Candidate #17- Junkyard, Nottingham, England

The Midlands has a long, proud ale brewing history; Castle Rock, Marstons, Nottingham Brewery.

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But forget all that: the junkyard celebrates all the other types of beer; saisons, stouts, west coast IPAs, bizarre fruity potions and all sorts of hybrids. It’s bloody brilliant. A corner of the bar is reserved for fridges for take-out or drink-in, resplendent with a great selection of cans (usually a massively underrepresented receptacle, for some reason).

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The junkyard is tucked away down an alley in an actual yard, giving the venue outdoor seating front and back and a bit of peace in the city centre. There is a large row of bar seats which is rare and welcomed in England, and is a nod towards the underlying American influence. The food is classed-up bar food, with plenty of big flavours and stocky quantities to soak up the booze, with a pan-European influence: French toast, scratchings, charcuterie, Padrón peppers; and some American staples: fried pickles and popcorn.

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Venue: 6/10

Hidden away from the noise, two gardens, a long bar seating area and tasteful decor. Hopefully more will be added over the years to give an aged rather than worn feel.

Beer: 8/10

Very respectable selection of canned beers (an underrated option, in my opinion), and 15 taps mark it out as a leading stockist in the Midlands.

Worthy? Maybe

 

56. Au General Lafayette, Paris, France

 

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A café so bold, it has it’s own branded beer glasses…in PARIS. On the surface, this the quintessential Parisian café experience; one major difference singles Au General Lafayette out: the focus on quality beer.

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Ten tap beers and a robust selection of Belgian classics (Orval, Chimay, Westmalle) provide the bulk of its’ arsenal, with some focus on French beers too, and one can order a beer to accompany your meal without embarrassment or scorn from the waiters.

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Service is brisk but still friendly, a rarity in lackadaisicall Parisian café dining. The interior has a tasteful assortment of mechanical miscellany amidst what could be original 1930s decor.

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Any Parisian worth his wine will dine al fresco, and Au General does not disappoint, offering a lengthy outdoor terrace hugging the perimeter. It’s next to a busy road, but so is all of Paris; one gets used to the engine roar and the moped whines as white noise and eventually as ambience.

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Venue: 6/10

Quintessential Parisian café, in and out.

Beer: 3/10

Nothing astounding, indeed an average-to-small range for the Netherlands or Belgium, but good for this wine-obsessed (read: misguided) nation.

Worthy? No

If the food was better, maybe.

90. Proeflokaal ‘t Arendsnest, Amsterdam, Holland

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There are over 170 breweries in the Netherlands, and nowhere are Dutch brews better represented than at Proeflokaal ‘t Arendsnest, which serves exclusively Dutch beers.

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At any one time there are ~100 bottle varieties and 30 taps, regularly changing and other, inferior, drinks like whiskey. Food is limited to yummy snacks such as cheese, meats and nuts.

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The staff are very knowledgable, if a little tired of being asked “What do you recommend, bro?”, and run tasting sessions and special events.

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This, like In De Wildeman,  is definitely on the tourist map, yet retains an affable, friendly vibe, where patrons freely talk to each other. There are a lot of small bars in Amsterdam, forcing strangers to sit together, but this is the only one that consistently houses social interaction. I’m not really sure how, but I tip my hat.

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Venue: 8/10

Classy-brassy. The space is very small and overcrowding is rife, but they have utilised the space as well as possible.

Beer: 8/10

The Netherlands has a splendid array of beers, and ‘t Arendsnest is often the first to peddle new, quality offerings. 30 taps is a lot to maintain, but they are equal to the challenge.

Worthy? Yes

There is no where better to sample the very best that Dutch brewers produce.