Monday, September 18, 2017

WEEK 114---ENJOY Beer Festivals--DON'T GET SLAMMED

A little mixed feelings writing this post--while the post is a basic "don't drink yourself to the ground" kinda piece about all sorts of beerfest in and around Asia--the news just came in that the Only mini craft beer fest in KL has been shoot down by the authority due to "sensitivity concern".
To a large extent--in Asia it's not surprising that mere mentioning of the word "alcoholic beverages" would trigger images of drunken loud/rowdy crowd--and that would extend to imaginary images of a beerfest generally to people who can't differentiate what is binge drinking and what is tasting/savoring/enjoying.
说起啤酒节三个字,你会想到什么?大杯大口尽情喝?有免费酒喝的好日子?只怕喝不够, 不醉无归?
在亚洲,最为一般消费者知道的啤酒节大概就是源自慕尼黑的十月啤酒节,多得大厂啤酒公司促销策略,不管是不是跟德国或慕尼黑有任何关联,,亚洲很多城市十月都会有大大小小各式各样啤酒促销活动或啤酒节出现。
craft beer的世界,啤酒节的确是推动craft文化所需方式之一,理由很简单,与其等消费者自发自动到专卖吧或瓶子店发现什么是另一个崭新的啤酒世界,通过更多人可以接触到的啤酒节把craft文化散播出去未尝不是好方法。
目前来说,亚洲不同城市大大小小的craft啤酒节不少,从北京上海到东京首尔到台湾香港再到曼谷新加坡,每年都有不同形式不同名堂啤酒节在进行,虽然不能跟一些顶级欧美啤酒节相比,至少有起到推介craft作用。
Generally speaking most people in Asia would have heard of Oktoberfest--along with images of large beer mug filled with seemingly endless volume of beers---that's quite typically the perception of the general public when the word beerfest is mentioned---of course they won't think or know that there can be really huge different levels of beerfest--depending on the intention/objectives of the organizer.

In Asia--most of the beerfest is either organized/run by event organizer who aim to sell space/booth or importers/local breweries keen to promote their brands( be it MACRO or craft) to a larger audience--while everyone need to sell more for business sake--there can be a different pertaining to how a beerfest is organized/run--there are fest which aim to only sell and sell--there's also fest which aim to spread out the craft cultures....

