Wednesday, January 5, 2022

2021 Most Memorable Beer List-----by Neil (Tokyo)

2021 has come & gone in a (covid disturbing) flash--pandemic or otherwise---geeks still seek out for nice taste in a beer or two--as usual this blog would always do a most memorable year list  as conclusion to a year of beer sampling---to kick start this time around is my "old beer buddy" from Tokyo---Neil been writing about beer scene in & beyond Tokyo for many years on his blog

HERE in his own words --Neil's thoughts about 2021 :- ( with Chinese transcript by me)

As 2021 was another year when international travel wasn't really happening, my list for the year is all Japanese stuff. Sure, we get alot of imports here and I enjoy them from time to time. However I am a big believer in the drink local concept, so naturally when I'm not travelling outside of Japan I'm going to be drinking a lot of Japanese stuff. The pandemic hit Japan, but not as hard as many places, and we were able to travel domestically at some times last year. I can't say that all of these beers have been sampled at the source, but maybe half of them have and I've had a lot of fun drinking them. I've split this into a few themes where a few beers get mentioned side by side if I think they make sense to be written about together


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

WEEK 196---Beer Talk Easy 18


craft beer can be confusing/complicated to some newbies but if one were to spend some time & efforts then it can be quite simple, here's some observations:-
1) beer is NOT what most consumers think what it seems to be --that's a quite laughable stereotype--of course it's not true.

2) craft beer is the TRUE world of beer---but NOT all which label itself as craft beer is of high/higher quality--there are bad ones too---how to pick out the good ones from the bad ones/below average ones require some work--that's part of the fun of craft drinking.
2)真正美味啤酒世界是craft beer,但不是所有冠上craft beer称号的就一定是好酒,如何逐步提升眼界味蕾鉴赏力择优汰劣是啤迷功课也是乐趣之一。

3) BEER is NOT only about MACRO LAGER---varieties of beer styles/choices is what beer can be and should be.

4) One can find sour/sweet/bitter/spicy/umami in a beer--in fact much more than that.
5) Beer is not about gulping down ice-cold one--in fact the proper way is to let a beer warm up after pouring to enble flavours opening up for better tasting experience.

6) Finding out taste profile possibilities in a beer via brewing techniques/adding adjuncts/soak in used barrels is the primary motive of beer geeks.

7) In the big wide world of craft beer there will always be more than 1 beer which is bound to be your kind of beer--if you have yet to meet--you sure WILL.

8) Don't ever say 'craft beer is nothing" after 1 or 2 try---always know this--the word of craft beer is much bigger/wider than imagined.
8)绝对不要因为第一次尝试但喝到不对味啤酒就断定craft beer不过尔尔。要记住,啤酒世界远比个人想象中更辽阔更有趣更美味。

9) Please understand that in the world of craft beer tasting--there is such a thing as palate appreciation level---meaning at times if you think a beer is not good or even bad---it could well be a case of not the beer--but drinker's palate is not up there yet to truly appreciate what that beer really is.

10) New to craft beer? can always start exploring like food--go with familair taste profile first--then slowly expand to more unfamiliar territory.

11) Part of the fun of craft beer tasting is exploring different beer styles/taste profile--being open minded to go outside of comfort zone is necessary & a plus.

12) The reason/s why people drink beer can be same or very different---but " no drunk no home" like what was depicted in a movie scene is just a movie scene---it has nothing to do with craft beer tatsing.

13) Need to repeat this again and again---NEVER drink on empty stomach--even when drinking what majority people think "just 'easy/harmless" beer'.

14) If you are new to the world of craft beer--then beer is not only about 5-6% abv---there are a lot of beers with much higher abv-->10% closer or even exceeding 20% is nothing new.
14)在craft beer世界,不同类型风格啤酒并不只有5-6度或以下酒精,而是有很多可以随时超过10度或20度的选择。

15) Always use a proper glass--drinking directly from can or bottle is more of a movie scene or advertisement pose---unless if it's specifically stated to drink from can ( Alchemist-Heady Topper and such)---always use a glass.
15)喝啤酒需要合适杯子(绝对不是冰冻结霜那种),拿着啤酒瓶直接怼嘴喝只是拍电影做样子(除非像Heady Topper那样鼓励直接从罐子喝),基本酒入杯才是正道。

16) BEST beer in the world---is there such a thing? some believe yes some not so sure--anyway this is a tricky question since no one can conclusively say so with absolute certainty.( of course not even RB or untp)

17) It's very likely when a beer is being touted as the best beer that it actually is a nice beer or an awesome one---end of the day it's all other's opinions---finding what's more suited to one's own taste is probably more important.

