A family friend and lover of beer sent this video to my dad the other day. It’s from the United club at the Tokyo airport in Japan. Judging by the looks of it, and what I know about Japanese beer, it’s probably either Sapporo, Asahi or Kirin. The separate tube for foam is a little strange, don’t you think?
- Matt Pritchard
Or so says the lede in travel writer Evan Rail’s look at the relatively new trend of soaking one’s body in beer. The soaking in beer article, describes several brew houses in Europe who are providing visitors with the ability to possibly fulfill a life-long dream of sinking, inch, by inch, into a big, hot, vat of warm beer. What, that wasn’t your life-long dream? Well, excuse me for desiring some of the finer things in life.
The truth is, I think I’ve seen everything under the sun in the realm of soaking one’s body in hot liquid. There is mud, of course, and champagne, and certain kinds of dung. There is the always exciting Ganges River and soaking in thermal pools with who-knows-what in mineral form bubbling up from the depths of the earth.
My point is that soaking in beer is a novelty, unless you consider the fact that the holistic part of beer, the combination of brewed grains, yeast, hops and pure water, might actually hold some amazing health secrets. I figure it’s worth a try. Who knows, beer just might be the Fountain of Youth. Too bad we didn’t realize that it’s might not be in consuming it but in soaking our weary bones in it.
So, get yourself a few growlers of your favorite low-alcohol beer, though I’m not entirely sure why that matters, and go fill up your bathtub and see if it does the trick.
Finally got to try a Kingfisher. Remember how I said alcohol is a bit of sensitive subject here in India, well, I’ve tried to treat it that way and be as discreet as possible, especially around Muslim and Hindu friends who do not partake and who look down on those who do.
Some good friends of mine were gracious enough to run me to a late-night market to buy a couple bottles, which ran about 50 cents a piece.
I carefully wrapped them up and took them to their penthouse apartment, where we casually sipped them in coffee mugs in case of visitors.
Forbidden pleasures are often more enjoyable because they’re forbidden, and not being able to drink a beer whenever you want makes your thirst and first taste in a while all that more fun.
Kingfisher strong is a sweet beer with plenty of malt and though you can feel it, it’s got almost no alcohol on the nose. This makes the beer really refreshing and quite easy to drink quickly, though it should probably be sipper.
We’ve been watching the great Bollywood hits like “Om Shanti Om” and “Dhoom 2″ while enjoying our beverages in the cool of the evening, which really lends to the experience of enjoying Indian beer.
Alas, I’ve still not found an IPA. I’m headed to Kolkata tomorrow, perhaps I’ll find it there.
Sorry for the delay, It took some time to find Indian beer believe it or not. In this country, dominated by Hindus and a minority of Muslims, beer, and any liquor for that matter, is a difficult thing to find. Still, I’m an intrepid beer explorer, and even here, in the Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan, I have found beer.
I just want to reassure all of you that I am safe. Many have inquired about my safety here in India, and I am among friends in a country that loves Americans very much.
After the terrorist activity in Mumbai, my sister and I canceled our trip there. We were supposed to stay in the Taj Hotel, the very epicenter of India’s 9/11.
Instead, we went hiking in the hills above Jaipur, to the ruins of the old Nahargharh Fort that stands above the city like a sentinel still waiting for some approaching army.
In the cool of a shaded courtyard, I saw a uniformed waiter serving beer in amber bottles. Without asking which we would like, he poured us a Royal Challenge Premium Lager. It was crisp and cold, a perfect thirst quencher on a warm Indian fall day.
We drank it quickly with vegetables fried in chickpea flour, another great beer snack I found.
After looking around again and realizing that everyone was drinking from bottles with a red label, we called our waiter back to our table and inquired about the difference. “Oh, you wouldn’t want this beer, it is a strong beer.” I was offended, and nearly stood up to voice my displeasure at his arrogance, but my good friend stayed my impetuousness and told the man to, “just bring the beer, man.”
