Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vanuatu Tusker OP Lager - Vanuatu - 25-12-14

The low down: 
Tusker is the beer I compare all pacific lagers to, so I guess I will compare Tusker OP to it as well. Imagine someone took a sacred beverage, and upped the dextrose so the yeast burned hotter and pumped out an extra 2.3% alcohol, then basically made it half as good. This is certainly a case of more is less.

Vanuatu is a bona fide tropical paradise. The coral reefs are amazing, sunset is like being on another world and Tusker beer is everywhere like mana from heaven. You may even notice me wearing the Tusker shirt in the last image, I devoured it incessantly both times I visited.

OP is a shoddy imitator to the throne, but it's still better than most of the pacific lagers that end up in my fridge.

Packaging: 6/10
No awards here, though I have been to the bottling plant. (It's like most other bottling plants)
Refreshment: 6/10
The original would have been a 9, this is a not so close second.
Flavour 5/10
Feels like the boozahol ruins the grain bill.
Alcohol Content: 9/10
7% which I admit, is ridiculous for an adjunct.
Price: 8/10
400 Vatu in stores, or around $4 (Thanks Bill)
Total: 34/50

Yes the higher alcohol might be useful for a night getting crunk, but I'd rather just drink 2 regular Tuskers and deal with the toilet breaks.
For food, I remember sitting on a north facing beach eating fresh fruit (I mean tree cut fresh pineapple and mango) with a Tusker in the other hand, and it was glorious.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Vonu Pure Lager - Fiji - 14-11-14

The low down: 

So first a disclaimer, Coca Cola recently purchased this brewery for a cool 5 million. This is probably the best the small island nation has to offer, and anyone who has had a Fiji Bitter will know just how much worse they get.

Fiji receives 3000 mm of rain water per year and while much of it goes to producing the lucrative Fiji water, allegedly filtered through 450 years worth of mineral deposits, Vonu will need a fair share to keep up with the massive growth in markets that the Coca Cola deal opens up for them.

They call it "hand crafted" and it tastes like it is, and I can only imagine it would be even better on a sandy beach in the south pacific.

Packaging: 9/10
A really solid design, and I love the custom stubbie holder.
Refreshment: 6/10
Pretty good refreshment levels.
Flavour 7/10
A fairly mixed bag, but nice rather than revolting.
Alcohol Content: 5/10
4.6% very average for the region.
Price: 5/10
$8.00 at the local Argentinian joint.
Total: 31/50

Vonu Pure Lager apparently donate a lot of money to the conservation of the endangered Vonu turtle, which is indigenous to Fiji, Tahiti and the surrounds. So I can't in good conscience recommend the turtle soup. Thankfully, it is spectacularly matched to BBQ meats.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Carib Lager - Trinidad and Tobago - 17-9-14

The low down: 
I've barely hit 7 of the 28 nations and territories in the Caribbean, it's slow going because of their limited exports. Thank God for Top Hops New York. Unfortunately they were out of a couple I wanted, but they did have this gem.

I'll be visiting the Caribbean in 2016 and I'm hoping there are more beers like this. It's a really refreshing drop, no significant flavour to speak of, but in this case it's not a bad thing.

It's not very carbonated and drinks well from the once again clear bottle, but this was well refrigerated and I drank it at night, though it might suffer on a shelf.

Packaging: 7/10
Feels Caribbean, and doesn't come in red and green!
Refreshment: 8/10
It was barely 19 degrees in New York, and this still worked.
Flavour 6/10
Fruity, a little malty, but not amazing.
Alcohol Content: 7/10
5.2% High for a Caribbean lager.
Price: 8/10
$4.15. And this included the corkage at Top Hops.
Total: 36/50

Trinidad and Tobago invented the Calypso and the Limbo, which pretty much define the Caribbean for me. The cuisine is a combination of Indian, African and Creole. One of their specialties is a fried dough called Fried Bake. Can you see where this is going?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kalik - The Bahamas - 11-9-14

 The low down: 

The Bahamas is only proceeded by Aruba, Jamaica and Bermuda in the list of places The Beach Boys want to take you to. Then again, Kokomo is in Indiana, so they probably don't know crap.
For the record there is also a Kokomo in Mississippi as well, but no one cares about that.

