Helsinki

2018 was very close to being the year that I broke my (now six-year!) trend of visiting a new country every year. By a touch of luck, a change of job (expect a post on that soon) allowed for the trend to continue by offering the exciting opportunity to visit my second Nordic country, Finland.

Three things spring to mind when I think of Finland:

  1. It's Cold
  2. Formula One Drivers
  3. There's a BrewDog in Helsinki

Unfortunately, Valtteri and Kimi were both out of town. I did, however, manage to confirm it is definitely cold and that there is indeed a BrewDog in Helsinki, keep reading for more on that.

Another unexpected treat was waiting at Heathrow, a three-month-old fresh-plane-smelling Airbus A320 NEO (G-TTND for those interested). One of only a handful of the new jets in BA's fleet. The plane is essentially the same as all the others but has some sexy Sharklets (see picture below).

British Airways, A320neo

British Airways, A320neo

There was ice and snow on the ground in Helsinki which was good evidence that it was definitely cold. The water in the below picture is the sea, apparently, and I'm told that it does freeze over so it can't have been that cold while we were there. Come to think of it this is a first, I have never seen the Baltic Sea before! Can't say I'd want to swim in it.

The below picture is the view from the Hotel, where the view was quite impressive. To the right of the picture, but out of shot is a large rocky hill where the Finnish Civil Defense Museum is located, I was quite surprised to learn that Finland has one of the most comprehensive shelter systems in the world, capable of accommodating the entire population.

View from the Hilton Strand Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

View from the Hilton Strand Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

It had to be done. BrewDog has become the newer and hipper, equivalent of Hard Rock Cafe. For what it's worth, I feel like BrewDog does actually differ from location to location, where Hard Rock is literally the same no matter where you are in the world (speaking from experience).

This particular BrewDog was unique in that it had absolutely no customers, which was kind of spooky. They did have a surprisingly large selection of local beers though, something I think BrewDog are doing a good job of in most international locations. I had a strange sour beer which was sour but still a little too sweet for me. One thing worth noting, although every beer-blog will do the same is that it is HIDEOUSLY expensive to drink in Helsinki, come to think about it, perhaps that explains the lack of patrons.

BrewDog Helsinki

BrewDog Helsinki

BrewDog Leeds - Review

My close friend @geekyjames and I are unequivocal fans of BrewDog, the Scottish craft beer company. Known for their iconic Punk IPA beer and brash attitude towards typical business convention they are without doubt one of the most notable new breweries globally. The company is expanding rapidly and has just opened a brand new brewery in Columbus, Ohio, looking to begin their expansion in the USA - as impressive as that expansion is, @geekyjames and I are quite content exploring their more local bars and our latest is Leeds in the North of England, a town neither of us had visited before.

I’ll start by saying Leeds took us both by surprise with its fantastic craft beer scene, there were several absolutely fantastic bars dotted across the city. Brew Dog Leeds continues this trend and occupies an absolutely perfect central location just south of Leeds Corn Exchange. The interior space of the bar follows the typical BrewDog style, exposed stained wood work, harsh metal fixtures and raw brickwork. The iconic tattoo-like painted walls are prevalent throughout with the downstairs area featuring a large dominating solid stone bar with high-table seating and a prominent black spiral stair case. Upstairs there is a beer-chiller room, the beer kegs are brought up using an electric winch, which I thought was most novel! Upstairs offers a more intimate and relaxed space, with booth style seating offering retro computer games. The room has a high ceiling with exposed rafters making the space feel very large despite its small size.

BrewDog2.JPG

We visited at peak time on a Tuesday evening and the bar was busy but by no means full (others in the area were) which provided good ambience without being oppressive, we were easily able to hold a conversation and have good fun with the Super Nintendo!

Undoubtedly one of our favorite of BrewDog’s bars this was a complete gem and we will certainly be back to visit again. Leeds also has a unique BrewDog spot called ‘ShuffleDog’ which we didn't have time to visit but look forward to dropping by in the near future.