18) Beer is about actual drinking and tasting--only then one can have an idea of how beer A or beer B taste like--however also always remember that palate appreciattion level has an importnt role to play---because if someone can't even differentiate good from bad--then even if given the best beer in the world---he/she would not know what is what.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

WEEK 195---6 year's Milestone Tasting---2 session--3 articles-all in 1

This is a combination of 3 parts newspaper articles all in one blog post since it's essentially 1 tasting session split into  2 weekends---also it's more of a personal-kltastinggroup's milestone memory--so will keep it short.

Basically the 6 years milestone session is about how the 5 of us beer geeks living in craft desert KL came together from total strangers into a beer tasting group since 6 years+ ago--from loosely sharing beers each would have---to gradually sourcing from overseas---and this recent 6 year's milestone session was a sort of high point for the group with some really nice bottles gathered through everyone's efforts.

here's article 1

it was a session everyone been long looking forward to since the covid situation in KL meant that we were all unable to meet since early this year with bottles piling up for share--hence the scene on that day where guys brought way more bottles  needed/possible to drink without wasting beers due to palate fatigue or drunkeness--the varieties on show was quite awesome--though it's essentially stouts focus but there were also nice saison/lambic/sours/fresh ipas in between.



here's a few highlights from the session:-

1)Weldwerks Starry Noche(2021)
a rather fresh one--full of hazelnuts/gula melaka/dark chocolate/coconut/bourbon barrel traces--if heavy can at times be a negative--it's totally positive goodness on this one.
近年最被啤迷追捧的美国高手酿坊(之一),拿手好戏是甜点式黑啤(pastry stout),这是最受推崇的一款,从入杯那刻到开喝第一口,如果说重口味有时候是贬义词的话,这款无论风味气息酒体厚度口感都将重口味一词变成绝对赞美,满满的榛果,马六甲椰糖,黑巧克力,椰香,波本酒桶影响全都融汇一体,浓郁的香气口感可以用侵袭来形容,但这么美味层次的味蕾经历让人一点都不介意美味突袭再三。
2) Toppling Goliath KBBS (2018)
A big name stouts--it's not the newwave pastry--more of a traditional dark brew but with it's own characteristics---in short it's almost one where best of both styles were blended into one--undoubtedly a big big stouts.

3) Side Project Anabasis (B5)
one sip and you would want to sit straighter and get serious with it---nothing of those sweet thin barley wine often associated with the style--it's big and bold--leather/cigar/bourbon/dark fruits--nice.

4) Horus Aged Ales
there were a few Horus stouts on site that day--first time KL has seen---cracked 3 namely
Double Dose2 Coconut Crown--Planifonia Pur
all good ones---but with 2 big big stouts in between--the Horus ones somehow came up short.

5) Bokke Abrikoos Gewurztraminer(2019)
finally got the chance to share a bottle from last Xmas' surprised pack from Bokke---was tasting a litlle harsh/raw upon pouring---got much better after really warming up with apricot and barrels goodness.

6) Monkish Ipas
it's really hard to get very fresh ipas here in KL--even harder for top notch US ones---guys arranged for a pack of fresh Monkish( with a few Green Cheek & Eletric brewing mix) for the session--a much needed mix of styles which made the session even better.
类果汁印度淡陴是近几年的市场大潮流,因为几乎反转了IPA就是苦哈哈代名词的传统观念,更强调水果甜美鲜香风味的New England IPA(也称Hazy IPA)某种程度上喝起来更平易近人,但同时也有过腻的缺点。
这次分享会有很多黑啤大酒,所以特意订了这批以Monkish酿坊近期新鲜作品为主的类果汁印度淡陴,此外也有另两家,Electric BrewingGreenCheek Brewing作品,新鲜高质啤酒花酿品在黑啤大酒之间隔着来喝,绝对是乐事。

Article 2
due to limited space--the session's worth mentioning bottles were split into 3 articles--here's no.2:-
1) Hill Farmstead BA Dorothy ( B4)
One sip and felt instantly how balance and tasty this one was--makes you automatically want to save whatever is left in the glass--not wanting to drink in big gulp--probably one of the most balance/tasty saison i have had by far.

2) Side Porject Coeur de Cuvee (B6)
another highlights from the session--was a total pleasant surprise with how nicely the blend of peachy and oaky flavours came together--well balance--smooth easy --really nice.

3) Garagiste Double Barrel MEH
first Garagiste for me--did not expect anything really but with 2 other big names mead in the mix--this one stand out with thick nice berry & honey blend.

