About Stumblingpiper

I've enjoyed my hobbies in many different states/countries. I like homebrewing, mountainbiking, bagpiping, and many others.

3 Places in 3 Days … 3/125 Places to Drink Beer Before you Die!

Still following All About Beer Magazine’s “Growler List” 125 best places in the world to have a beer.

I found myself in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand … as such I was able to hit 3 of the places in 3 days on the list!

It’s kind of funny … the order I visited these places is their numerical order on the list! They were #53, Lord Nelson’s Brewery and Hotel, #89, Iceberg’s on Bondi Beach, and #98, The Shakespeare Brewery. Let’s start in order.

#53: Lord Nelson’s

This is the oldest pub brewery in Australia along with the oldest licensed hotel. It is in the heart of the historic district and a great location to visit. They have an excellent selection of their own beers–and the bonus was you could do a tasting flight!

I thought the Three Sheets was an excellent Pale Ale.I also recommend the Anileation … the Stout. I had high hopes for the Nelson’s Blood, a porter, but it was just a little off. Everything else was really good.

To include the food.

This was an excellent stop; great atmosphere, very nice beer, and good food … what more do you want in your combination? Definitely deserves a spot on the 125.

#89 – Iceberg’s on Bondi Beach.

Ok, check out this location first and you’ll see why it is on the list.

The building closest to the ocean over there is Icebergs.Here’s a panoramic shot of the beach with Icebergs again on the right.Walking up to Icebergs you get a great view of the pool and the ocean.Looking back to the beach you can see the folks in the water … surfing. This beach is the birthplace of surfing in Australia.

We found a great seat at the bar inside and ordered some lunch and a couple of beers. The beer menu was not extensive, but so what.

This Little Creatures Pale Ale hit the spot and the service was excellent. Very nice folks and the food was very tasty.

I can see why this place is on the list … well worth a stop …

(Here’s a detour for you … we also took the ferry over to Manly Wharf (check my post about MTB’ing on my other blog). The ferry was $15 AUD there and back. It provided excellent views of the opera house on the way there.

After the ride, I enjoyed a nice Corona (haha).

Then we went back to the Wharf and had an excellent meal at the Bavarian Restaurant while watching the sunset. Here’s a couple of shots … I would say that this location rivaled Lord Nelson’s for setting, ambiance, and beer. You never know where the best beer place is gonna pop up!

Ok, finally, #98 — The Shakespeare Brewery and Hotel.

We landed in Auckland, checked into our hotel, and walked over to this place. The Boutique Hotel has been there over 120 years … the bar … i don’t know.

The brewery is the oldest brew pub in New Zealand. They are making really good beers AND they serve them in flights … bonus!

Perusing the menu, I noticed I could also have The Gentleman, a Stout, in the bottle. It was a lovely beer and made the end of our visit to this iconic location memorable.

I can definitely recommend this place too and agree with it being on the list if simply for the fact it is the first brew pub in NZ.

Although moving along what some might consider slowly (I’ve been working on this list for 10 years now), I feel like visiting on average 7+ places a year is pretty good! I’ve completed visits to 74 of the 125 (see my modifications) … only 51 to go … at 7 a year that means I should be finished in the next 7 years! A worthy goal.


Beer Mentor

Malaysia: The (lack of) Beers.

This won’t be a long post. Although I was in Malaysia for all of six days, I feel that there’s definitely a shortage of good beer places. Considering the fact that I was bird-watching (e.g., in the woods) for three days, maybe my observations are a little skewed. I did ask at a couple of places for what looked like a good beer … they were out. Basically, they enjoy their lagers … and not good ones. Well… Carlsberg is ok.

You can tell that I was drinking them … But for sure, they are lagers. So … if traveling to Malaysia, I wouldn’t make it a destination for craft beer drinking.

Beer Mentor

Thailand: The Beers.

Sorry for the delay in posts … I’m finding that the WiFi in Thailand was better overall than Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand (so far). Let’s hope that New Zealand access gets better!

I will say that, overall, the Thai beer options are way better than Cambodia or Laos. See my previous post for that. There were a decent amount of imports available at the local stores and they were not especially expensive. We bought a few here at the Mini Big C. I’m not sure if the Big C is mini or if the Big is mini which would make it a normal C. Either way, they had beers.

