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.

Miscellaneous Growler List Photos …

As a reminder, this list is my effort to complete the All About Beer Magazine’s “Growler List.”  125 best places in the world to have a beer.

From the summary — see my earlier post for explanation:

Total (actual) places visited: 70.  A few years ago, my brothers and my best friend joined me in Europe for a 2 week beer swing.  Not sure I posted about that, but here are a few random photos from that trip …

3) U Fleku (Prague, Czech Rep) … great place … nice “ambience” … yeah, i was without luggage for a few days …

6) Augustiner Keller (Munich, Germany) … my brother and I hit this as one of the last places before he had to depart the country.  Worth a stop in warm weather. 🙂


28) Zum Uerige (Dusseldorf, Germany).  Too commercialized now … there are other Altbier locations to visit that have great beer and decent service.  It was quite active though! 

37) Atelier am Dom (Cologne, Germany).  Views — spectacular!  Beer — pretty good.  Highly recommend. 

41) Blues Bar (Stone Town, Zanzibar).  [This place was closed so I substituted Mercury’s … you can see the old Blues Bar in the distance]  I took this photo from Mercury’s patio.

61) Krcma (Ceske Krumlov, Czech Rep).  The food was good … beer was Ok.  locale was spectacular!

68) Gösser Bierklinik (Vienna, Austria).  Hard to argue about a place that’s been there for hundreds of years. 

73) Schlenkerla Brewery Tavern (Bamberg, Germany).  Whoa!  That smoked beer … amazing!  The town is fantastic too.

77) Die Weisse (Salzburg, Austria).  An interesting stop as we were passing through the country. 

78) Halve Maan Brewery (Brugge, Belgium).  Yep, six  years ago I was there on my birthday.  They almost spelled my name right!  But it was a great tour, great beer, great location.  Did I say it was great?

90. Cantillon Brewery and Gueuze Museum (Brussels, Belgium). Wow, wow. and wow.  Highly recommend a sto here. wow.



Beer Mentor.

Growler List: Summary Update #6 … not Final

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

Ok, I said it was my final entry last May … but I changed my mind!  Yes, I’m still scouting out new bars/places to enjoy a cold, refreshing beverage, but I will continue to work on this list because, dang it, I like to work on lists.

Summary: Total (actual) places visited: 70 (55 remain on the list).  I’ve worked very hard on correcting my list, so I think I’ve visited 4 (and sub’d 2) places since my last post:

#93: Bruxellensis Festival of Characterful Beers.  Unfortunately, this festival is defunct.  Darn.  I would have loved to go to this one!  I’ve substituted an equally appropriate one: Big Beers, Belgians, and Barley Wines in Breckenridge, CO.

#10: The Great Canadian Beer Festival.  This was definitely a good festival–I wouldn’t call it great.  Because of the laws in Canada, you can’t just buy one ticket and drink all the beers you want (like in the US festivals).  You have to purchase a token for a “sample.”  The samples are larger so you won’t be able to taste several beers without stumbling back to your hotel.  Oh well, if I must.

#23: Henry’s 12th Street Tavern.  This was a very nice place in Portland, OR.  I visited with my brother and sister … with the abundance of great places now, I would rank this one down the list … worth a stop if you are in the area, but not worth going out of your way to get there.

#36: McMenamins’ Kennedy School Hotel, Portland, OR.  This one is worth a visit!  The brewery, restaurant, and hotel are all in an old elementary school complex.  Definitely a unique location with ample parking.  Worth a detour!

Here’s the complete list of places I’ve visited … new entries in Bold. Substitutes in Italics.