While generally going to a beerfest is seen as a good day to get slammed--drink to the ground--it really does not have to go that direction, beerfest can be quite an enjoyable affair if one take it nice and slow regardless if you are going for the very first time or been there and always end up face down on the ground....
亚洲craft啤酒节来说,多的有上百不同品牌类别啤酒等着品尝,少的也有几十种,怎么在一天或半天时间内好好品味而不是走着进去歪着或抬着出来是有简单小窍门的。
here's a few simple tips that would help one to enjoy a beerfest better:-
1) DON'T ever go in EMPTY STOMACH
Quite some people thought it's really natural/ok to go into a beerfest and starts enjoying some food & beer at the same time--meaning no food consumed PRIOR going into a beerfest--though it seems innocuous --the reality is that the body system will definitely go under attack by alcohol influences while the food is waiting to get digested.
Unless you plan to make a mockery of the meaning of enjoying one self at a beerfest--you would not want to do this--ever.
1) 绝对不要空腹喝酒
啤酒,无论是多么低度易喝(36%)都是带酒精饮料,的确在啤酒节一边喝啤酒一边吃东西是享受,所以空腹去好像很合理,这个观念听起来没问题,实际上,空腹去啤酒节一边喝一边吃,再继续喝,你觉得是酒精会先发挥醉人影响,还是食物可以比酒精先一步消化起到"压肚子"作用?
答案是很明显的,空腹喝酒明摆着就是在找自己麻烦,不但不能好好享受不同风味啤酒乐趣,分分钟还会让自己难堪。
2) less is MORE
Forget about the photos/video/images you have seen about that event in Munich--beerfest does not have to be only about drinking in huge beer mug or drink yourself to death---while it is true that generally all beerfest in ASIA is selling beer in a rather big serving-it does not mean you have to finish the beer all by yourself--you can always share with friends--just drink say 25-150ml of a particular beer and move onto other beers since a beerfest would have atleast tens of hundreds of different beers to choose from--if you really like a particular beer you can go slow and finish it--if a particular beer taste awful/not your liking--you could try ask if your friends/ or new found stranger friends wanted to try and share it--otherwise just leave it/pour it....
The key is--beerfest can be like a larger scale tasting session--with different choices to pick--why not just drink/sip in small volume, that way you could try a lot more different styles/brands of beers and enjoy/savour each taste profile better.
2) 少即是多 (Less is More)
如果你去的啤酒节有几十种甚至上百不同类别风格品牌等待品尝,假设有8小时喝酒时间,是要大杯大口喝够本还是说要小杯小啜慢慢品味?
一般亚洲人酒量来说,喝上10330毫升小瓶装啤酒算"厉害"的了,以此推算,怎样可以从容的在啤酒节细味享受超过几十或更多款不同风味啤酒而不是勉强喝\拼命喝\喝到挂是重点。
抛开个人酒精承受力,体质不一样,当天身心状态等因素不说,最简单的喝酒方式是<积少成多>,意思是想试的每款啤酒都尽量只要一点,比如25100毫升之间,也不需要每杯喝完,个人很喜欢的可以慢慢喝完,感觉一般或不对味的可以看下身边朋友是不是想试,可以分享,再不然就放一旁或干脆倒掉,再去试其他的。
啤酒节可以是一个放慢来品尝不同风格啤酒的地方,就像在餐厅享受美食那样,狼吞虎咽会少了很多乐趣,细味才是重点。
3) Get "time out"--go for intervals
Going to a beerfest can be like playing a ball game--you do need to take a break in between drinking--drink some water/eat some food/ go for coffee if that's your thing--it is true everyone has got different level of alcohol tolerance--but it's always good to take a short interval--let the palate/body system freshen up a little before continuing.
3) 喝酒也有休息时间
像去运动打球那样,在啤酒节只是一直不停喝也不对,应该给身体机能一些调适时间,喝酒的同时也喝水,间中吃点东西,只要不是太重口味比如辣或麻辣到令味蕾失调的就好,喝喝停停,停停喝喝,聊聊天聊聊啤酒经,新旧朋友间交换下心得,啤酒节会变得有趣。
The craft culture/ craft beer movement in Asia is still in early developing stage--while various beerfest is happening more often in and around different cities in Asia--the majority drinkers are still very much influenced by the binge-drinking culture--that beerfest is about price factor/value for money/drink til you drop kinda perception--which of course can be avoided if more people starts to realize that just like there are awesome beer and really bad beer, a beerfest can also go that direction of making a different.
在亚洲,很多人觉得啤酒节就只是个很多酒喝的节目,基本都一样,啤酒节基本元素是“共聚一堂把酒言欢”,说白了就是喝喝酒说说话吃吃东西,这原理放在鼓励大家开怀畅饮(或者牛饮)的大厂啤酒节,或是更鼓励慢喝细味的craft啤酒节听起来好像没差别,因为理论上啤酒节只是个把喜欢喝啤酒或喜欢热闹人们聚在一起的节目。
实际上,在craft的世界,一个啤酒节的规模大小,是不是有什么明星艺人出现不是重点,真正重要的是啤酒阵容,有什么酿坊什么类别啤酒出现才是关注点。
亚洲啤酒节现阶段来说,在一般消费者比较关心价格,是不是可以喝到饱喝到卦,不是很了解craft文化情况下,说这样的话可能会让人觉得困惑,去啤酒节需要关注有什么啤酒喝?不过,如果你觉得疑惑,很好,至少现在你已知道不是所有啤酒节都一样的。
YES--it's completely unfair/incomparable to mention about the level of #MBCC #CBC has set for a beerfest to what Asia can envisage to achieve---it can be a sky high benchmark Asia beerfest can look up to and see what mini version can be done here in ASIA--in simple word--a day when you announce a beerfest which would only serve between 25-100ml per pour and people who paid for the beerfest ticket wold have to line up for 1 small keg of each beer and  won't question "why so little/why so expensive/why so stupid to have only 1 keg why can't be 10 keg of the same"?

That would be the ultimate challenges for beerfest in and around Asia --though i honestly don't think there would be many out there who would share that thought or agree with.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

WEEK 113---Beer really can be DELICIOUS

Let's talk about beer in the simplest form/terms possible.
What is beer? the simplest answer is alcoholic beverages brewed using 1.Water 2.Malt 3.Yeast 4.Hops
If you have heard of a law in Germany(purity law or Reinheitsgebot)  which insist that beer can only be brewed using those 4 ingredients and thought all along beer must ONLY be brewed that way--then you know perhaps only half the story of what beer can be.
啤酒基本是水,麦芽,啤酒花和酵母的融汇结合酿品。
这样的组合,听起来看起来都简单得很,能有什么样多样化的味道变化吗?
大家那么长久以来所喝到啤酒味道来说,确实没什么变化好说的,啤酒就只是那样,酒精冷饮一枚,跟美味一点都扯不上关系。
以上只是大众对啤酒的片面认知,啤酒当然不只是酒精冷饮一枚,而是可以变化多端,以各种不同风格类别出现的美味选择。
Craft Beer的出现彻底打破了水,麦芽,啤酒花和酵母只能酿出单调味道啤酒的错误看法,最简单说法是,除开大家都知道的不同水质问题外,麦芽,啤酒花和酵母其实有很多不同味道类别,个别不同组合会带来很多不同风味层次变化,再加上不同处理手法,比如Adjunct, 比如Blending, 比如Barrel Aging等等,让啤酒的玩味变得更浓更有趣。