At eight-percent ABV, the Godfather 10,000+ Premium Strong Lager was delightful. It added the heady experience to a relaxing chat after a long and arduous day of shopping in the bazaars of Jaipur. Both beers were light-colored lagers with a lot of barley flavor. The malt was evident, but not too forward as in continental European beers. Indian lagers seem to have more in relation to Canada’s famed strong lagers than any other country I’ve so far visited.
I’ve still to try Kingfisher beer, one of India’s favorites, and I’m on the prowl for other interesting beers from this big and loveable country.
It’s 5 a.m., and I’m in Frankfurt, in the heart of the one of the most dedicated beer countries on earth. I see a guy drinking a huge stein of something pilsnery looking, and I’m conflicted. I’ve just flown from Denver to Frankfurt, and I’m about to board a Boeing 747 to fly over who-knows-how-many war zones on the way to India. I need to sleep, but should I pass up having a beer in Germany. Every beer lover should do that given the chance.
Ah, the good thing for me is that I have a longer layover in Frankfurt on my return flight. I think I shall delight in a Germanic brew upon my return and save my taste buds for whatever India can throw at me.
Next post from India!
Craft brew really has made it across the Pacific.
This is from my good friend Peter Bowling, a business man, philanthropist, AIDS activist working in China.
Take it away Pete -
Here’s a shot of the import beer section. There used to be just about nothing in the way of good beer here, but now we are getting more and more appearing on the shelves of these import stores. I took this picture, but almost got my head taken off by the security guard. He came at me swinging his arms hoping to get in the way before I took a snapshot… but obviously he didn’t succeed. ‘No photography in the store… there’s a sign up front…’ I glanced around, half expecting to see armed guards with dogs, and a ‘China Customs – no photography beyond this point’ sign… but there wasn’t… just regular supermarket signage. Oh well. At least they have good beer… so what if they won’t let me take pictures. I’ll just have to be more stealthy next time.
Here’s a lineup of the beers we tasted tonight… only cost me about $20 for 8 bottles of good import beer… we divided the beers between the appetizers, the meal, and post-meal. Dried fish soaked in dark vinegar is really a great choice to go with almost any beer.
This was the first one we tried, and our least favorite. I would choose a Chinese wheat beer over this, at 1/20 the cost. The actual flavor was hard to detect because it was weak, and the beer tasted flat to begin with. I only drank it down because we don’t waste beer. If there’s ever leftover beer that no one will drink, we use it in the marinade brine for the next BBQ.
This was one of our favorites, in our top 3. Not too light or heavy, and an interesting flowery flavor or aftertaste. It’s called ‘island lager’, which I guess it kind of tasted island-ish…
We were not impressed with this beer, which made it into our bottom 3. It wasn’t bad, just wouldn’t be a top choice for me. I don’t know what ‘white beer’ is supposed to taste like, but I guess this is it. It was smooth, not sharp, weak flavor, and kind of murky appearance (as its unfiltered).
I think this is the first time I have tried an ‘auburn Lager’. The color was intriguing. The picture doesn’t show clearly the distinct sharp color. The flavor was a little bit sour, and not as good as the Long Board Lager, but I would still prefer this beer above many.
This beer had a very strong flavor, high in hops, and on the higher end of alcohol (8.5%). I didn’t particularly like the boldness of it. I could tell the beer was quality, the flavor wasn’t bad, and I didn’t dislike it, but I wouldn’t likely choose it very often as it might make me full before my meal does. Somehow this filled me up faster than a heavy dark beer does.
This is one of the beers I have been fascinated by lately. It’s a ‘lambic beer’ made by Lindemans. This is the peach flavor. I like this one as a refreshing drink, but it didn’t make it into my top 3. Very sweet, sour, good full flavor, low alcohol (2.5%). I am most intrigued by the way this beer is made.