1. Great American Beer Festival, Denver, CO (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2016)
2. The Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium (2010) (2012)
3. U Fleku, Prague, Czech Republic (2012)
5. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany  (1998) (2012)
6. Augustiner Keller, Munich, Germany (2012)
7. Abbaye de Notre-Dame d’Orval, Orval, Belgium (2009) (2012)
10. The Great Canadian Beer Festival, Victoria [BC] (2017)
11. Hofbrauhaus, Munich, Germany (1997, 1998, 2001, 2012)
12. The Brickskeller (now Bier Baron), Washington, DC (2005, 2011)
14. The Market Porter, Stoney Street, London, England (2010)
15. Cat’s Eye Pub, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD (2011)
16. Camden Yards (Baltimore) [Substitute] (2008, 2009)
(Original: Fenway Park)

18. Horizon’s Cafe – CN Tower (Toronto, Canada) (2016)
19. Glengarry Highland Games Beer Tent (Maxville, Ontario) (2003, 2011) [Substitute]
(Original: Saratoga Race Course)
22. German Bundesliga (Kaiserslautern) (1997) [Substitute]
(Original: Daytona Motor Speedway)
23. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern (Portland, OR) (2018)
24. Hopleaf, Chicago, IL (2014)
25. World Beer Festival, Durham/Raleigh, NC (2011)
28. Zum Uerige, Düsseldorf, Germany (2012)
29. Toronado, San Francisco (CA) (2017)
30. The Olde Mitre Tavern, Ely Court, Hatton Garden, London, England (2010)
31. Cowboys/Redskins, FedEx Field Skybox (DC) (2009) [Substitute]
(Original: Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

32. Rogue Brewery, Newport (OR) (2017)
33. The Wynkoop Brewery, Denver, CO (2011)
36. McMenamins’ Kennedy School Hotel, Portland, OR (2018)
37. Atelier am Dom, Cologne, Germany (2012)
38. Anchor Brewing, San Francisco (CA) (2017)
39. The Flying Saucer, NC, SC, TN, AR and TX (2010, 2013)
41. Blues Bar, Stone Town, Zanzibar (closed)
[substitute: Mercury’s] (2013)

42. Sandlot Brewery (seems perpetually closed)
[substitute: Great Divide Barrel Bar), Denver (CO)] (2016)

43. Clark Street Ale House, Chicago, IL (2014)
44. Tailgating Frankfurt Galaxy NFL Europe Game (1996, 1997) [Substitute]
                 (Original: Tailgate SEC game. Sorry, Big 12 fan)
45. Selin’s Grove Brewing, Selinsgrove, PA (2010)
47. The Map Room, Chicago, IL (2014)
48. The Blue Tusk, Syracuse, NY (2010)
51. The White Horse Pub, Parsons Green, London, England (2010)
54. Falling Rock Tap House, Denver, CO (2011)
57. Andechs Monastery, Andechs, Germany (2010) (2012)
61. Krcma, Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic (2012)
66. Delirium Café, Brussels, Belgium (2010) (2012)
68. Gösser Bierklinik, Vienna, Austria (2012)
71. Brewer’s Art, Baltimore, MD (2010)
73. Schlenkerla Brewery Tavern, Bamberg, Germany (2012)
77. Die Weisse, Salzburg, Austria (2012)
78. Halve Maan Brewery, Bruges, Belgium (2012)
80. Le Bier Circus, Brussels, Belgium (2010) (2012)
82. Irseer Klosterbrauerei, Irsee, Germany (2010) (2012)
84. Goose Island Brewing, Chicago, IL  (2014)
85. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2014)
88. Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern, Monroe, WI (2014)
90. Cantillon Brewery and Gueuze Museum, Belgium  (2012)
91. Dogfish Head Ale House, Rehoboth Beach, DE (2010)
92. Belgo Centraal, London, England (2010)
93. Bruxellensis Festival of Characterful Beers (defunct/closed)
      (Substitute: Big Beers, Belgians, and Barley Wines (Breck’, CO) (2015, 2016, 2017)
97. Clark’s Ale House, Syracuse, NY (2010)
100. Steamworks Brewing, Vancouver, Canada (2015)
103. Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery, Key West, FL (2007, 2016)
104. Rose & Crown Pub, Epcot Center, Orlando, FL (2006)
106. Brick Store Pub, Decatur, GA (2011)
108. The Ghost Bar at the Palms Hotel, Las Vegas, NV (2015)
110. The Gingerman, Austin, TX (2010)
113. beerbistro, Toronto, Canada (2016)
114. The Dubliner, Washington, DC (2010)
115. John Barleycorn, Chicago, IL (2014)
118. Top of the Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Chapel Hill, NC (2011)
121. Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, DC (2010)
122. 5 Seasons Brewing, Atlanta, GA (2011)
123. Tim Schafer’s at Lake Norman, Sherrills Ford, NC (closed)
               (Substitute) In de Vrede (Belgium) (2010, 2012)
124. Stumbling Monk, Seattle. WA (2011)
125. The Happy Gnome, St Paul, MN (2014)