Someone actually questioned "with only 4 ingredients--how beer can become complex or delicious even?"---can't blame this perception since majority "BEER" drinkers only know of 1 or 2 'taste' profile(for lack of proper vocab) ingrained by years of MACRO drinking/campaign effects.

Truth is--even with only 4 main ingredients--because of the hundreds of varieties of malt-yeast-hops, as well different quality of water--when the craft brewers turn on their creative minds--beer can become a totally whole new thing never imaginable by MACRO drinkers--and that's the single biggest reason why geeks go gaga over craft beer.

In the world of craft beer--brewers obviously don't give a shit about limiting oneself to brewing only with water-malt-yeast-hops since it's almost anything goes for some crazy ass brewers, here's a very basic/simplest look into what other things craft brewers do to increase the deliciousness/complexity of a given beer(and mead):-
ADJUNCT
if one were to check the definition of this word with any beer glossary--it's actually a Negative word describing low act of replacing malt-hops-yeast with cheaper alternatives/artificial flavoring agents with the intention of cutting cost--end up bringing down quality/flavours of beer.
BUT just like a coin with 2 sides--in craft beer ADJUNCT can be a good thing--a Positive thing when brewers starts adding at times ridiculous amount/types of REAL food/fruits/spices etc with 1 aim--to make that beer delicious--or crazy delicious.
In this commercial/profit first world--it's not uncommon for some food producers to find much cheaper/at times even harmful chemicals/artificial flavours to cut cost just to maximize profits--in the world of beer--the truth is ADJUNCT can become a good thing which enhances flavours and deliciousness of a beer--not downgrading or destroying it.
Adjunct(添加物)
根据Craft的定义,利用添加物酿酒原意是贬义词,意指不能用例如粟米或大米或人工香精之类的廉价代替品意图减低酿酒成本导致啤酒风味变低变质变次。
不过,转个念,这个原本的贬义词其实也能变成褒义词。

在德国,为保持啤酒的固定味道,有"纯酿法"的存在,列明啤酒只能以4种原料,即水,麦芽,啤酒花和酵母酿造,不能有任何其他食材或添加物,从另外一个角度看,这也可以是固步自封,Craft Beer 酿造手法中的Adjunt(添加食材如咖啡豆茶叶巧克力胡椒辣椒蔬果等等)就证明了正面的使用添加物是可以大大提高啤酒风味层次,而不是减低或破坏。

BARREL-AGING
It is common knowledge that certain food items needed time to give it another dimension(or more)--think cheese/vineger/kimchi /soy sauce/smoked beef/sausages and so on...

In the world of craft beer--there are lots of BA or barrel-aged version--in simple word--putting beer into barrels to let it rest/ferment/evolve--barrels can be from the hard liqour kind of whisky-bourbon-brandy-tequila to wine/port wine barrels--the latest is that mead barrels are in for some delicious beer soaking/resting too.

Of course not all BA beer would turned out way better/complex than the base beer--but at the very least--barrel aging is a way craft brewers like to try add complexity/layers of nuances to some already delicious base beer--the thoughts the efforts the intention that goes into a barrel is all there for drinkers to feel.
Barrel Aging(桶陈)
一般认知来说,桶陈就像是把酱油或泡菜放进缸熟成,又或是把蔬果食材腌制成另一个层次食物那种原理。
在啤酒的世界,桶陈的目标没变,也是为了让酿好的啤酒变得更有层次,更有不同风味,基本做法是把啤酒倒进使用过的不同烈酒木桶比如威士忌,波本,白兰地,伏特加酒桶等又或者是葡萄酒桶熟成,很多不同风格啤酒如Stouts, Porter, Saison, Lambic, 甚至是Ipa都会玩桶陈,最新情况是,有啤酒酿坊开始使用蜜酒(Mead)桶来熟成提味。
虽然不是所有经过桶陈处理的啤酒一定比没桶陈原版美味好喝,至少说明啤酒不是只有平铺直叙那么简单,啤酒也有多工序多心思的一面。

