Saturday, 12 November 2016

Beers of Europe

In a previous post I referred to Beers of Europe (BOE); a massive warehouse on the outskirts of Kings Lynn which carries what is almost certainly the largest selection of bottled beers in the UK. Although styled as specialising in European beers, BOE also carries an impressive range of North American beers, alongside a substantial number from these islands.

Our trip up to Norfolk last weekend provided the perfect excuse to visit this renowned beer specialist, and with Christmas fast approaching (there, I’ve mentioned the word!), this was the perfect chance to stock up on a few goodies  in advance of the festive season.

The birthday gift of a sat-nav, earlier in the year, meant we were able to navigate from my sister’s house in Dereham to BOE, without any difficulty. The company are situated in a place called Setchey, which is just to the south of Kings Lynn on the main A10 road.

Turning off along the aptly named Garage Lane didn’t fill me with confidence at first, but just a short distance along we noticed the BOE warehouse and turned off into the car park. There were several other cars there, which was a good sign, so after collecting a trolley in which to place our intended purchases, we headed inside.

On this particular visit, I was primarily after German beers, although my list did include a few proper, home-grown Christmas Ales (that word again!). The friendly gentleman on the front desk directed us to the aisles where the former could be found, and it was here that my pre-planned list came into its own. With hundreds of different beers stocked, I strongly advise making a list beforehand. This can be done on the BOE website, where you can search for beers on a country-by-country basis. 

Stepping inside the warehouse which, for obvious reasons is not heated is like stepping into an Aladdin’s Cave. For a beer-lover, it is the equivalent of being a kid in a sweet-shop. Walking up and down the aisles I was able to find virtually all the beers on my list, and even picked up a few more which weren’t. Son Matt, who is a bit of a lager-lout, decided that he too would also like to make a few purchases, so he quite commendably loaded a selection of Czech and German Pilsners and Helles onto the trolley. I was pleased to see him selecting something a lot better than the usual international industrial brands he usually goes for, so our visit there was not wasted on him either.

Amongst my purchases were several bottles of my favourite smoke beer from BambergAecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, including a bottle of the brewery’s Fastenbier, brewed specially for Lent. I also picked up a bottle of Gose; the speciality beer from Goslar, in eastern Germany, which a decade or so ago, had almost died out. The two Christmas beers which caught my fancy were Adnams Tally Ho (not brewed specifically for Christmas, but a fine, strong dark barely wine nevertheless), and Hook Norton Twelve Days. The latter is definitely a Christmas beer, and is one of my
favourites. No references to Santa, reindeers or elves, nor any appalling puns or double entendres. Instead a fine strong darkish winter beer, with a stylish label which reflects the countryside at this time of year.

Whilst perusing the aisles, we couldn’t help noticing, or should I say hearing, two North American couples, stocking up on some of their favourite craft beers from back home. Although not 100% certain, I would imagine they were probably serving US personnel from one of the large American airbases close by. We also noticed a steady stream of “home-grown” customers, proving that BOE is also well known amongst more local beer lovers.

If you are in that part of Norfolk, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to BOE. Alternatively, the company can supply via mail-order. Our visit only scratched the surface, and next time it will probably be a different category of beers I will be after; either that or a different country of origin.


Unknown said...

Hi Paul
Nice website. You sound like a man after my own heart.
Quick question: if you have the John Camp's guide to Bucks & Oxon pubs to hand would you mind checking to see if he visited a pub called the Five Elms in Weedon (3 miles north of Aylesbury) please?
Thanks a lot

Paul Bailey said...

Hi Chris, apologies for the extremely late reply, but there is no mention of the Five Elms at Weedon, in John Camp's guide to Bucks & Oxon pubs.