This, although it’s not a beer, was a big disappointment. The flavor seemed watery, lower alcohol than I’d expect from a cider (5%), and just overall not very tasty, not refreshing, and not worth drinking again.
Now this one… has been my favorite so far. Since the first drink I had a couple weeks ago, I have been excited about this beer. This is also a ‘lambic’ made by Lindemans, flavored with raspberries. Just the smell gives away the secret that you’re in for a treat. The deep color is amazing, the flavor is like eating a handful of sun-ripened raspberries right off the vine. Every time I finish one of these, I wish I had bought more. And I think I most certainly will…
Thanks for sharing Pete, and keep sending those dispatches from China. We love hearing that craft beer is taking over the world.
It’s 8.8.08. That means it’s time for the Beijing Olympics to start. Word from friends on the ground in China is that there are too many people and too many threats to worry about making the trip to Beijing.
They, like me, will watch the Olympics from the comfort of their apartments hundreds and thousands of miles from the spectacle in Beijing.
I like watching the Olympics because unlike, say, soccer, they offer a larger picture of what the country, as a whole, has accomplished.
Yes, individuals are celebrated, but on the whole, it is the teamwork, the glory and honor of the unique nations of the world that we come together to watch and celebrate.
It can be said that certain nations have excelled at various sports. Hockey and the Russians comes to mind. The U.S. and basketball for instance. But in many sports, the title of Best in the World is up for grabs at any given event.
And while the host country often shows well, (China stands to bring home a lot of gold) even the smallest nations of the world have a chance at glory. I think that is one of the things we love and appreciate about the Olympics.
Of course, my wife will tell you she likes the heart-wrenching profiles NBC does of the athletes.
Anyway, all that to say that I believe the world’s great brewing nations have similarities to the Olympics. It’s not always right to honor one individual beer from any one place as the Best of the Best. But taken as a whole, the brewing accomplishments of each nation, or even region for that matter, add to the color and splendor of the beer culture worldwide.
With that in mind, I give you a partial list of what I think are some of the great beer styles of the nations and regions.
Disclaimer: I have not tried all of these beers. I rely on data from Beer Advocate and other beer rating sites to talk about beers from areas that I have not tried or don’t know well.
Each day of the Olympics, I’ll post another country and its beers.
Because it is the host country, we’ll begin with China.
China: Brewing tradition in China goes way back to early German settlers at the start of the 20th Century. But many of the styles produced are very light, dry lagers. In recent years, a few brave micro brewers showed up and began producing stronger and darker beers that influenced the larger breweries to produce their own stronger, darker styles. While not varied, China produces a vast amount of beer, and they are importing a lot of Chinese beer to the United States. On the flipside, American craft brewers are starting to get a feel for the Chinese market, and that market is responsive.
Gold – Too Soo, Hong Kong Brewing Co.
Silver – Tsingtao Dark, Tsingtao Brewery Group
Bronze – Henry’s Pale Ale, Henry’s Bar and Grill
Good luck athletes,
Who would have thought?
I found this delicious lager at the Good Food Store last week. I was going to save it for a sunny day, but it looks like we’re back to winter weather here in Missoula. So I popped it open for dinner tonight instead.
This is a great fresh-tasting lager with more than a hint of hops. This one is chewy, with a ton of real lager flavor. There’s a citrus characteristic to the hops and a slight acidity that makes this beer great with food. The taste is a little surprising at first. You’re thinking lager, but this beer smells like a good pale ale and tastes like a light IPA. I like whoever thought of putting hops in a lager. Keep it up. Finally, a dry lager with hop for sushi lovers.
Eisenbahn’s Escura, a dark lager, is the find of the week from Worden’s Market. This roasted dark lager was an impulse buy but a good one. Not to mention the fact that it comes from Brazil of all places.
With roasted tones of mocha and anise, this lighthearted lager with a dark look is a very pleasant beer with food. It has enough body to hold up to heartier fair like tomato sauces, but it’s light enough to match with soft cheeses and salads.