实际上,好些Craft酿坊玩起桶陈游戏是不惜工本,为了提升味道层次,很多时候不单只是桶陈,更多时候是加入食材蔬果浸泡,目的只有一个,让啤酒变得更美味。



BLENDING
Not everyone is a brewer--including some very sought after craft brew/names(think Bokkereyder-Casey-Tilquin and such)--there are some who do not brew their own beer yet they are not gypsy brewers--these guys are the Blenders--they buy wort from others and do their own things through "blending-adjunct-barrel aging"--whatever means that would make the brew the way they envisage/imagine or hope it to be.
Blending can be a fun thing even for us drinkers in a small way--by trying to find a nicely blended one through mixing different styles/variants of beers during a tasting/sharing session --the key is different styles/variants of beer though no one stops you from blending ipa A with ipa B or stouts A with stouts B if you so wishes.
Blending(混酒)
烹饪的概念就是如何把不同食材香料调味料融合好,比如酸辣汤强调酸味和辣味,比如咕噜肉就要是甜酸适中,啤酒的Blending基本概念大约如此,通过混合不同类别/年份啤酒寻找心目中想要的味道层次。
Craft Beer的世界,有Brewer(酿酒师),也有不酿酒只混酒的Blender(混酒师),当中包括一些炙手可热的比利时天然发酵果酸啤酒品牌比如Tilquin,比如Bokkereyder
Blender的出现让啤酒的风味变化多了可能性,除了通过混合不同类别风格啤酒,又或是相同类别不同年份啤酒之外,也利用桶陈+添加物方式让啤酒酝酿出不同层次风味。
啤迷或喝酒人有时候其实也可自己试试玩一下混酒,可以是不同类型啤酒混合,比如稍苦的黑啤加稍甜的黑啤,也可以是完全不同类别如黑啤混合酸啤酒或SAISON之类的,混对了会意料之外的很美味,没找对混合方案也没问题,下次再试,反正自由发挥是乐趣。

Monday, August 21, 2017

WEEK 112---BEER Drinking Sheep

The title of this week's column came from a Canton-pop song lyric quite sometime back, ending part of that song has got 1 line saying "people are so much like sheep".
It's quite true when put it in the context of beer drinking-where MACRO BEER been and still dominating consumers market-even their mind when BEER is always only BEER and nothing else(craft beer? what's that?).
有试过这种情况吗?跟朋友或亲人或同事聚会时,喝的只是大厂啤酒,没其他类别选择,对喜欢Craft的啤迷来说,当时虽然可能热闹欢聚,不过可以肯定的是,味蕾肯定难受得很。
一直以来,可以这样说,在所有人眼中,啤酒是没有任何门槛,没分优劣高低的轻松酒精饮料。
这是大众认知,啤酒就是啤酒,没什么稀奇,没什么大学问,啤酒就是一班人一起喝一起嗨随意怎么喝都可以的普通酒精饮料。
对绝对大多数人来说,喝啤酒需要有所讲究这件事是很陌生的概念,甚至是听起来就近乎可笑的事。
It's actually kinda laughable but also scary to think that most people immediately relate beer to CARLXXXX /HEIXXXXX/CORXXX and so on as beer- just like we automatically refer COLxxxx as toothpaste instead of saying toothpaste.
There's no denying how successful/pitiful beer consumption market has been/still are after all these years of domination by the MACRO giants via systematic "brain washing" with various seemingly trendy/life is good/close to the heart of working class/friendships/party hard theme(and so on)ad campaigns that the immediate reaction of most people when ask about beer would be :-
1) BEER is easy - no choices needed
2) BEER is just BEER- nothing to fuss
3) BEER is cheap- no flavours no complexity at all
4) BEER is to be down quick- to get high/pissed/shit faced with
大厂啤酒的广告策略效应让绝对大多数人觉得喝什么啤酒,味道层次之类的并不重要,在哪里跟什么人喝,场地热不热闹,是不是跟随风潮比较重要。
对热爱Craft Beer啤迷来说,啤酒当然不是那样单调,一直以来情况是,整个啤酒消费市场只有绝对少数啤迷知道什么是啤酒美味层次,不同啤酒之间水准可以有天与地差别,如何有效让一般人知道啤酒实际上有很大质素区别才能起到最起码的观念改变,这件事不是三言两语能说清楚,更需要一定时间尝味了解才能见效。
"人群是多么像羊群"是林夕帮陈奕迅写的词,放在啤酒消费市场很贴切很形象,因为绝对多数人都跟在大厂啤酒行销策略后面走,说是盲目追随并不为过,大家都植入式接受大厂啤酒广告设定的说词\口味\方向,觉得啤酒一定就要冷飕飕,见泡沫,趁冷快喝,从来不去想啤酒可以有怎么样多元化的美味变化,习惯了当羊群,就一直喝着羊群饮料而不自知。

