After a very entertaining evening at the Helsinki Beer Festival, I woke up on Sunday morning surprisingly refreshed. I'm not sure if it was the fresh Helsinki air or the top quality of the beers I had been drinking but my head was clear and I barely felt any regret whatsoever unlike most other mornings after I've been on the lash. I was terrifically hungry though due to the lack of decent food options at the festival, but the hotels outstanding breakfast buffet soon filled that gap. Even though I wasn't flying back until Monday, I checked out of the hotel as I moving to one nearer the town centre, the functional and slightly quirky Hotel Finn. It was a great base for the centre of town, and was surprisingly reasonably priced as well. Another bonus was that it was directly across the way from Villi Wäinö, a bar I would be visiting later in the evening.
But first off I met with my friends to visit Bryggeri Helsinki for lunch. As well as brewing their own beer on site, they also have a very tempting BBQ menu. Sadly on arrival the place was firmly shut, presumably the staff were sleeping off their beer festival antics. We ended up eating in the fancy Kappeli which is nestled in a regal park that cuts through the middle of Helsinki. Although it looks very posh from the outside, it serves very reasonably priced meals. I stayed away from the beer here to give my body a rest before the night of drinking, but the Gravlax was very good indeed. After a obligatory visit to the Moomin shop up the road it was back to the hotel for a nap and watching YouTube videos on the free wi-fi. The beer blogging life is an exciting one.
As the evening rolled on I ventured out for a nights drinking on my lonesome. First stop was a return to Oluthuone Kaisla, which I've already written about in Part 1 so go back there and read it if you're interested. Next was St Urhos. The guide I was using described this as a "Fullers style" pub but it turned out to be an actual full blown Fullers. It was an odd feeling stumbling into a traditional Fullers in Helsinki but I'm glad I did as it was excellent. ESB was available on cask and other Fullers ales were available on keg. The real stars were the bottled beers, an eclectic and well chosen selection from all over the world. I ended up with an Australian ale, Single Hop IPA Galaxy from Bridge Road Brewers. Sadly I paid the price for choosing something so exotic as it cost a wallet melting ten euros for a 330ml bottle. Thankfully it was very tasty.
A food menu was available and the offerings were similar to the Fullers pubs back in England. I went for the Liver and Mash, but as a concession to Finland it was served with some lingonberries. Pretty much everything in Helsinki is served with a side of lingonberries. It's a good job I love 'em. The food was good, the atmosphere was jovial, the service friendly and efficient and overall this was an excellent pub. Well worth visiting.
I returned back to the hotel for a quick lie down and digestion afrer the hefty portion of mash, before popping across the way to Villi Wäinö. This large bar in muted black decor has more of a clubby feel, but on a Sunday evening it was quiet and rather pleasant. Villi is one of the few places in town that serves "Sahti" beer, a traditional Finnish style. I went for the Lammin Sahti by Lammin Sahti Oyand and it certainly was an experience. It felt like I was drinking the contents of a herb garden, and although it's a strong beer the boozy flavours weren't too overpowering. It was surprisingly good but the half I had was enough to be honest. There was a nice mix of punters in, with a couple of large groups of students, some older gentlemen enjoying a drink, and even a few single drinkers - it was nice to not be the only weirdo sitting on a table on their own. Nice place although apparently it gets very busy on a Friday and Saturday night, with drinkers spilling on to the street outside.
The next day was my flight back to the UK. We did manage to make it back to the Bryggeri Helsinki but sadly they don't serve the BBQ menu at lunch time, and instead serve a rather dreary looking buffet consisting of Finnish home cooking - fish soup, meatballs etc. To avoid a wasted trip I felt obliged to have a drink there, and the Citra was a very good example of this tasty style. That turned out to be my last beer of a trip that involved a huge amount of very tasty beer. It was like being a student again. I flew back to London tired but happy- and looking forward to returning to Helsiinki again once I've saved up another few hundred quid so I can afford the beer there!