Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 2

Beer A

I am very excited by the growth of Craft Beers. The very name suggests the image of a ruddy faced and smocked farmer sucking on an ear of wheat but nothing could be further from the truth. These start ups that have emerged from the micro-brewing scene are many well capitalised business making amazing products.

The ethos of the craft brewer is not at all at odd with those beautifully crafted European beers that have seen international success.

In our second appreciation – see our first guide here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 of some of Europe finest and most iconic beer I have highlighted those beautiful beers that stand strong to the noble tradition of brewing.

Brewdog 1

BrewDog: I was in a bar in Camden North London about two years ago with an old friend – and a very successful entrepreneur – from the music business. He suggested a pint of Dead Pony Pale Ale. Indeed a delicious pint, but it was the usual branding and obviously compelling punk attitude that required a deeper sampling of this recent UK beer brand.

Founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in Scotland in 2007. In 2011 they raised £2m by via crowdfunding and by October 2015 production had risen to 2.2m bottles and 400,000 cans. Their first bar was opened in 2010 in Aberdeen and their fourth being the bar in Camden – many others world-wide have followed. By April 2017 22% of the business was sold for £213m to The Shansby Group (TSG), a US based private equity firm housed in the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco (CA.).

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By mid 2017 the canned Punk IPA became one of the regular house pours on EasyJets European services – an accolade for sure.

Hope you will support this fabulous new movement in UK brewing? If you’d like to try a mixed case from BrewDog hit this Amazon link:
BrewDog: Headliner Mixed Case, 12 x 330 ml


Pelforth Brune: French beers are typically “blonde” and have many refreshing qualities. However, on colder autumn/winter days with a warming bowl of Cassoulet – a delicious traditional white haricot beans and pork stew – a delicious accompaniment is a glass of deep brown Pelforth. Its has a rich caramel aroma and profound, almost sweet, flavours for a brown beer.

Founded in Lille (Northern France) in 1921 the three local brewers, Louis Boucquey, Armand Deflandre and Raoul Bonduel, joined forces. By 1937 Jean Deflandre, Armand’s son, used high fermentation, two malts of barley and English yeast to create a beer that he called “Pelforth 43”. Why? Based on Pelican – as seen on the bottle – the French word for “strong” – “fort”. “43” refers to 43kg of barley required to produce a hectolitre of the beer – it also happens to be the name of the local infantry regiment. 

PF 1

Following various mergers and acquisitions Pelforth became part of Heineken in 1988.

I highly recommend that you try a Pelforth Brown, particularly if you like a typical mild beer – there is much in common. If that appeals please click the following AMAZON link:
Pelforth brown 6.5 ° 65 cl – 6 x 65 cl

Franks Weiss

Franziskaner Weissbier: Is a wheat/white beer – is a deep, complex and flavoursome beer – produced by the Bavarian brewing giant Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu GmbH.

The brewers origins can be traced to the late 14th century and the name derives from the German for “Franciscan” as their was a monastery diagonally opposite the original brewery. The Friar was first used as a logo in 1909. In 1922 the breweries of Spaten and Franzikaner merged.

In 1964, the Spaten-Franziskaner brewery brewed its first wheat beer. By 1984 Franziskaner Weissbier became available by export. By 2003 the brewery was selling 1m million hectolitres annually. It is claimed that Franziskaner Weissbier is now the world’s favourite wheat beer.


In 2004 following a merger with Lowenbrau the business was acquired by brewing giant Interbrew – now Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

So you missed Munich’s world famous “OktoberFest” in September this year. Why not try a few bottles of Franziskaner Weissbier at home by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Franziskaner Weissbier Beer, Case of 12


Fullers London Pride: Fuller’s London Pride has alway been proud that it is “Made in London”. It is in fact the UK’s best selling cask-conditioned ale and is sold worldwide in bottles. Its a deep and very flavourful ale that was first brewed at Fuller’s Chiswick (West London) Thames-side based Griffin Brewery in 1959.

The name for this fine beer stems from the early 1940’s when a flower, colloquially called “London Pride” (Saxifraga x urbium) – a perennial flowering plant – was noted as blooming on bomb sites around London left by the Blitz. The symbolism of the flower, its reliance and the resolve of Londoners to resist the misery of the War years was celebrated by Fullers.

In 1979 and 1995 at the Campaign For Real Ale Awards London Prised won Champion Beer of Britain in the Best Bitter Class. Since 2007 it has been the official beer of the London Marathon.