We all know beer business can be a hugely profitable one-and we also know the MACRO BEER giants company will keep going with their multi millions advertising campaign-marketing strategy to conquer all corners and every beer drinkers mind possible.
For people who have tasted and understand what craft beer/mead is all about, we do know that there's so much more choices- delicious choices/varieties out there-question is--how do you break that chain firmly locked in most consumers mind about BEER? How can the craft community effectively spread out that 1 single most important message of " beer is NOT only BEER but has got varieties of styles and choices"?
或许,在一般人眼中,或许会觉得Craft啤迷是奇怪- 装腔作势-鸡蛋挑骨头的一群,不就是啤酒,有什么那么好挑剔讲究的? 其实,说穿了,啤迷只是认识到更合适自己口味,致力寻找美味层次的一群,或许啤迷也还只是一群羊,不过,可以肯定的是,这是一群懂得自己想喝什么的羊。
7季最新一集<王位游戏-Game of Thrones>中有一句对白是这样说的 "就算羊群鼓噪 狮子绝不动摇",放在喝啤酒这件事来看,还蛮有趣的,当消费市场上绝对大多数"爱喝啤酒人"都是羊群,当财雄势大的大厂啤酒公司不断鼓吹啤酒只是轻松随意或时尚嗨爆酒精饮料时,市场少数群体的Craft Beer啤迷们虽然不是剧中比喻的狮子,不过可以肯定的是不会被动摇的一群,原因很简单,一旦了解并爱上Craft的变化多端口味选择,就再也回不去羊群中继续盲目追随单调无趣的大厂啤酒。
你还身在羊群中?是时候走出来看看羊群之外的选择了。
This blog is half jokingly saying(because to say seriously can be bit boring or too preachy?) majority of the BEER DRINKING people are sheep who do not realize they were/ been/ still are following the advertising messages/strategy of MACRO Giants--not knowing what other choices available in the world of beer--or worse- by simply dismissing craft drinking crowd/ geeks as a bunch of pretentious/fussy assholes.
In Episode 5 of season 6 of Game of Thrones--Jaime and Cersei repeated that sentence "a Lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of the sheep"--perhaps the craft drinking crowd would likely still be sheep instead of Lions--but 1 thing is for sure- this would be a group of sheep who know there's choices out there in the beer world and know how to choose their beers.
IF all these while you been led to believe that there's only BEER instead of beer out there in the beer world--it's time to stop being a blinded sheep--come out to the world of craft beer/mead--and be a some what picky sheep if you will.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

WEEK 111---ASIA need MORE of these

Let's face it--most of us geeks who lives in ASIA and love craft--be it craft beer or mead are basically quite envy of those who have access to awesome brews in US/Europe. It's not to say ASIA don't get awesome brews(either by "geeky" importer/s or self-reliance) from time to time--but generally speaking--the craft market is still very much in developing stage--the numbers of awesome brews/ brands/variants appearing through proper distribution channels is still small. 
Here's a few variants which ASIA has not seen much until very recently or only appearing like once in a blue moon(and we bloody need a lot more of these):-

MEAD
For people who yet to try any mead, or somehow skeptical about it, here's the basic idea:-
to put it in the most simple terms--it's fermented honey.
to put it real terms--it's fermented honey which can be mixed with all kinds of fruits/food items/spices--or go through barrel aging--resulting in some very complex layers/nuances in taste profile.
Another basic idea about mead---just like craft beer--there are lighter/easier to drink session mead--and then there are heavier/thicker mead.
Mead
蜜酒 - 简单说就是以蜜糖发酵的酒,复杂点说是可加入各种食材香料玩出很多味道变化的美酒。
蜜酒有低度易喝版,也有高酒精桶陈版本,最基本要点,蜜酒不是只有甜那么单调,很大程度上,跟craftbeer一样,可以有各种意料之外味道呈现,更有复杂层次享受。
亚洲来说,最先出现小量蜜酒供应的城市是曼谷,近一两年其他亚洲城市比如台湾,香港,新加坡和吉隆坡也开始有人引进一些蜜酒品牌,不过,无论是品牌数量或者是供货量都还只是在处于婴孩学爬地程度,还谈不上学走路阶段。
如果问为什么要喝蜜酒,或者蜜酒有什么好喝,答案很简单,因为的确很好喝!