Beer Mentor

Canada’s 150th! Beer #4! Picaroons Traditional Ales + Central City Brewing

Time just runs away when you are always out and about!  I need to hire an assistant now that I’m retired.  haha.  Today, I’m sampling beer #4 in the Collaboration Across the Nation! beer collection.  The collaboration in this instance is Central City with Picaroons Traditional Ales.

I’m working my way from East to West and this was a difficult choice for me.  Geographically, Quebec is further east than New Brunswick but the breweries I’ve been sampling have been geographically correct East to West.  Next in line was Picaroons!  They make traditional English-style ales (hence the name).  An interesting note about Picaroons–this is not their only 150th Collaboration.  They have brewed an historical ale using traditional methods … see the link here.  I need to get my hands on one of these!  🙂

Ok, to the beer … to re-recap, I will be using the 2015 BJCP Guidelines to score this beer based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

The Evaluation.  The beer is called RESTORED HOP(E). From the description: “New Brunswick was largely founded by French descendents and United Empire Loyalists which inspired the province’s motto “Spem reduxit”, meaning “hope is restored.”  For this reason, we have brewed the classic English style of an extra special bitter.”

Since the ABV is 5.6%, and looking at the description, this beer falls in the category 11C – Strong Bitter.

Aroma. A medium biscuity, bready malt aroma upfront followed closely by medium caramel notes.  Very low floral, resiny hop aroma.  Medium fruity esters (apple/pear) present as well.  All to style  (10/12 pts).

Appearance. A bright copper color with a light tan head — quite large with excellent retention.  Brilliant clarity. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Med-high hop bitterness with a medium malt flavor (bready, biscuity) in support.  Medium floral hop flavor comes through into a very dry finish.  Bitterness and floral notes linger into the aftertaste.  Low caramel flavors blend with light fruity esters to give a nice fermentation complexity.  (16/20 pts).

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium-high carbonation.  Slight carbonic bite.  No astringency. Low alcohol warmth.  Not creamy — crisp!  (4/5 pts).

Overall Impression. This is a fantastic example of the style!  Very drinkable, great aroma and flavor.  Wonderful balance for style — only mark would be that it is just a tad too carbonated.  Otherwise, great!  (8/10 pts).

That’s 43 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Excellent category.

Thanks, again, to both breweries for producing a wonderful Extra Special Bitter.

Beer Mentor

Canada’s 150th Beer #3! Garrison Brewing + Central City Brewers

In celebration of Canada Day, I’m sampling beer #3 in the Collaboration Across the Nation! beer collection.  The collaboration in this instance is Central City with Garrison Brewing.

This is a cool one for me … back in June of 2010, my daughter and I went to Halifax and I had a chance to visit this brewery.  It was a great place, right on the pier, the beers were excellent and I think, still worth a stop!  If you are in that area give it a visit!

Here’s my photo from 2010!  I think the place still looks the same.  However, they have built a new brewery.  Congrats to them!  Ok, onward to the beer … to recap, I will be using the 2015 BJCP Guidelines to score this beer based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

The Evaluation.  The beer is called “New” Scottish Ale. From the description: “In Latin, Nova Scotia literally means “New Scotland.”  To celebrate Canada’s Scottish roots, we have brewed up a lightly peated Scottish Ale.”  This is a tough one to categorize.  Since the ABV is 5.5%, it would fall in the category 14C – Scottish Export.  However, because the brewers mention “peat,” I’ve decided to judge it in category 32A – Classic Style Smoked Beer.  Basically, the smoke flavor should be supportive and supported by the Classic Style selected (in this instance, 14C).

