Here’s a few remaining snippets from Yangshuo and Guilin.
A speciality of Guilin and Yangshuo is Beer Fish or pi jiu yu. This is often a catfish steamed in beer and then served in a tomato sauce that looks like sweet and sour. We thought we’d missed out, but we snuck it in as our last meal of our Guilin leg. It was good, but the stars were the cucumber served Guilin style with garlic, chilli and vinegar. Outstanding.
We hadn’t eaten during our rooftop pub crawl and I’d read about the London Tavern that had recently opened. This was our first Western meal and it didn’t disappoint. I had Cumberland bangers and mash, whilst my daughter ate an “awesome” steak sandwich. The inside design, the beer menu, the food and the English chef/proprietor complete with chef’s whites transport you from Yangshuo to a UK tavern. The beer list was awesome and Thwaites beers are well represented. I hadn’t the Lancaster or the Indus Pale Ale and they were both terrific. Great if you want a break from Liquan beer, Guilin noodles and beer fish.
Another oddity is Le Votre. This is a relative veteran of Yangshuo and is in most of the guidebooks for its food. A Karst provides an impressive backdrop to restaurant and a small brewing operation.
They make a pale ale and a black beer. I never got to the black beer, but their pale was underwhelming. Still marks for being the only craft brewer in Yangshuo.
The last place of note is a bar that doubles as a Bike Shop/Tour Arranger/Rockclimb organiser during the day. At night Bike Asia becomes the Rusty Bolt.
Yangshuo is a serious rock climbing region with hundreds of climbs “bolted”. In the evening wiry people talk about the day’s events over a range of German and local beers.
Talk about maximising your space.
I love a good rooftop bar and Yangshuo has three of the best. All offer the most spectacular views and if there’s a better twilight and evening on a rooftop in China, I’d be very surprised. None are easy to find, but they are all worth the effort. What adds to the impressive spectacle is that the Karsts are lit up once the sun sets, making the back drop even more dramatic.
Monkey Jane is an infamous hostel. This place is all about partying very hard and budget drinking. The rooftop bar is up 6 flights of stairs. The views are 270 degrees and 360 degrees if you are insane enough to climb up a rusty ladder to the water tower. (Yes, I was insane enough). You can the other two bars in the second photo. Get here for twilight before the shooters come out.
Mojo Rooftop Bar is the easiest to find, so long as you know to go through a hotel foyer which also has a silver smith and a doctor fish spa (fish that eat dead skin off your feet). There’s a lift which gets you to the 4th floor then walk to the 6th. This is the most substantial of the 3 bars. Large indoor and outdoor areas with one of most inclined pool tables in it as well. This place is definitely a dancer’s paradise, but also provides an amazing view of the third bar, which is silhouetted against the Bi Lian Karst that dominates the Yangshuo skyline. A couple of unique German beers as well with the Hessenbrau Weizen being really good.
The last of the trio is the Showbiz Rooftop Bar. Again tough to find, but we kind of knew where it was by judging its location from the Mojo. This bar sits on top of a youth hostel and whilst there is some nudge-nudge entendre to the names of the drinks – it isn’t in the League of Monkey Jane. Looking up to Bi Lian, which by this stage is all lit up, is a real thrill.
A must do pub crawl for any Yangshuo visitor.
Whenever your correspondent visits Melbourne the first thing I do is check Crafty Pint. As always the recommended pubs are spot on so, after a hard day adding shareholder value at my day job, your correspondent found himself at The Gertrude Hotel in Fitzroy.
I have a pretty simple maxim when judging a pub. If, and this is a big if, I was single and sans kids, would said pub be suitable as my local on the corner? In the case of The Gertrude the answer is a resounding yes.
On the night that #hipstergeddon struck the counter culture hotbeds of North Fitzroy and Northcote I was at the bar at the Gertrude in the middle of ‘Dark Beer’ month and 16 rotating craft beer taps. The service could not be faulted and the lass behind the bar was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about all the beers.
In short the Gertrude is a brilliant, warm little pub definitely worth a visit if you’re into your craft beers. The take away selection is also top notch.