Here is the first beer I had in Thailand (in Chiang Rai) … it was also the last beer I had in Thailand! This was an excellent vollbier … I had a few of those during our month in Thailand.

It was nice that it came with the correct glass!My final beer … Yes, it’s a mini-glass, but not from the Mini-C.

We tried to hit a few craft beer places in Chiang Mai but our timing was off a couple of times. They seemed to be closed each time we rode our bikes by them. However, each western-style restaurant we tried seemed to have at least one decent beer.

This burger joint had the “Brew Dog” … nice.This was a Mexican place … Heineken. It was good too.

If we ate at a Thai place, and they had beer, it was usually Leo or Tiger (lagers) or something similar.

Here are a couple of pics of the beers I was able to pick up at the store. One Radner and the biggest can of Hefeweizen (outside of a keg) that I’ve ever seen!!

Yep, you can get Budweiser here in Thailand!

This Radler had a nice flavor … but I wouldn’t buy more than one.Yes, you can get Leo beer in the store.Here it is! The monster can!This photo shows you the size … I think it was at least 750 ml!A pop top for those who like it old school. It was quite tasty … I wish I had had the proper glass with which to drink!

All in all a decent beer drinking experience in Thailand. However, I found that my go to drink for dinner was these 2-for-1 mojitos! 5 dollars for two … yes please! We even presented the restaurant with an “award” for “Best Mojitos in Thailand!”


Beer Mentor

Cambodia/Laos … The Beers.

This will be a pretty short post — we traveled to a few places in these two countries. We took a boat ride up the Mekong from Vietnam to Cambodia stopping in Phnom Penh. Then we drove from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, stayed there a few days, and then flew to Luang Prabang in Laos. We traveled by boat from there (on the Upper Mekong) to Thailand. During this whole time, I actually only saw a few local beers.

In Cambodia, it was “Angkor.” I think I had one called “Cambodia Beer” too.

Both your typical warm-weather lagers … they were refreshing, but very limited. In Laos, it was even worse … just “Beerlao.”

However, you could get “dark” or “light” … both lagers. Oh well. I tried to get other beers, but they were usually out of the imports.

Oh, I forgot — we did try a local brew — it was Rice Whiskey … here’s the “Still.” The dog must have been at the alcohol.

However, after drinking it, I could swear this “lion” statue looked like a monkey. Haha.

Actually, it was very clean and crisp — and had a good kick!

Lol. On to Thailand!

Beer Mentor

Craft “Bia” (beer) … Vietnam.

We had an opportunity to tour from the North of Vietnam down to the South … In my previous post I shared all the different beers we had an opportunity to sample. From my 20 days of observation (very limited, I know) I came to this conclusion: Craft is alive and well in Vietnam. I wouldn’t call it American-style craft, but Viet Nam-style.

For instance, when we were in Hanoi, I didn’t see many “craft beer” places; however, they did serve “fresh” beer (see previous post). This is “craft” in my mind … small batches, serving the style the people enjoy, as fresh as possible–all very reasonably priced as well.

I didn’t see “craft” in the smaller cities (Hue, Hoi An, Sapa, etc), but we did see it in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). In Saigon I saw several craft beer / breweries on Google maps. I sampled beers from “Heart of Darkness” and visited Gammel Bier. They were both well-crafted. The place I really enjoyed was Pasteur Street Brewing.

It was near our Hotel (across the street). It wasn’t completely obvious how to get there, but the sign pointed to the alley … once in the alley it was easy to find the tap room.

We joined the other ex-pats/Europeans upstairs … there weren’t any Vietnamese (except for the servers). The beer was excellent (and so was the music).

It was kind of strange hearing Vietnam War protest songs while there but I guess it works for them. The food was excellent as well. Overall I would rate this place very highly and would recommend it as a locale for anyone visiting Saigon and looking for great beer.


Beer Mentor

Viet Nam: The Beers.