4) Toppling Goliath Vanilla Bean Assasin (2019)
it's very vanilla dominant dark brew---with dark sugar/chocolate/roasted malt/bourbon in between--smooth drinking for a big stouts.

5) Cigar City Apple Brandy BA Hunapus
one which is of nostalgic meaning to the group since the base beer Hunapus was one stout which captured our attention during early days of sharing--cinnamon was very evident--with roasted coconut/dark chocolate & hints of spiciness coming though after warmer.

6) Homes collab brew
there were 2 here--one with Horus--another with Weldwerks--both big names dark brew masters.Same base beer with different treatment in terms of barrels choices as well adjuncts added--in simple words--the Hawk was like liquid choco-milk--while Noche was more like a thin body banana-choco.
两款分别和美国黑啤新贵Weldwerks以及Horus合酿的甜点黑啤(pastry stouts),两款都是同样的基酒,分别在于之后的桶陈波本/威士忌旧木桶选择以及添加食材选择的区别,简单来说Hawk喝起来像液体牛奶巧克力,Noche则是薄身香蕉巧克力。

Article 3
this is basically a mix of bottles worth mentioning from the 2 sessions:-



1) Bottle Logic Hypermash Hydra
The combo of bourbon-coconut-coffee-cinnamon is almost a formula which can't go wrong for a stout--tasting very coconut & coffee dominant with some cinnamon and dark sugar coming through--hints of alcohol but faded quickly so no big minus.

加州高手酿坊备受受关注的大黑啤作品,以波本酒桶为陈放基础,加入椰子咖啡以及肉桂,是非常美国派黑啤手法,某个程度上可说是美味保证的食材添加提味组合 ,整体风味呈现体现了个中高手的实力,层次韵味很到位,丰沛椰香咖啡味中带出一些肉桂及黑糖 ,有酒精闪现但很快消散,并不会影响味蕾美味体验。

2) Boiler Maker Bliss
Roasted malt with dark sugar--a little on the sweet side but not cloying--some caremalized dark sugar with hints of coffee and chocolate--smooth one.


3) Pips The Monte
was expecting something from a Pips mead since i have had 1 really mind blowing one back in 2019 during Tokyo share---this one though was nothing near--tasting berry and honey goodness but too thin a body really--flavours not sticking out.  


4) Superstition Grand Cru Pistachio
no doubt the white series is well known among mead geeks--and this cuvee of 4 different white series is a sure winner--but unfortunately did not get any of the Pistachio nose or palate wise.

美国顶级蜜酒酿坊只卖100瓶的限量作品,将四款不同梅果酿出的招牌Berry White系列按一对一比例混合而成後再加入榛果浸泡提味,遗憾的是由于之前这瓶在运到本地时莫名被扣在关税局长达半年左右,不知道是不是受到保存情况不佳影响,喝起来闻香虽是满满Berry White固有的厚实梅果蜜香但没能找到明显的榛果气息味道,是美中不足之处。

5) Side Porject Continuance & Genrational
a rather experimental approach from Side Project on both brew---Continuance was about finding "hybrid" tastiness from blending 5 different dark brews from different barrels---while Generational was a collab with Half Acre for an "all malt" barrel aged stouts with no adjunts added--to see how best a 'pure brew" can reach even better tastiness.

密苏里绝对高手酿坊的两款不同风味黑啤作品,前者是混合自家6款不同桶陈黑啤和大麦酒的混酒瓶子,后者则是和另一家美国酿坊Half Acre合酿的“全麦”纯粹桶陈黑啤(意思是不添加任何其他食材比如咖啡巧克力香草等等),一定意义上这两款都有实验性作品意味,前者玩的是怎样混出让人满意的Hybrid(混合型)啤酒,後者则寻求在较纯粹基础上找到黑啤可以呈现的更多美味层次可能性。


6) Antidoot In Christ there is no East or West
a mix of Japanese medlars with beer aged in Pinot Noir barrels--it's refreshing with hints of citrus flavours coming through--nice easy drinking especially in between big dark ones.


Monday, October 25, 2021

WEEK 194---How to Drink LAMBIC

No---unlike how the title is souding--not trying to teach anyone on how one should drink a Lambic--there are certainly Lambic experts who are much more knowledgeable to do that---what i'm trying to do here is more of wanting to share some observations with newbies who are interested with trying out Lambic but perhaps have no clues on how to appreciate a Lambic better.




