After five years in Beijing and approximately three and a half years as BotF’s North Asia correspondent this will be my final blog in such a capacity.
The responsibility the BotF Executive has bestowed upon me is one I have not taken lightly and it has been a fabulous posting. The Chinese do enjoy their beers and Tsingtao Draft will remain my favourite particularly when accompanied with Gong Bao Ji Ding.
Living in Beijing brings with it a wonderfully International influence with regards to beers. I would like to formally convey my thanks of behalf of BotF to Jenny Wang’s local supermarkets for their efforts to provide a plethora of new beers to sample.
The list of humorous memories are too voluminous to mention. Bladdamasta’s electric bike incident, the Shanghai French Quarter Sojourn, quiz night at the Pomegranate, the Green Cap Shennanigins and the post from the Great Wall which shut down Internet access to BotF in China. I sign off from my favourite haunt; the Swan with Two Necks with a Guiness. This post is unfortunately short as TfT still has some packing to do and the Flying Kangaroo departs tomorrow morning.
It is indeed time for Tony to return to Toowoomba! Zai Jian!!
After almost five years living in China one develops a respect for the ingenuity of the Chinese people. If there a dollar to be made and an opportunity to be exploited they will do their best.
None of the bar staff spoke English and my Chinese is only just sufficient to glean basic information. They were new and indeed were serving Australian beer despite the fact it was being brewed on premises. There were two brews (despite three taps) a Lager and a Stout.
There is no mention of Brigalow Australia Beer on the net and a second visit will be necessary for a more detailed investigative process.
BotF sampled both the Lager and the Stout. To be honest initial tasting of the Lager was an immature beer with absolutely no gas but improved upon further sampling.
The Stout was very gutsy and a meal in itself.
BotF is intrigued by the name “Brigalow” which is a tree mainly found in the outer Darling Downs of Queensland. For those with an agricultural slant prevalence of Brigalow trees is normally an indication of good quality soils. The tree itself is a legume and deposits nitrogen over time. Hence Brigalow country is also synonymous with good farming land. Somebody has done some research or it could indeed be that there is an Aussie patron somewhere in the background of this establishment.
By the way the BBQ was fantastic Xinjiang style lamb kebabs with lots of spices. Absolutely delish and any beer is a good compliment.
BotF North Asia has returned to its usual digs and back to Jenny Wang’s to survey any new coming sampling’s. Longboard Lager fresh from Hawaii both excited and surprised BotF as something completely out of the bag in the Middle Kingdom.
Kona Brewing kicked off in 1995 and boasts a quiver of no less than 10 beers which are brewed “regularly”. The Longboard was added in 1998 and has won a slurry of awards since the early 2002.
The label is fantastic and creates an aurora of anticipation of what a beer promoting all of what we know is fabulous about Hawaii tastes like; more on that later.
The Longboard is described as a “smooth refreshing lager fermented and aged for weeks at cold temperatures to yield its exceptionally smooth flavour”. Yes smooth is used twice in the same sentence we guess to reinforce its smoothness which is also highlighted in a further caption of “exceptionally smooth” on the website description.
There is a chance that the transit from the Hawaiian Nation to Zhong Guo may have been not so smooth and that the high temperatures whilst traversing the Equatorial region have affected this batch. That’s the only logical explanation having had regard to the noted awards. It’s rare when BotF can’t finish a beer and this one came very close.
During BotF’s recent trip to Switzerland we were very surprised to find what looks to be an Australian Craft Beer being marketed and brewed in Europe. There is no less than six different beers in the stable but unfortunately the website is all in German and Google translate didn’t really help a lot.
It appears as if Doppelleu Brewery which opened in Feb 2013 might have bought the Aussie recipe from somebody. Again no mention of Australia on the web despite forensic research for which BotF is so well known for.
BotF sampled the Chopfab Trueb and was delighted to find some very familiar flavours. The Trueb is very much a similar tasting beer to a McClaren Vale Vale Ale or a Knappstein with strong citrusy flavours and possibly the use of Sauvin hops. What is even more surprising is that the vertical label on the neck of the stubbie actually mentions that it is an Australian Golden Ale which is just visible in the photo insert if you look closely.
Time didn’t allow BotF to sample the other five brews but this will remain on the “to do” list for our next visit. In addition to a more detailed investigation of the Aussie lineage.