I just spent 20 days traveling through Viet Nam … I was pleasantly surprised with the beer offerings. As I have found in most warm weather climates, the predominant beer style is the American or European-style lager. In Hanoi, Sapa, Hue, Hoi An and on Halong Bay I had the following beers … most of the larger cities just have beers with their names.

This premium lager, Hanoi Beer, was typical … a malt base with a rice flavor in support. Not overly bitter … just a crisp, refreshing beer.This was a “beer cocktail.” The first thing it should have is real beer. This Tiger crystal is terrible — it is a poor imitation of bud light. However, the Tiger beer itself is pretty good. It too is just a firm lager.This DaiViet (which means ‘Great Viet’ … the great Viet empire) is a dark lager, in the German Altbier style … I enjoyed it as a refreshing alternative to all of the light lagers I’d been drinking. This is considered the National Beer of Vietnam … 333. It has a long history in Saigon, where it was originally named “33 beer”– a very popular beer with American GIs during the Vietnam War. The government changed the name to 333 after the war. 🙂

Not really that great … just a typical lager.Another premium Lager … this one, yes, is from Ha Long.Finally, I had this beer in Hanoi although it is a made in Saigon. As with most lagers here, don’t you want yours poured over ice? Haha. If you thought it was watered down before … wow.

This, too, was another premium lager, but they do taste good on a warm day when you’ve been riding around the countryside .

In Hanoi, there was another option for beer — it was called “Fresh Beer.” It was basically a very locally produced beer cask conditioned in a keg. Typically, when placed in the Keg, it would last 5 days — once opened, the keg had to be finished in 24 hours. You could get a glass for 5,000 dong (about 20 US cents). I thought it had a very nice, fresh flavor. If you find a place serving it, definitely cheaper than the rest and just as good!

In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), I was able to sample some local craft beers. The three breweries were: Heart of Darkness, Gammer, and Pasteur Street Brewing. I will have a separate post on Pasteur Street. I also had the local mass produced beer.

The Heart of Darkness beers were very good, but if you were concerned about what you were spending, these beers were between $4 and $5 dollars … if not concerned, I’d drink these all day long. The New England IPA just made me laugh …

We stopped for lunch one day in Saigon … at Gammer Brewery. Here’s a couple of pictures of their brewery setup. They specialized in German and Czech-style beers. I had the dark beer which was in the Schwarzbier style. Definitely recommend. Nice beer. The food was very traditional Vietnamese … and they don’t speak much English so be prepared! 🙂

When we arrived on the Mekong Delta and were cruising on board, the beer options were mostly Cambodian beers. That will be another post.

Overall, I would grade the beers a solid B and the craft beers were easily an A.

Beer mentor.

94. Felix in The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong (#71)

This is #94 on the list … over 70 places on the list now. Yes, I’m still making my way on the All About Beer Magazine’s “Growler List” 125 best places in the world to have a beer.

Some of the recent entries have seemed a little “dated.” I know they are great places, but they seem to be a little worn or have lost the “vibe” to newer places. Not The Felix. This is an exceptional bar with a fantastic view of the Hong Kong Harbor.

This bar is on the 28th floor of The Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon. If you are familiar with the James Bond films, you will recognize this hotel from Roger Moore’s “The Man With the Golden Gun” movie. However, the Felix didn’t exist when that movie was filmed in 1974. The hotel is known for its fleet of courtesy cars … Rolls Royces. Unfortunately, they didn’t pick us up from our hotel … we had to walk.

The bar doesn’t open until 1730 … but once it does, you ride the elevator specifically for the bar / restaurant. You get to the top, walk into the restaurant and open your mouth to the view, just like everyone else.

I ordered a beer and sat at the bar before we had dinner. It was a special IPA, made locally, with a slang name: “gwei-lo.” It means “pale guy” (or whitey) in English … slang for foreigner. Kind of funny. It was quite tasty though!

We reserved a table by the window to watch the everyday 8pm light show across the harbor. The dinner was ok … you can just visit the bar and enjoy a beer if you’d like. I highly recommend a stop if you are in Hong Kong. Definitely deserves to be on the list!

Oh, finally, what beer goes in must come out. If you go to the men’s room, you have a fantastic view while standing at the Urinal as well. Haha.