As Bladdamaster can attest one of the truly great things about living in Zhongguo is the wonderful selection of International beers that are of offer. A visit to Jenny Wang’s almost always will reveal a previously un-sampled morsel. On the afternoon that I bought this beer I was in a bit of rush and quickly picked what looked like another Belgian brew and headed for home. Later that evening in a more relaxed atmosphere I took my fist sip and was taken aback by the fruity explosion that tasted much more like a cider than a beer. I looked at the label again and despite my Dutch not being as good as my Portuguese (which is non-existent) I was able to clearly make out the words “beer” but further research was needed. The and despite the difficulties of YouTube access in China I was fascinated to find a Rolf Harris lookalike with a very scientific but fascinating documentary on the beer brewing process from what looks like to be the mid 70’s. Anyway back to the beer itself Pecheresse is certainly a different style of beer and probably not typical of what’s expected from a Belgian brewer; having said that though it has a refreshingly different taste.
On Saturday and Sunday at the Australian Hotel in Sydney’s Rocks, the 7th Australian Beer Festival was held. Now Mrs Bladdamasta (and doesn’t she like that sobriquet!) doesn’t make many appearances on these pages. It would be fair to say that she is not the world’s biggest beer fan. However, with the promise of a smorgasbord of cider, Mrs B (that sounds better) made the trip on the ferry with me and we enjoyed a fine Saturday afternoon in the Rocks.
It’s a good value afternoon (so long as you can resist the temptation of t-shirts and other beer related trinkets). $5 for a tasting glass and $10 for 10 tasting tickets. A tasting ticket gets you probably 50ml of beers. If you liked something, you could use two tickets for a double shot. There was a couple of Macro brewers in amongst a sea of craft brewers. For example, the South African-Anglo brewer Cascade was there. As my @Untappd account revealed, it was an opportunity to try many beers that I hadn’t seen let alone sampled before. For Mrs B, she was pretty happy as a number of tents had a cider available as welll. Our first beverage of the day was a glass of Aussie Cider (I think the only only-cider stall). This drop ended up winning cider of the day.
Mrs B proceeded to rip through a few ciders – Pipsqueak Pear Cider and a Rocks Brewery Pickpocket Apple Cider amongst them. She declared the Pickpocket to be her favourite. Also sampled was a newcomer to the Australian Beer Scene – Shady Lady Beer. This is a highly distinctive beer – self proclaimed as “Lightly perfumed refreshing lager beer”, Shady lady is a rose infused lager “designed by women for women”. Mrs B tried some and said “It’s like drinking a liquid Turkish Delight…I’ve never really liked Turkish Delight” I had a sniff – you either like that scent or you don’t. Not for me.
The two highlights were 1) trying a number of beers that I hadn’t had before. Roadtrip IPA by Holgate Brewhouse, Porter by Illawarra Brewing Company, a Pilsner and a Bock from the Balmain Brewing Company, Raw from Pinchgut Brewing Co, anything from HopDog Beerworks and Vale IPA (please bottle that baby and send it North).
The second highlight is meeting some of the people behind the beers and putting faces to the twitter accounts and webpages. It is great to have a yarn to Jaron from 4 Pines, Gerard from Pinchgut, the jovial fellas from Balmain Brewing and the guys from Holgate. It’s a long day for all these guys – the set up, answering the same questions, dealing with pissheads etc – but they all seem to love it. The good news for us beer drinkers is that the brewers are universally positive about their businesses and what they do – long may it continue. Cheers to you all.
The Rugby League season is drawing to a close here in NSW and the State of Origin is well and truly lost (2-1 to Queensland for those who care) but it has taken your correspondent this long to put his finger on why NSW cannot win it ever again – unless we take drastic action.
For the last 6 years NSW look beaten as they run out on to the ground for each game. Expressions are hangdog, body language is appalling. There is a seemingly incurable malaise. The Queenslanders run on and play like their next meal depends on it. I thought of a few theories – NSW players are after wedge and put club over a seemingly arbirtrary idea of your state of origin, the dominance and skill of the Queensland quartet of Smith, Slater, Thurston & Lockyer, the NSW players have a large cockroach as their inspiring mascot……..