Fullers take Pride 2

One of the finest ways to enjoy a pint of Pride is at the Fuller’s owned pub in Hammersmith, “The Dove”, with its wide terraces overlooking the River Thames. It’s said to be where Charles II dined with his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and has been owned by local brewer, Fuller, Smith & Turner, since 1796.

Like many other Londoners why no “Take Pride” by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Fullers London Pride Premium Ale – 12 x 500ml

Youngs Bitter

Youngs Bitter: Progress is often a bitter pill best enjoyed with a pint of Youngs’ fine bitter. A real pint of bitter that results from many years of brewing tradition.

Since the 1550 the Ram pub has been recorded on the site of the former Youngs’ brewery in Wandsworth (South West London). The Ram was purchased in 1831 by co-founders Charles Allen Young and Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge. In 2006 the last chairman of Young & Co, John Young – a direct descendent of Charles – agreed to sell the site for re-development ending over five hundred years of brewing tradition. Sadly, Mr Young died shortly after the sale and a final brew from the Ram’s Brewery was served at his funeral.

For many years I recall seeing the Young & Co brightly coloured shire-horse drawn drays delivering beer to the local area around South West London.

Youngs Dray

Since 2006 the brewing of Youngs’ beers, to service its licensed trade – including as of August 2017, 177 managed pubs and 74 tenanted houses in the area – and its off license business was transferred to a new business – a joint venture between Charles Wells Brewery that operates from the Eagle Brewery in Bedford. Wells have subsequently acquired full control of this joint venture.

Young & Co is still based in Wandsworth. In 2007 the company moved to a new head office around the corner from the former brewery site.

As part of the 2013 redevelopment plans for the site, there is a commitment for the Ram’s historic buildings to be retained and restored to include a micro-brewery and preservation of the bank of the River Wandle that passes through the site.

I have several favourite Youngs Pubs in London. “The Guinea” in Bruton Place is perhaps the home of the finest steak in London. “The Fox and Anchor” in Charterhouse Street where you once could enjoy an early morning pint with the porters of Smithfield market and the recently refurbished “The County Arms” in Trinity Road, Wandsworth is a delightful evening local.

If you cannot get to one of the above fine pubs – or many of Young’ others – why not try the dray deliveries from AMAZON by clicking the following link: Young’s Bitter – 12 X 500ml

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So sorry to our international readers as the AMAZON links are UK only.

Images courtesy of the Brewers


Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1


I like beer. I like the beer itself, I like its iconic packaging, marketing and labelling. I like the stories behind the brands. Whilst the economics of acquisition may chisel at the intimate nature of the relationship between the beer drinker and his/her preferred brew, arguably it has provided a life line to survival of many smaller brands.

Let Aestheticons ‘whet its whistle’ and take you on a journey across some of my favourite  European locations to sample some of the delights of the brewer’s craft.

Beer Moretti

Birra Moretti was first brewed in 1859 by Luigi Moretti in the Northern Italian city of Udine which was then still part of the Austrian Empire. Famous for its “doppio malto” brewing process that makes a golden beer, with an intense and delicious flavour.

The brand was owned by the Moretti family until 1989 when it was sold to a third party that was subsequently swallowed up by the giant Heineken group in 1996.

There is some dispute over the famous image of the moustachioed drinker on the label. It is said to have been taken in 1942 , with the sitter’s permission, by Lao Menazzi Moretti in a trattoria and given to illustrator Franca Segala who drew the finally used image. An alternative view, was that it was taken by a German photographer in 1939 near Innsbruck and was used without authority until in 1956 a legal dispute concerning its use was settled by Moretti. The romantic in me prefers the earlier tale!

Why not try this exceptional Italian beer by clicking the following AMAZON link

Birra Moretti – Premium Italian Lager Beer – 24 x 330 ml – 4.6 % ABV

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Estrella Damm Inedit – Ok so there you are in Roses (Catalonia) overlooking Cala Montjoi on Spain’s Costa Brava. It’s 2008 and you run one of the world’s most feted restaurants but you need the definitive beer to compliment your fine food. This is the challenge that faced Ferran Adria, the founder of el Bulli, and the brewers of Damm.

Damm was founded in Barcelona in 1876 by a young emigre brewmaster from Alsace, Augustus K Damm. Damm also make the delicious Estrella brand, that debuted in 1876.

The combination of barley malt, wheat hops, coriander, liquorice and orange peel gives Ferran’s beer a fabulous and, yes, unique yet delicious flavour.