Aroma.  Low smoky phenolic right up front but doesn’t overpower.  Light toasty, bready malt in support.  No esters.  No hop aroma.  As it warms, the smoke begins to dominate the biscuity malt character. (7/12 pts).

Appearance.  Pours to a bright copper color with a small off-white head.  Does not persist.  Bubbles continue from the bottom of this clear beer. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Big, smoky phenolic (peat) flavor at first.  Peat lingers well into the aftertaste.  Medium high hop bitterness balances but does not dominate.  Finish is quite dry.  Subtle pomme-fruit esters show up in the middle.  Light floral, spicy, earthy hop flavor as well.  Medium levels of malt (bready, grainy, toasty) are there but balance is to the peat/hops.  Should be the peat/hops in support instead.  Clean ale fermentation character. (13/20 pts).

Mouthfeel.  Medium body with medium carbonation.  Peat blends with carbonic bite to lend a slight astringency. Expected a little creaminess for style–not there. (4/5 pts).

Overall Impression.  This is a very drinkable beer, but the peat is distracting, especially in the aftertaste.  Recommend doing away with the peat altogether.  Maybe add some crystal/caramel malt and reduce the hop bitterness by 1/8.  That should swing it right into style! (7/10 pts).

That’s 34 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Very Good category.

Thanks, again, to both breweries for producing this nice, refreshing “New” Scottish Ale!  Cheers to them and to Canada on this special day!

Beer Mentor

Canada’s 150th #2! P.E.I Brewery with Central City Brewers

Across the Nation Collaboration!

This is the second post in this series … as mentioned in the previous post, Central City Brewers and Distillers has collaborated with twelve other breweries in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

Working my way from East to West, the next in the series is from Prince Edward Island.  The aptly named brewery is P.E.I Brewing Company.  Their brewing history reaches back to 1997 and continues strongly through today brewing award-winning beers.

As in the previous post, I will be using the 2015 BJCP Guidelines to score each beer based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

The Evaluation.  The beer is called “Biere d’ici Honey Ale.”   From the description: “Prince Edward Island may be small but it is also known as the birthplace of Confederation.  Brewed with local PEI honey and maritime grown hops, this brew is a lighter take on the bière de garde style.”

With this description, I will judge this beer under category 24 (Belgian Ale) with the sub-style being 24C … Bière de Garde.  I will add my notes for the categories from above and then score it based on the total points available.  My assumption with this “Honey Ale” is that the honey was used to add flavor and aid in the dry finish.

Aroma.  Medium-low bready malt character that fades away.  I detect some Pilsner-ish malt notes.  Very light honey accents, but not overpowering.  A low, floral hop nose in support, but very faint.  No esters perceived. (8/12 pts).

Appearance.  Pours to a light copper color with a small, off-white.  Does not persist.  Bubbles continue from the bottom of this brilliantly clear beer. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Grainy, bready malt character up front.  Again, pilsner malt seems prominent.  Light honey notes.  Medium hop bitterness competes with malt for balance.  Malt and hop bitterness both linger into the dry finish.  Aftertaste is more toward the hop bitterness–not to style.   Clean lager fermentation character. (13/20 pts).

Mouthfeel.  Medium body with high carbonation.  Low alcohol warmth. Very effervescent.  Not astringent.  Expected a little creaminess for style–not there. (4/5 pts).

Overall Impression.  This is a very good beer — quite drinkable!  The honey is a nice addition.  For the style, especially with an amber version, I would expect a little more malt character in both aroma and flavor.  Also, the hop bitterness is a little high for style — maybe reduce the bittering hops by 15 – 20 percent?  Otherwise, cheers!  (7/10 pts).

That’s 35 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Very Good category.  A big thanks again to both breweries for making this one! As noted above from the description, the “lighter take” on the style is probably why the malt flavor/aroma is a little more subdued.


Beer Mentor