I am one of those geeks that tries to work beer into every trip. The moment we decide where we will be going on vacation I go straight to the Beer Mapping Project to try to see what notable breweries and bars are in the vicinity. With a little research and planning I get to try new and amazing beers I would otherwise have missed.
Occasionally my efforts do meet resistance from the family who want to trek to another brewery about as much as they a full body scan at the airport. And once I share my plans my wife might say something like, “Oh yes. Because we wouldn’t this trip to be ruined like the time we went to Norway.” (I sincerely wish someone would invent a good font for sarcasm.) For point of reference the trip to Norway was also the year I discovered Beer Mapping and found out only too late that we were not going to be anywhere near either Haand or Nogone. Apparently I made mention of this fact once too often.
But by and large it works out well. However, there are those times when all my best efforts to dig and research a way to work beer into a trip come to naught. My trip to Albania in July proved to be one of those exceptions. There are no entries at all for the country on Beer Mapping. According to Rate Beer the best beer from Albania clocks in at a very modest 2.81out of 5.
This is of course not to suggest that I had no beer whilst there. Indeed my host (who also happened to be my brother) went out of his way to find me every available brand and style of local beer he could find.
At our first meal I enjoyed several Korca dark pils, which still boats the distinction of winning the “Gran Prix” in Thessalonica in 1938!
Then, at the beach we indulged in Stela which should definitely not to be confused with Stella Artois. However, in the copyright lose society that is Albania, this may not be an accidental similarity.
For proof see Exhibit A- “Albania Fried Chicken” below:
Anyway, the other distinguishing characteristic of Stela is its caps which are a combo of old can pull tabs melded with a traditional bottle caps. They are not only easy to open, they also make cool rings.
But, and most importantly, despite the dearth of great beer, it was a truly amazing time.
The food was always fresh and, with the exception of the large glass of warm and ever so slightly spoiled milk for breakfast and the mystery gelatin cubes made from lamb bones (left) that were served for dessert, it was delicious.
The people were warm and welcoming and often treated us like rock stars. The scenery and climate were beautiful. What’s not to like?
So it seems my lovely wife was again proved right. It is possible after all to have a great vacation without the aid of the Beer Mapping Project.