至于说该怎么喝或选择好喝的,答案也很简单,如果你喝到的是只有蜜糖泡水那种单调甜味,那基本你还没喝到真正有水准有层次的蜜酒,因为就算只用蜜糖加水加酵母酿的最普通版本传统蜜酒(traditional mead),高手版本会有不同层次,绝对不会只是感觉像蜜糖水。(如果喝起来只像是蜜糖水,那不如在家自己泡一杯冻蜜糖水就好,干嘛买蜜酒?)
IN ASIA--craft level mead first appeared in Bangkok when Mikkeller Bar brought in some Scandinavian mead and subsequently the first ever mead tap takeover/mead fine dining pairing with Superstition happened the last couple of years. After which Singapore, recently Hong Kong, Taipei started to see a little bit of mead appearing-- in terms of variants as in different meaderies/brands--mead in ASIA is still like a baby learning how to crawl--there's some way to go still before the first walk.

It's not surprising that many people would think mead as " isn't it just honey and only sweet?"--so why bother drinking one?
the answer is simple--because it can be fxxking tasty, a well made mead is really delicious with many variants in taste profile and quite easy to drink--so why not?

IF you need the most simple guideline as to how to differentiate a really well made mead(be it a session one or heavier one) from a mediocre one--the answer is also very simple:-
*IF a mead ONLY taste like a glass of ice honey water--no layers/no nuances/no complexity/no dimensions---then it's certainly not a good one---This is NOT how a craft mead should taste like--when you tasted a really nice one--with varieties of taste profile to choose from --you will know, like right away how delicious mead can be.
LAMBIC
#Sour beers is not for everyone--and certainly not anyone#
That statement might seems a little rash though it's true that ASIA do not see that much sour beers, much less drinkers who seek out for sours.(and we are not even talking about Lambic since it's a reality ASIA only gets so little direct supply from the Belgium Masters.)
The better selling craft styles in ASIA would be pilsner/pale ale/ipa & stouts/porter---sour beer do get sampled here and there in and around different cities of ASIA but it's still among a very small group of drinkers comparatively.
Lambic
地利,加上天时,天然发酵果酸啤酒一直是比利时酿酒师的特长,对爱喝酸的啤迷来说,虽然近年一些美国酿坊有不错酸啤出现,欧洲其他城市也有人在做,比利时酸啤毫无疑问的仍是一代宗师级别,至今无人能及。
在亚洲,来自比利时酿坊直接供应的天然发酵果酸啤酒很少,这是可以理解现象,Lambic产量原本就供不应求,作为craft仍起步中市场,酸啤在亚洲市场其实很小,绝对大多数喝过啤酒人们完全想像不到啤酒可以是酸味,就算亚洲喝craft圈子,可接受或进而喜欢酸啤的喝酒人还只是少数,对不少已经喝craft一段时间的饮客来说,酸啤仍是一道试题,甚至是一道让人却步的心理障碍。

目前长期有比利时不同酸啤酿坊直接供应的亚洲城市都在日本,台湾有少量供应,其他城市如香港,曼谷,新加坡也不定期有少量出现,如果你长期住在吉隆坡,那基本只能自求多福
Generally speaking--the ASIA market don't see much varieties of sour beer supply(ok-perhaps we can take Japan out of the equation since they bloody get Zwanze Day supply plus quite some other Belgium/US/Europe sours)--with less supply/less visibility--no surprise why it's considered one of the lesser appreciated craft variants here in ASIA.
In a way, to many drinkers who started and quite "stuck" with IPAs and/or Stouts/Porter, sours--especially Lambic is being seen as some kind of a test of nerves, even becoming some form of psychology barrier :)
If you love sours and you lives in ASIA--let's hope you are living in JAPAN, though there's a little supply here and there around ASIA such as Taipei- Seoul- HK-SG-BKK, but if you are stuck in KL most of the time--then the only way is self-reliance because there's hardly any nice sour beers here.
TABLE BEER
Personally-- i would half jokingly describe table beer as some sort of " taste like water--nothing beer".
This is kinda in reference to people who are used to heavier taste profile of hop bomb ipas or heavy stouts.
Table beer is generally below 4-5% in ABV--very light body--so easy drinking that some would say it "taste like water".
Table Beer,字面上意思很清楚,可以上餐桌,适合一家大小的啤酒。这算是历史说法,因为酒精度很低,可以解渴佐餐,就算午餐时间也不怕。
另一个关于Table Beer说法是有酿酒师酿完一轮后,觉得刚用过的麦芽酵母啤酒花可以再循环一次酿造酒体酒精度都很浅的解渴易喝啤酒,的确,这是基本很淡,很浅味啤酒,有点像是酿酒师为了"废物利用"酿来自己喝的解渴易喝酒水。
虽那样说,虽然基本只有不超过4-5%酒精度,虽然听起来不太吸引,实际上,高水准Table Beer 绝对是有层次的"淡如水"好喝类别。
某些程度来说,重口味啤酒,或是某种味道突出啤酒很容易辨别,也比较容易决定喜好,对只喜欢重口味Ipastout饮客来说Table Beer会感觉太平凡,没什么特点。实际上,这是讲究内敛,考验酿酒师功力的"简单"酒款,有点像煮菜那样,越是简单菜色,越不容易做得出色,与此同时,也考验饮客味蕾鉴赏力。