A 225 year company anniversary bought BotF to a unique place in Switzerland. Davos is best known for the annual World Economic Forum but is also highest city in the European Alps. The Berghotel Schatzalp is a fabulous venue largely still in its original state just above the city. It was once a hotel for lung disease patients who benefited from the high altitude and no doubt the surrounding panoramic.
BotF was also delighted to find that Davos has its own beer. Despite extensive research no mention of Monsteiner Huusbier could be found on the Internet and we suspect it is truly local. After an afternoon of hiking, traditional Swiss wrestling and summer bobsledding the Monsteiner offered a welcome titilation.
No preservatives or additives in this beer and the patrons recommended consumption is best after freshly brewed. Maybe it is the environs or the activity but BotF cannot recently recall when a liquid tasted so good. Well bodied with honeyed undertones, a wonderfully cloudy texture and colour. When in Davos climb a mountain and find the Monsteiner it is well and truly worth the exercise.
The sojourn to Shanghai to team up Bladdamaster for a fabulous couple days of beer-exploration would have been remiss without a visit to our old friend Leon at the Brew. Not much has changed the offing is still fantastic but judging by the number of awards since our last visit the Brew is definitely gaining notoriety. BotF is not at all surprised by the success.
Once again Mash was the clear standout. A wonderfully citrusy flavoured ale that lingers with the partaker well after sampling. It is not for the light of heart though. Our Chinese friends who joined us are more comfortable with watery but flavorsome beers available in China were physically shaken by the oral delights of Mash.
Shanghai really does offer a fantastic array for craft beer lovers, the groovy bars in the French Concession and also those in the modern part of the city. If the Brew lack any “grooviness” relative to its location it more than makes up for that in the quality of its beers. Congratulations on your success Leon keep punching them out and we look forward to our next visit.
Much has been written about China Railway High or CRH speed trains both good and bad but I have to admit I am a huge fan. Traveling by train has very much become my first choice for domestic transport as flights become increasingly unreliable with long delays and frequent cancelations.
Seats are comfy with plenty of leg room, tasty food, the scenery is great, the economics compared to air travel work and there is just something about traveling at 300 km very close to the ground that keeps one fixated.
China has a long history with trains but to be honest I think the exciting part of the story has only just begun. But please CRH reconsider your beer choices …… a “bing de Qingdao” would have made the trip perfect.
Craft beers are difficult to locate in the thriving metropolis of Gympie but nonetheless a growing franchise called the Thirsty Camel received one carton of the Vale Ale IPA this week.
Beijing Bachelors are colloquially referred to during the northern hemisphere summer holidays as a consequence of their spouses and siblings escaping the Metropolis for home or more serene landscapes. Typically this period see’s “BB’s” frequent local watering holes (more often than normal) in search marginally better conversion than the adopted new Labrador at home who only responds to questions in Zhong Wen.
The curiously named Swan with Two Necks has featured previously on BotF during Bladdamasters recent sojourn and is slowly becoming this North Asian correspondents replacement for the much loved Pomegranate although I still lament it’s sudden and heart wrenching demise.
De Konick was a very welcome Belgium surprise at the Swan with Two Beaks. Given this is a live post unfortunately further research doesn’t accompany the dialogue. However this is indeed a nice Kilkenny styled darker brew with subtle hints of liquorish and mint. One is left a little wanting with the size of the Stubbie at 330 mls but it has a medium slug at 5.6%.
Unfortunately the bar men refused hold the Stubbie to Zhao Zhao Pian for professional code of conduct reasons.
Jenny Wang’s continues to remain BotF’s North Asia correspondent’s best source of new and untried beers. Jenny’s as it is affectionately know with the locals is not only a great source of beer but is also a great place to shop and reminds me a lot of the local supermarkets in Australia in the 70′s & 80′s where there was always lots of help to bring those heavy Grocery bag’s to the car.
Mr. Shen (another alias) is one of those guys who you just love in an instant. He is a long term employee of Jenny’s and you always get a big loud “Ni Hao” and grin whever you see him. He falls overhimself to help you and won’t accept any prostestations. I explained BotF to Mr. Shen and he told me he had already heard of the site and the passionate beer pursuits of its members. When I asked if he would mind me taking a photo with a yet to be sampled beer and he almost couldn’t contain himself.
Weininger’s Hefe Weißbier is an old bavarian white beer made with the finest natural yeast and has the spicy taste of bananas and peaches. Those flavours do indeed come through although I had difficulty sensing the banana. Mr. Shen recomends it but only gives it two fingers out of a total three (which is the highest rating); I thought he was a bit harsh but nonetheless you have respect his opinion.