These all play a part but I believe the root cause for the Queensland dominance is their siege mentality. For years when flying north from the southern capitals the joke before landing was to set your watch back 60 minutes and your mind back 60 years. Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen ruled Queensland from 1968 – 1987 through a combination of tough, Old West-style right wing policies and continual gerrymandering to maintain a political majority. Queensland became a laughing stock and they remained ignorant of this…till 6 years ago. Suddenly the world (or at least NSW) was against them and they banded together at this outrage.
How can NSW ever hope to beat this circle-the-wagons mentality and return the SASMAMSOO shield back to the rightful state? Easy. The NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell needs to ignore the left wing cronies of the State Liberal Party and send NSW back to the good old days of late 20th century Queensland. Ban gatherings larger than 2 persons, ban homosexuality, ban free thinking, close all the libraries, block the interweb, corrupt the police force (oops ..already done), maneouver political boundaries to his advantage. All these are a good start so that by next State of Origin the NSW Blues should be repressed sufficiently to form a tight, seamless unit and take back the honours.
Here at botf we are fan of their beers but for me, not this one so much. I found the Redoak Organic Pale Ale had a heady, almost overripe fruit smell, was cordial sweet and had lots of fizz. I though it might be a one off and a subsequent tasting was a little more pleasant. Still, not their finest hour in my humble opinion.
The Wolseley and it’s ilk are indeed as rare as hen’s teeth in Sydney. The range of beer is macro brewery standard but that’s cool because they pride themselves on the cleanliness of their beer lines, the cheap bangers & mash and delicately flaunting local council rules with outdoor tables.
I am blessed as this is my work local. It’s de riguer to have a few bevadol fortes here at Friday lunch and if you are ever booked in your Outlook Calendar for meeting room ‘LW’, you can keep your bar tab receipts – it’s a work offsite – I can prove it.
Over a number of years, this correspondent has occasionally taken overseas business visitors on a night out in Manly. In the old days, the trip would consist of a trip on the Back of the Ferry – and a long-neck in a brown paper bag would be thrust in our guest/’s’ hand. Once at Manly, we’d commandeer a cab and do the run up to North Head, dodge bandicoots before going to the lookout, which gives one of the great panoramas of Sydney and the Harbour (even better at sun set). Depending on the personality of the client, we’d then head to either the Harbord Hilton for a very large seafood platter and schooners or Garfish for grilled fish and chardonnay. Every now and then, particularly if the client was a real pisshead – we’d end up at the Steyne and introduce them to punting in a pub.
One night sticks in the memory, when a couple of us entertained a hefty bloke that hadn’t been outside Iowa – bar a honeymoon to Hawaii. He looked like he was enjoying himself and we were ripping schooners into him at a frantic pace. He started to struggle with the seafood platter – restricting himself only to the battered stuff – but smiled bravely. We then got in a punting frenzy – schooners still flying everywhere – when he suddenly sat bolt upright and said “I need to go home”. We piled him into a cab, wondered for a second if he was ok, and returned to our punting frenzy. He turned up to the office the next morning – almost on time – but was as green as a shamrock and said very little.
I met him six months later in Iowa, and he confessed that he got back to the hotel and chundered his guts out. He hadn’t had a session like it for a decade and that it would be another 10 years before he did it again. He was very pleasant about it, but I entertained myself that evening in Des Moines.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with the “Hilton” or “Garfish”, the itinerary I prefer now is a visit to Murray’s at Manly followed by a visit to the 4 Pines. Now, once Murray’s at Manly’s (@murraysbrewing)restaurant is up and running, we’ll alternate between dinner at each venue – but at the moment – once alighting the ferry (and possibly after a trip to the Heads) it is off the Murray’s for a few magnificent bevvies and then on the 4 Pines (@4PinesBeer)for a few more magnificent bevvies and din-dins.
Cam & Rory, our inductees had proven their mettle in Melbourne, and were prepared for anything we could throw at them. There would be no repeat of the Iowan incident. First stop was Murray’s at Manly, which has half the venue under renovation. No matter, the beer taps still work and the boys were blown away by what flowed from them. I was delighted to see a new brew available – and tried a Vesuvius Premium Lager. Prior to the arrival of Murray’s at Manly, we would have missed out on these releases – but no more. This is an awesome beer. “Premium Lager” makes me think board-room, Crown or James Boags – but this is far different. It’s big on the hops, and it is simply bigger than a traditional Australian lager. 7.1%, great aromas, lip-smacking taste. Thanks, Murray, for coming to Manly.