The beer is OK, but has a distinct skunk smell that is brought on by its shelf storage and clear bottle. Considering the Bahamas are supposed to be the sunniest place on earth, someone should have thought of this.

It's macro produced by Heineken on the island, so with that consideration in place, it does pretty well, in that it is better than Heineken.

Packaging: 3/10
A clear glass bottle for a beer to be drunk in the sun....
Refreshment: 6/10
Skunk ruins it, but otherwise reasonably easy drinking.
Flavour 5/10
Almost no hop flavour, a little malt and that's it.
Alcohol Content: 5/10
5% About par for the course.
Price: 8/10
$1.85. It's probably more in a resort, but it will be better there too.
Total: 27/50

Atlanta is a pretty good analog for the Bahamas, except it has no sea breeze, no beach and a lot more craft breweries. Apparently conch fritters are a thing and hugely popular in the Bahamas. I would like to eat some, and I could do worse than pairing them with this beer.

Presidente - Dominican Republic - 10-9-14

The low down: 
In the Dominican Republic in 1496, Bartholomew, the kid brother of Christopher Columbus, established the first Spanish colony in the West Indies. This began 30 years of the decimation and subjugation of the native Taino people. I say 30 as opposed to 500 as they were all but eradicated by the 1530's.

With that depressing story out of the way let's talk Caribbean beer. It's not quite as heinous as the actions of the European settlers in the 15th and 16th centuries, but it's also not that great.

The primary flavour is sickly sweet malt, but there isn't a lot else to it. Another in a long line of beers that are forgettable but serviceable in the tropics.

Packaging: 3/10
What is with Caribbean beers and this colour set?
Refreshment: 5/10
On the Island of Hispaniola sure, in Atlanta, partly.
Flavour 2/10
Fake sweetness not optional.
Alcohol Content: 5/10
5% Good enough for government work.
Price: 7/10
$1.65 Well, at least it's cheap.
Total: 22/50

I drank this with preserved meats from the Pepper Palace, it's probably better suited to something even spicier. We visited the world of Coca Cola before I drank this and it still seemed sweet. Drink it with jalapeños, or habaneros.

Cerveza Tona - Nicaragua - 8-9-14

The low down: 
I have to admit, I know nothing about Nicaragua, except that there's a lot of coffee. Research indicates that the 2 largest lakes in Central America are located there, which makes sense because this is one watery beer.

There's also an area of Nicaragua called the Mosquito Coast which sounds entirely unappealing. Thankfully this beer does a pretty good job of making me unlikely to want to go to Nicaragua, which I keep wanting to spell "Nicuragua" and I'm not sure why.

Watery equatorial lager with flavours of corn and cardboard. Whoopee.

Packaging: 4/10
Looks like an impoverished Christmas.
Refreshment: 3/10
San Fran was wonderfully hot and this beer didn't help.
Flavour 2/10
As I said, it basically tastes rubbish.
Alcohol Content: 2/10
4.6%, low enough not to matter.
Price: 7/10
$2.00. Cheap, but not cheap enough for redemption.
Total: 18/50

So there you have it, the things I will drink for a country tick. If this wasn't so cheap I don't think anyone would drink it. With that said it costs the same as the average Nicaraguan earns in a day, so maybe its the Bollinger of Central America. Drink it with Bananas.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Blue Ice Beer - Hong Kong -20-7-14

The low down: 
Oh ho ho, have I got a beer for you! Yes I drank some true Hong Kong craft beer, I even attended a craft beer festival, but I felt I must expose you to true horror.

This is the most disgusting can of something resembling beer I've had yet. This stuff is basically buttes in a can.

I have absolutely nothing nice to say about it. The can is boring, it's weak, it tastes crap, it doesn't refresh and while it only costs 80 cents, that's not value, since you can get a San Miguel or a Weihenstephaner for about 30 cents more.