Don’t be swayed by the advice that this beer is best served, half full, in a white wine glass in order to “fully appreciate its intensity and aromatic complexity”. This is a beer after all, allow it some dignity. If it were a dog it would be a clipped poodle but this is a wonderful beer. The cleaver branding and antecedents should not distract you from fully enjoying it.

Want to give it a try? Click the following AMAZON link

Estrella Inedit Damm Beer, 6 x 330 ml


Boddingtons – I spent some formative days  – and nights – in the Manchester and it saw my first pub visits. It was a magical, if edgy place, for a “Soft Southerner”.

A character to Northern beer that doesn’t seem to translate in the South is the “Creamed Pint”. In the late 1970’s if you went to any pub North of Stoke on Trent you’d be able to order such a marvel often from a high arch hand pulled tap, delicious.

My personal favourite of these great brews is Boddingtons Bitter or known as “Boddies” to its friends. Founded by Henry Boddington in 1853, a former employee of the predecessor brewer at the iconic Strangeways Brewery – founded in 1778 – North of Manchester’s city centre.  Boddingtons remained independent until 1989, when direct descendent of Henry, Ewart Boddington, sold Strangeways Brewery and the Boddingtons brand (but not the tied estate which then exceeded 500 pubs) to Whitbread for £50.7 million. Sadly, the Strangeways Brewery was closed in 2005 when production moved to South Wales.

The Boddies logo that features the worker bee has been a long standing symbol of Manchester, its vibrant and busy culture.

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In Manchester earlier in this year, a school friend, travelling and drinking companion and I failed miserably to find a pint of Boddies. Looks like I will have to survive on the rather decent canned versions.

Boddys 2

If you’d like to sample this fine Northern pint you can by clicking the following AMAZON link.

Boddingtons Draught Bitter (24 x 440ml)


Guinness – is a dark dry-stout but it is so much more. A combination of an Irish cultural icon, a completely nutritious liquid food – at around 198 calories a pint and high in anti-oxidents – and the World’s headline sponsor of St Patrick’s Day.

St James’ Gate Brewery in the heart of Dublin, a then disused brewery, became the home of Guinness in 1759 when Arthur Guinness, who with amazing foresight signed a 9000 year lease with the family of Mark Rainsford, a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, for a rent of £45 per year, started brewing with some of the barley being roasted giving the dark ruby colour and taste. He was funded by the bequest of £100 from his Godfather, Dr. Arthur Price, an Irish Archbishop.

The brand developed and its aficionados grew.

In 1986 Guinness acquired Distillers – amid a share price scandal and in 1997 Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan and was re-christened Diageo Plc. By 2011 Guinness was selling 850 million litres worldwide. By the end of 2017 it is expected that Guinness will be consumable by all including vegans, as the isinglass (derived from from fish) fining element that is used to improve clarity will have been phased out.

The preeminence of Guinness’ advertising has been a long-standing feature of its commercial activity. Certain campaigns have included the art of Sir John Gilroy. In the 1930’s he worked with Guinness’ then advertising agency, S.H. Benson (who in 1948 invested $48,000 in David Ogilvy’s fledgling agency that later acquired Bensons), for whom he created  “Guinness for Strength”


and zoo creatures enjoying Guinness including the Toucan’s iconic pronouncement that “Guinness Is Good For You”.

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In 1999 Guinness’ still incumbent advertising agency, Abbott Mead Vickers, used Left Field’s “Phat Planet” in the Jonathan Glazer directed, “Surfer/White Horses”. In 2002 the commercial was  voted “Best Ad of All Time” (in a Channel 4/The Times Poll). See the advert here: Surfers/White Horses

Why not sample a pint of “Uncle Arthur” for yourself with these original Guinness Bottles – click this AMAZON link

Guinness Original Beer Bottles, 12 x 500 ml


Budweiser Budvar – is the anglicised spelling of the name of the state owned Czech brewery, based in the city of Budweis in Bohemia. It has brewed its Pilsner beer according to a strict local brewing regulation since 1516.

What is Pilsner? A brewing process that originated in the Czech city of Pilsen where brewing began in 1295. Using a technique that aged beer with bottom fermenting yeasts the clarity and shelf life were improved. The Pilsen brewery used the pilsner techniques, paler and brighter malts brewing the first Pilsen in 1842. By the late 19th century the product was being enjoyed around Europe and in 1898 Pilsner Urquell created their famous and original trade mark  – more on this brand to follow.

This wonderful pale larger results from the combination of local water, barley from Moravia (East of the Czech Republic) and the indigenous Saaz hops – the hops also used to flavour the Stella Artois brand.