亚洲目前很少这类型啤酒供应,除了市场关注率能见度不高,更大原因是大家都比较注重味道较突出类别,既然"淡如水"不如直接喝水好了?
BUT is it really so "tasteless"?
I for one definitely don't think so.
Though it's low abv-light body-easy to drink- table beer certainly can be tasty with nuances--a table beer can be like very simple food which can be hard to master--in a way--a table beer is not only testing the skill of brewers but also testing the appreciation level/palate of drinkers.
IN ASIA--sadly table beer is very much quite invisible--you don't see much supply at all--and hardly hear of people talking or wanting to seek out for a table beer.
IF anyone think table beer is simply a "watered down" version of pale ale or pilsner--go get yourself a really nice one, see if you still think it's better to just drink water than a table beer.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

WEEK 110----IPA Bla Bla Bla

Mention the word IPA to those still very new to craft beer--most often that not many would perhaps give you that "BITTER" look.
IPA--short for India Pale Ale--is probably one of the best known as well as  best selling craft variants around the world of craft including here in different cities of Asia.
IPA INDIA PALE ALE简称,但凡喝过CRAFT没有不知道的。
对新朋友来说,IPA可以是蜜糖,也可以是毒药,有人一喝即刻感受到啤酒花强大震撼,觉得很特别,跟之前喝过任何啤酒完全不一样,也有人浅尝过后就逃回去喝惯的淡然无味大厂啤酒怀抱。
个人对味感受不一样,会有不同反应很正常,不过,同样是IPA,却又有很多不同层次分别,到底什么才算是好喝的IPA?把这个问题抛出去问喝过的人,可以肯定不会有一致答案,对一些人来说,IPA就只是以苦涩为主的啤酒类别,“苦味程度高低”几乎已经成为一些人对IPA的认知。
For newbies--IPA is something of a "must try" variants when entering the door of craft--obviously it's very different from the usual MACRO BEER--so much so that some would try a few sip and "ran away"--preferring something much lighter or simply run back to the comfort of boring old MACRO.

Here in ASIA--IPA is no doubt the most commonly available craft variants whenever you walk into a craft beer bar or bottle shop wherever you might be around craft cities in ASIA--the only issue drinking IPA in ASIA is Freshness--how fresh an IPA do we get?
在亚洲,除非住的城市有本土酿坊,可以喝到新鲜酿造IPA,很多亚洲朋友对IPA的认识大多是通过市场供应进口欧美酿品,因为货源类别局限,很多时候会觉得IPA就是苦而已,或甚至有越苦越厉害,越代表酿酒师功力高深的误解。
这么说,IPA就真的只有苦涩?强调苦味?没什么其他?
实际上当然不只是一个苦字而已,IPA是最能展现不同啤酒花使用如何融和不同麦芽/酵母展现不同程度的酿品苦涩,甘甜,果香等等不同变化的啤酒,
You see--unless one lives in a city where there's local breweries or brew pub which can brew some decent/good IPAs--most of the time craft drinkers living in ASIA need to rely on importers to bring in IPAs from US/Europe/Australia/New Zealand---and that's where the freshness issue starts...

We all know that craft is after all still a business--and when it's a business--business sense/calculation must come into play--capital efficiency is needed--and that would mean majority if not all of the imported IPAs we can source from the market would all be coming into ASIA via shipping--not air plane.
平心而论,在亚洲,要真正领会IPA的美妙是一件不太容易的事,IPA是需要尝鲜的类别,越新鲜喝越好,除非所在城市有高水准本土酿坊,要说想喝进口IPA,特别是来自美国欧洲一些高手酿坊作品的话,会是很有难度的事。因为距离,因为经济效益的现实问题,在亚洲要喝到很新鲜的上佳进口IPA可以很难。一般情况下,进口商轻易不会让啤酒坐飞机进来,绝大多数都是让啤酒装上货柜坐船来,先不说啤酒是不是一定有装进冷冻货柜,只是坐船这件事意味着至少需要好几个星期超过一个月,就是说,啤酒从欧美酿坊装箱到出现亚洲酒吧,至少需要一到两个月时间,从啤酒花新鲜度来说,已经减退,在美国,有些啤迷是不喝超过两个星期鲜度的,相比之下,在亚洲,除非进口商很爱或因为某个啤酒庆典特意把啤酒飞进来,要喝到最新鲜可口欧美IPA真的有难度。
In ASIA--basically no one fly in fresh IPAs (geeks own beer mail not counted) just to distribute--it only happens when there's special occasions and only very very few importers who's passionate enough( or wanted to drink fresh him or herself) want to do that.

