Years ago my mum and me spent a night in Helsinki on our way to see Santa Claus on the arctic cicle. We road snow mobiles and reindeer sleighs. Helsinki was such a cool place, with vodka and blinis and Finnish design everywhere. So when I found out we’d have to spend the night in Helsinki on our way to Shanghai I was pretty excited. However, the city seemed quite deserted when we landed here 23.00 o’clock last night. Empty trams did their rounds. Streets were devoid of anything, not even a plastic bag blowing in the breeze. Bars were closed. Chairs were stacked high at Pizza Hut. It felt like we’d landed in The Day of the Triffids and nobody had thought to mention it to us. ‘Oh, let’s not tell the tourists about the whole thing with the evil flesh eating plants, it might make us look bad.’ We asked whether the bar in the hotel was still open. It wasn’t. Really? At 23.00 on a Friday night? Was there anywhere to go? The receptionists looked uneasy: why did we want to go out? why not take the nice hissi hiss (apparently the Finnish word for lift) back up to our room, ponder the psychadelic carpet for a while from our keinutuoli, rocking chair. Yes, for some reason we have a rocking chair in our hotel room. But now we kinda wanted a drink. Beer if at all possible, perhaps something local…?
The receptionist seemed to freeze. Perhaps the local brewers had all been eaten by the Triffids and it was something people in polite society didn’t mention? But she did whip out a map. Beyond the dragons and the sea monsters there might be one bar. William K. It might not be open, they might not have beer. We would probably never find it. But she’d done her receptionist best. So we ventured out. Past closed sushi places and draughty bakeries. Found the bar. It looked like an old folks home, with faded carpets, wood paneling and stained glass windows. And the most amazing selection of craft ales! Põhjala, Lervig and Jopen on draft! After a very nice Põhjala Crema IPA (brilliant, reminded me of my own Verdiales IPA), a Hop zij met ons by Jopen (too grassy for me) and a Cantillon Gueuze I say: never mind the Triffids!