Given the similarity of their brands there has been an ongoing dispute with Anheuser-Busch the owner of the US beer brand “Budweiser” since the start of the 20th century.

Have you tried Budweiser Budvar? If not, you should by clicking the following AMAZON link:

Budweiser Budvar Czech Pilsner (20 x 500ml Bottles)

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So sorry to our international readers as the AMAZON links are UK only.

Images courtesy of the Brewers

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia


I am giving serious thought to the expression “Favourite Car” in response to an enquirers question to name mine. Now, I thought I had a long-term and completely harmonious fictional relationship with a 1965 Porsche 911 Targa. See here our previous past Porsche 911 Targa 

No question my pulse quicken and my throat dries a little at the thought of those classic lines, that ticking engine and those long lazy sunny days mastering the hairpins down to La Corniche. Then, as if to upset the harmony of a steady relationship, a perfectly formed little nose nudges you and with winking classic headlights clears its throat and ask you if, perhaps with a little hesitation and possibly some disappointment, whether you have forgotten them.

They remind you of the mid-1970’s classic car magazine collection “On Four Wheels” – which to the best of my recollection ran for about three years and with each edition – after the usual “magazine-crack” two for one introductory offer – became increasingly more expensive. They remind you of this endless summer days with your childhood pal, Mike, when you’d visit car showrooms, argue about the merits of Italian cars versus German or French ones and write to “concessionaires” asking for brochures often to be inundated with coffee table sized promo materials featuring sleek new sleek Lamborghinis and Maseratis. Mike still has his collection of brochures stored in a garage – Ebay anyone?

One such car is Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia – especially the Cabriolet version. My Godmother has a hard topped version in grey and she was quite cool so that was how this pretty car became locked in my evolving psyche from the mid-sixties.


The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – based on the classic and mechanics of a first model Beetle – see our celebration of this amazing car here Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined –  was debuted as a design concept at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. Following launch, it was available in 2+2 coupe versions (from 1955 to 1974) and as a cabriolet (from 1957 to 1974).

The Karmann Ghia was a collaboration that featured the styling genius of Luigi Segre, of the legendary Turin based coach-builder, Carrozzeria Ghia (now owned by Ford), and the hand-shapes panelling  of German coach-builder Karmann – who VW had commissioned to develop the car. A massive success with over 445,000 cars built, the Karmann Ghia was extensively exported, particularly to the US market.

The VW Karmann Ghia Cabriolet was first introduced August 1957.


The Cabriolet has, along with many cars in the VW range, been featured in a series of classic Doyle Dane and Bernbach (DDB) print media adverts in the 1950s and 60’s; so much so that DDB’s work with Volkswagen, who they have represented since 1959 (opening an office in Germany in 1961) was voted the No. 1 campaign of all time by Advertising Age’s 1999 “The Century of Advertising”.

A classic DD&B poster from the early 1960’s:


In the early 1970’s, in response to increasing vehicle safety requirements, particularly in the US, the smooth chrome wrap-around bumpers were replaced with energy absorbing bumpers. By the mid 1970’s the model was phased out to be replaced, initially, by the Porsche 914 – never a particular favourite.

STOP PRESS: In the Gooding and Company Scottsdale Auction in January 2018 a 1963 hard topped version of the Karmann Ghia achieve a respectable $37,400 which whilst is not cheap does suggest that this fine German brand is an everyman collectible – see this lovely example and read here the Gooding and Company report Gooding and Company Karmann Ghia

Seen and loved the car – now get the T shirt – please click the AMAZON link under the image 



Read more about the history – here.


Volkswagen Karmann Ghias and Cabriolets: 1949-1980

Essential mantelpiece material – a die cast model to keep those juices flowing!


Minichamps 155054031 1:18 Scale “1970 VW Karmann Ghia Convertible Black” Replica Model Toy


Karmann Ghia Type 14 Logo T-Shirt Oldtimer Car Cars Collector Driver Ralley Osnabrück Coupé Cabriolet 17156 – Grey – XX-Large

If you are lucky enough to find a Karmann Gaia in reasonable condition – and at a reasonable price – grab it! If successful you’ll need the iconic Haynes Manual to tell you just what to do to keep your beautiful car in fab condition.


VW Beetle and Karmann Ghia (1954-79) Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Images by West Coast Classics, Doyle Dane and Bernbach, Ara Howrani/Howrani Studios and Gooding and Company with grateful thanks