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Back to Beer!
Mar 31st, 2010 by Jeff

I lost my way with the beer blog after the Philippines. I think it had to do with my getting Dengue fever, which hit me full force in Australia. I just didn’t want to drink anything alcoholic until I recovered. I think it took me about two weeks to get back to 100%. I then allowed myself to have a few cold ones; I guess I just lost my desire to write about it. But in the spirit of “a little hair of the dog that bit you” (and the fact that some of the comments and emails out there requested and update), I thought I’d get you all caught up on my sampling.

Once I was finally recovered enough to enjoy a nice cold beer, I was already two weeks into our time in Australia. The first thing I discovered about beer down under was that it was expensive there. If I recall correctly, a six-pack of premium beer there set me back about $16 (the beer money savings was probably the only good thing about me getting Dengue). While in Australia I sampled a number of beers, but was not really impressed with anything I tried there. I’m sure there has got to be something good there in the microbrew category, but I just didn’t stumble into it. I loved everything else about going “Down Under”, so I guess I’ll just plan on a second trip there to find out what I missed.

While the beer in New Zealand wasn’t any cheaper than in Australia, I did find a better microbrew selection (maybe I was just fully recovered and ready spend a little more time looking). My two favorite breweries there were Mac’s and Monteith’s. On the second night we were in Auckland, we ventured out with our new friend and couchsurfing host, Lorenzo, to a party, thrown by the nicest bunch of South Africans you’d ever meet. We were told to not worry about food but we might want to bring some beverages. We drove off to the party planning to stop to get some beer. After striking out at two different bottle shops (liquor store to you and I) we finally found one open. The store had a very large selection and I walked out with two different selections from the Monteith’s brewery. The first was their summer ale (don’t forget I’m down-under and in their summer in January). The second was their red ale. The summer beer was a golden lager with a little spice and a bit of honey. The red was a take on the traditional Irish ale where they added burnt malts to give it the red color and some nice chocolate notes which balanced out the hops, so the beer was not to bitter. Both beers went down quite nice with the sausages they were serving from the grill. Kate and Olivia (my sister-in-law) definitely liked the summer ale over the red, and we continued to seek it out and drink it throughout our time in NZ.

As I noted earlier, I also really enjoyed the Mac’s brews. They offer a Black Stout, a Red Ale and a Golden Lager, all of which I could drink on a regular basis. But I especially liked their Great White wheat beer. As I had noted in earlier blogs, I really like unfiltered wheat bears in the tradition of Hoegarden, and this particular beer did not disappoint. It was crisp and refreshing with a hint of orange and some floral notes coming from the coriander they add during the brewing. However, their ads say you might detect aroma of bananas and bubblegum, but I think that is just wrong for beer (and I wouldn’t say I detected that, even if I did). The only disappointment came from the packaging, as I am collecting bottle caps for my nephew Jack, unfortunately this brewery uses a plain pull top bottle cap which is effectively destroyed when you open the bottle.

Lastly, I also really enjoyed Speight’s beer while we were in the city of Queensland. I sampled both their dark beer and a golden lager. The golden lager was just simply well done. It had a nice refreshing flavor that went down smoothly after a day of jumping out of planes (or shopping in Kate’s case). Their Old Dark was also good. I just wish I had more time to explore these breweries beers in a little more depth. I’ll put that on my to-do list for my next visit to NZ.

In front of the brew house in Queensland

In front of the brew house in Queensland

Unfortunately, my beer samplings diminished significantly after leaving New Zealand. It seems the whole microbrew craze has not caught up with Thailand, India, The United Arab Emirates (that one I can understand), or Egypt. While I did drink beer in all of those countries, it was typically your garden variety Heineken, Tiger, and Carlsberg licensed for mass production outside of their original countries. The one exception to that is probably Thailand with Chang beer and Singha. While Chang beer is probably more iconic of the two brands I prefer the Singha with my Thai food. To me it was just a little better at putting out the fire left in my mouth by the green or red curry I had just eaten.

Now that were in Europe, I’m looking forward to sampling some of the local fair. I saw a number of breweries last night on our bus trip to downtown Madrid. I may just let the girls shop as I sit on the sidewalk and quaff a few.

Cheers,

Jeff

Beer Update – Yeah Viet Nam!
Nov 17th, 2009 by Jeff

Yeah, beer is better in Viet Nam! Viet Nam has embraced the micro brewery model and it is everywhere. I unfortunately didn’t get to try it here until we made it to Cat Ba Island. There I was able to sample the local Bia Hia Phong (Hia Phong being the closest big city to Cat Ba Island). There was a hotel next to the one we stayed at that had two large golden kegs on a kart by the street. See photo below. A cold glass of beer was a whopping 5,000 VND (or about $0.28 US). The beer was a light lager that had a definite floral finish, quite refreshing on a hot Vietnamese day (the power was out and is was a little warm).

A tasty treat after a hard day at the beach!

A tasty treat after a hard day at the beach!

Since then we have made our way to Nha Trang (where I am at this very moment). Here there is a microbrewery called Louisiane Brewhouse – right on the beach, no less. I have already enjoyed a cold Louisiane Witbier and their Dark Lager, both quite tasty. The Witbier is in the classic Belgian style with coriander, orange and a special yeast culture. It complemented my fish curry quite well. The Dark Lager was also quite good and I had it as my afternoon dessert. It was still a lager so not too heavy, but it had definite chocolate notes which added to the roasted hops flavor. I think I may spend a little more time here. The beer is a little more pricey here, $1.75 a glass, but the ambiance is well worth it (wifi equipped).

Cheers,

Jeff

Beer continued…
Oct 7th, 2009 by Jeff

So far China has greatly underwhelmed me on the beer front.  Not that the beer has been bad, just nothing to write home (or on a blog) about.  Often it has been served somewhat warm and I have yet to find anything remarkable.  Most of the Chinese brews are of the “Budwiser” variety.  One beer did bring me back to the Bahamas, the Tsingtao Crystal - it tasted remarkably like a Kalik (Kate even agreed with me on that).  Derek – you’d feel right at home (accept you’d probably be the only caucasion guy with a Bahamian accent in the country).

But I haven’t given up on China yet.  I’m going to keep trying new Chinese beer at every opportunity – probably with some delicious and greatly underpriced food (our typical entrees are running a whopping $4- 5 US for a healthy portion).

Cheers,

Jeff

A manly post!!!
Sep 10th, 2009 by Jeff

After checking on the “junk” comments for the blog, I noticed an inadvertent lost comment from my friend Patrick. He had just read my first post and was thankful for the injection of some testosterone to the wells360 blogosphere. In the interest of keeping that flowing, I will now discuss a great BEER discovery! I also have my favorite nephew to thank for part of this discussion (that’s you Jack!). He wanted bottle caps from around the world and I would not deny him that simple request. I have been sampling beer in Canada and Japan and collecting the caps to send back to him. And while all beer is good, during my stay here at the K house hostel near Mt. Fuji, I have found a microbrew that is now climbed to the top of my list – Gotenba Kohgen Beer. I have had a delicious Weizen and now (as I write this) a quite tasty Dunkel! Now I just have to find it when I get home. All my Arizona friends, consider that your assignment! Try to find a little Japan in AZ for me so I can relive the trip with you when I get back over a cold one!

Cheers!!!

Jeff

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