Packaging: 1/10
Refreshment: 1/10
Flavour 1/10
Alcohol Content: 1/10
5% but still nope.
Price: 2/10
$0.80. I still feel like this should be "nope"
Total: 6/50

This is literally the worst. It makes Pure Blonde taste like Dom Pérignon. See the look on my face in this picture? That is me staring into the abyss. If you are ever served this, commit Seppuku and die with your honor in tact. That makes me think sushi, but with LOTS of wasabi.

Macau Beer - Macau - 19-7-14

The low down: 
This place is loaded with money, I mean absolutely flush with cash. I can't imagine anyone drinks this in Macau, given that it costs around $2.50 and the minimum bet for most tables in the Venetian was over $150, it seems unlikely.

We spent a single day here and we saw people hemorrhaging money. I lost around 13 dollars in all, and I consider this a tragedy. some people were gambling thousands per hand.

I'd love to continue talking about Macau, and the whole Portuguese chicken we ate for dinner, but I have to get to the beer. It's abysmal, absolutely abysmal.

Packaging: 4/10
Points for effort, but it is quite plain.
Refreshment: 1/10
Despite the heat, this didn't really help, and it was incredibly hot.
Flavour 1/10
None, bupkis, zip, nada.
Alcohol Content: 2/10
4%. A crappy Euro-lager with a crappy kick.
Price: 6/10
$2.50 and allegedly cheaper in pints.
Total: 13/50

There is a craft beer bar in the bottom of the Venetian called McSorley's. Take my advice, go there and get a real beer on tap. While you are there, eat the Chicken Parma, it's one of the best in the world.

Svyturys Baltijos Märzen Tamsusis - Lithuania - 17-7-14

The low down: 
While in Hong Kong I drank Lithuanian beer. Apparently this isn't that strange and a lot of bars in Lan Kwai Fong area advertise it. More surprising was the fact that this was a Marzen style beer, which I wouldn't usually have matched to the climate.

It's a fairly good representation of the style, and has that sweet bread flavour that's kind of caramel, a staple for the beers of Baltic origins that I've tried so far on this adventure.

Lithuania is another "young country" created when the Soviets pulled out of Eastern Europe and Germany in the early 90's. The Brewery however has existed for 49 years, which actually in retrospect doesn't seem like that long in Europe.

Packaging: 8/10
Reminds me a lot of Baltika, the Russian staple.
Refreshment: 7/10
Being fair, almost anything was refreshing in the 33 degree heat and 80% humidity.
Flavour 8/10
Flavour this does have a proper malty Oktoberfest, and it's good.
Alcohol Content: 8/10
5.8% is quite respectable.
Price: 8/10
$10.00 is a little better than you would expect in a craft bar in Hong Kong.
Total: 39/50

A Bavarian brewing ordinance decreed in 1553 that beer may be brewed only between 29 September and 23 April, and this is why we have Oktoberfest. I would like to have Oktoberfest year round, and the food of choice is sausage. Sausage and pretzels.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hinano - Tahiti - 29/12/13

The low down: 
Tahiti, it's a magical place. I drank this back in December last year but for some reason forgot to publish it. The only reason I realised was that someone in Tahiti was offering me a beer and I wanted to link them to it. And now the extensive rewrite to accommodate this apology.

Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, so think of a place where there is a constant 27 degree day year round, with stunning coral reefs and rain-forests and you are part of the way there.

Hinano is brewed by the local Heineken installation, and sadly reflects it. A reasonable pacific lager for the hot days, but ultimately "more of the same."

Packaging: 6/10
While reasonable reminisce of Tahiti, there's nothing stand out about this.
Refreshment: 7/10
Fairly refreshing, light carbonation and cold temperature help.
Flavour 5/10
What little there is, is acceptable.
Alcohol Content: 5/10
5% just close enough to every other macro brewed pacific lager.
Price: 7/10
$6.00 which is in line with its rarity here.
Total: 30/50

Surprisingly scores higher than I felt it would, and since I inadvertently published this late, I got to include the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. quote above. As for a match, this lives with your left-over leg ham, and cherries.