Yes, we would like to think that craft business is at times a little different from conventional bar/beer business when words such as  "taste" "passion" 'appreciation" might come in play BUT the reality is--Flying in Fresh Ipas DO NOT make much economic/capital efficiency sense when majority of drinkers don't really know what is craft beer--or say there's quite a large group of drinkers feeling quite happy to drink a 3 to 6 months old IPA or even up to 1 year old IPA(or American pale ale or any hop based variants) when some who lives nearby a US brewery or tap house don't drink any IPAs or hop forward beers that's more than 2-3 week's old.
如果你住的城市跟我一样没有本土酿坊或酿吧,喝不到新鲜酿造IPA,只能靠进口欧美澳纽酿坊啤酒的话,请留意:-
1)赏味期限,或者看一下瓶子/罐子酿造/装瓶日期。
2)要是在瓶子店买,要注意是不是有阳光直接照射/暴晒,有的话,免费也别喝。
3)无论是在酒吧喝上了啤酒泵版本还是瓶子/罐装,如果喝到类似过期奶油/芝士/湿纸皮/皮革或感觉“漏风”老化麦芽甚至发酸之类的风味,那就是可能已感染污垢或严重老化或坏掉的IPA,倒掉吧。(是有酿酒师特意酿带酸味版本,不过一般IPA是不可能有酸味的)
4)如果有人跟你说,喝IPA是越苦越爽,那只是个人喜好,不代表正确观点,虽然IPA有依照“苦味指数”(IBU)分为IPADOUBLE IPATRIPLE IPA三大类,另外,喜欢烤香麦芽的还有黑色版本BLACK IPA可选择,不过,无论哪一类,真正酿得好的印度淡啤并不只是强调啤酒花苦味攻击,而是讲究酿品的均衡度/适饮度。
5)假如你是之前喝过一次IPA之后就“逃之夭夭”的新朋友,或许应该再试试其他变奏版本,比如适合新人喝的低度SESSION IPA,又或者是近期开始大热的类果汁混浊NEIPANEW ENGLAND IPA),这会是让人对IPA改观的不同类型/分支。
6IPA喝多了感觉没什么不同?可能情况是,喝来喝去只是那几个市场现有品牌酿品所以会那样觉得,试试自己设法找些亚洲没供应的欧美酿品,特别是一些美国盛名酿坊的IPA,有机会较新鲜喝的话,就能体会什么是层次差别,什么是上佳IPA该有水准。
So, if you are very new to craft beer, and if you have tasted 1 or a few IPAs--and you have this question :-
"IPA is only about BITTER?or the more BITTER the better?"
OR
"what is a nice IPA / how to choose a nice one?"
that's quite fair questions to ask though it depends on few scenarios such as :-
1) how fresh is that pint or bottle or can of IPA you drank?
if it's a bottle or can--you can always check for best before date- bottling or canning date--if it's from a tap room then it's a bit more complicated as you won't know for sure the date or how the keg was handled or even how clean the pipes are....

2) if your IPA is from a bottle shop--look carefully if some of the bottles/can being displayed are under direct sunlight or very strong white lights. IF SO--DON'T bother even if it's FREE.

3) regardless if you are drinking from a bar or bottle shop--there's some very clear signals that your beer would have already died/gone bad if you smell anything unpleasant elements such as onions/corns/buttery and so on(also look for the meaning of the term Diacetyl)--or worse if your IPA tasting sour :)
4) If anyone--especially someone you think is a more senior drinker than you telling you that IPA IS ALL ABOUT BITTERNESS--the BITTER it is THE BEST it is---that is simply his or her own preference and surely NOT the truth about IPA. There's something to measure bitterness in a beer named IBU--and there's also the variants of IPA--Double IPA- Triple IPA---as well if you like a roasted malt and dark looking IPA--you have the choice of a Black IPA--so it's really not only about bitterness--it's much more than that.

5) If you are someone who had a bad encounter with an IPA the last time you had 1 and ran away from craft---you should give it another try--there's this thing called SESSION IPA which is lower in intensity be it hops or abv--or you could try out some of those fruit juice like NEIPAs which is quite the rave now--those are IPA variants which will make one change perception about IPA being only BITTER.
6) You have had some IPAs--or even been drinking IPAs for few years now and though "ipa is only ipa--nothing special"--well you could be right( if you have tried most of the awesome ones) or you could be very wrong especially if you have only been drinking what's available in ASIA--try to bring in some beer mail with IPAs you will never get from your regular bar or bottle shop--try some new names/variants--and let's see if you still think the same?