Next stop – dinner – and we headed to the 4 Pines. Now, I’m a member of the 4 Pines Club and probably received an E-Mail notifying me, but I’d totally forgotten that it was the 4 Pines’ 3rd birthday. Lucky us – that made me eligible to win double my weight in beer – but I lucked out. That was the only disappointment. The Melbourne lads are good on the tooth and ordered one of everything, which were rapidly demolished. The lads loved the Kolsch and Rory gave his celtic seal of approval to the Stout, which had been launched only 3 nights before. Happy birthday to 4 Pines, Andrew and all the crew.
I should point out that there is nothing wrong with either the Harbord Hilton (@harbordhilton) or Garfish (@garfishseafood) – and there’ll be visits there in the future – with or without overseas guests. But gees it’s good to have two beer restaurants in Manly.
Back in the 1980′s I remember hearing over the radio that some Sydney cabbie had just been named “the world’s best taxi driver” at some gala event in the US. I can’t find any mention on Wikipedia of this highly regarded competition (so it can’t have happened) but I always imagined it was some cheeky inner city cabbie who had passed, with flying colours, various challenges that involved getting a passenger from A to B in a city where he had to learn the street grid anew (surely it would have held in a neutral venue?), passenger courtesy, honesty and maybe a mystery challenge that involved all of the above and a drunk that hurls his kebab all over the plastic-covered back seats (do you remember those in cabs?!).
I remember there being no cries of outrage or ‘can you believe its’ from my parents at the time. But can you imagine any Sydney, Melbourne or Aussie cabbie winning such an event now? Apart from a few outstanding examples, I reckon no Aussie cabbie would trouble the scorers if such an event is still held today.
My peculiar beef with cabbies is that most have no idea where you want to go. Regular readers will know I’m from Sydney. I go to Melbourne alot for work. I work for a large corporate in a pretty central location. Without fail I have had to direct every cab from the airport to this address. Give’s me the irrits.
Anyway, a cabbie did get me to Biero Bar where I enjoyed a Doctors Orders Synapse. I had absolutely no expectations of this brew. Doctors Orders ( @DRsOrdersBrewin ) produces a regular seasonal brew with Synapse being the latest. I understand its actually brewed in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Saison (“season”) beers were traditionally low alcohol pale ales served to field workers during the harvest. They were low alcohol so the workers did not get legless and fall asleep in the product. Synapse ain’t pale and it ain’t low alcohol. It’s Tooheys Old dark and comes in at 6% ABV. It was a solid, “delicious” beer with a hint of sweetness. Look out for it. I’ve also seen it at Harts Pub in Sydney.
Several lifetimes ago your correspondent travelled solo round the world with nothing but my internal monologue for company. This may explain why I haven’t listened to it for several years but I reckon it’s more to do with the mobile phone & ipod-sodden society we now live in. Have you looked about last time you were on a bus, train or tram? Probably not ’cause you were on your phone or listening to your ipod. Every single one of us is tapping/listening away. I recall a favourite Brit comedian of mine, Sean Lock, railing against this insidious blocking out of our mental processes, exclaiming “God forbid that a conscious thought is allowed to form” when he’s continually noticed commuters getting to their seats and hurriedly attaching their headphones.
Anyways, the role of botf correspondent carries certain responsibilities. One is to hunt out quality craft beers and taste and talk about them. This must be done whether in company or on your lonesome. We at botf agree that one of the joys of beer is the camaradarie and shooting the breeze. But a blog is a blog.
So my internal monologue has returned and is often at hand as I wander into new and wondrous bars and beer cafes. It’s when I start talking back to it I really need to worry.
My internal monologue and I are in Bar Biero on half price pint night and I’m trying the Rogue Ales Yellow Snow IPA. Rogue Ales, out of Portland, Oregon, produce some mighty fine beers and we earlier reviewed their Dead Guy Ale. Rogue Ales love producing beers to celebrate events. Yellow Snow is no different as it was released to mark the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Yellow Snow is a fullsome brew, a meal-in-a-pint. It had a fruity, orange kickoff. I found it quite bitter for this style of beer but all in all a very good drop.