For many newbies---Lambic can be something of a like it or shun it sort of beer style---most likely due to 2 reasons---firstly it's sour(can be really puckering to some during first few tries)---and then most importantly it has got this Unique FUNK resulting from spontaneous fermentation which can be really off-putting to someone's nose--kinda like those who cannot appreciate the smell of blue cheese or the extreme example of say a Durian.( of course the funky smell of Lambic is different)

So what is a Lambic?
in very simplistic form---a Lambic is a beer spontaneously fermented within the specific areas in and around Brussels or more specifically termed the Pajotternland area---the uniqueness of wild yeast within this region means that ONLY Lambic produced within this region can be called a Lambic(in a way similar to how a Campagne can only be called Campagne when produced within the specific French region)---and Lambic can only be brewed during the cooler/colder period of a year as hot weather is bad for fermentation process.
Also Lambic is a time consuming beer where it would typically take up between 1 to 3 years to produce/age/blend before deemed good for release to the market.


不同于喝其他类型啤酒比如IPAPALE ALELAGER等较易喝/直接类型,喝LAMBIC一定程度上是有些讲究的:-

here's a few observations when drinking Lambic:-
What to expect ?
It is not wrong to assume that when drinking Lambic---sour is the key word---but it does not just starts there and end there---a well made Lambic can be much more than just sour---in fact even within the context of sour---there can be different tone/layers of sour---say from sour to bitter sour to sweet sour to funky sour as well as back end spicy/ savoury/sweeten tone of sour---there can be varieties of sour notes in a Lambic.
Also--depending on the use of barrels( be it red/white wine or hard liquor)---and what sort of fruits or food items(say vanilla or tonka beans) were added---Lambic can have varieties of taste pofile even though the key tone is sour.
In short---when facing a Lambic--newbies would first and foremost need to be able to appreciate the idea that beer can be sour--be able to savour what else are there other than just sour---and MOST importantly be able to accept(let alone appreciate) the uniquely Funky smell which in more ways than one is the essence of a Lambic.



Drink it fresher or keep it ?
To many a geeks---Lambic is about time---meaning for a same batch of Lambic---drinking it fresher/earlier upon release OR drinking it after some time/years of aging can bring about quite obvious or very big differences in how the same beer taste or even smell--it's quite normal to hear geeks saying 'should have kept this bottle for another year or more" after cracking it and felt somewhat let down--that the beer did not taste as rounded/good/layered or too young/thin/ lacking in layers---hence the saying among geeks of trying to not waste a Lambic by drinking it too "young".
But this is not to say all lambic bottles needed to be kept for say over 5-10 years only can be cracked--some geeks actually prefer to drink some earlier for examples fruited variants fresher as the taste and aroma of the fruits would be more eveidently fresher.
In short---to drink fresher or to keep it is very much a personal choice---it depends on what taste profile/flavours one would expect from a bottle.


Just the beer or wallop the sediment too?
If you look around Lambic serving pictures on social media especially from the specialized Lambic bars---you would notice there's always a basket holding the bottle on it's side while the bottle is in a 'sleeping"position---this is not a gimmick or a show---the reason for this is simple---to keep the sediment at the bottom of the bottle while pouring.
The idea is to enjoy Lambic "clear' without the interruption of muddy sediment. 
In short---Lambic is best enjoyed while stirring clear from the sediment---but if muddy sediment is your thing---and you prefer your lambic drinking that way---then yes please enjoy it the way you prefer---personal perferences shall be respected.



Is Decanter a must?
craft beer in general needs time to warm up( or to breath so to speak)---Lambic certainly need time to get warmer after opening/pouring to show it's true potential taste profile---using a Decanter is one way of achieving that purpose---but personally i do not think it is a MUST have---if you happened to have a Devanter and feel like using it for a Lambic then by all means go ahead---but if you do not have one then there's no need to look for one purposely.
In short---so long as you give sufficient time after opening/pouring to that botlle of Lambic to breath/get warm before downing it--then it's quite good enough.



Thursday, September 9, 2021

WEEK 193---The Good Buddies of Craft Beer


Mentioned the word Beer---first impression which comes to mind for many is that Beer is just Beer---it is something very simple which has no relations with other alcoholic beverages whatsoever.
That is of course not true-- in the other world of beer--that of craft beer where beer indeed has many layers of closer than thought relationship with many other alcoholic beverages---for examples when beer are being barrel-aged in all sorts of barrels--be it whisky-bourbon-port wine-red or white wine-brandy-tequila-cherry wine- mead and many more...
In simple words--beer is in many ways closer to other alcoholic beverages than many would have thought.

大众印象中,啤酒只是简单易喝解渴酒精饮料,一些人甚至觉得跟其他酒类相比的话喝啤酒感觉层次低,但那只是片面看法也不重要,实际上在另一个很多消费大众还不认识的啤酒世界中,craft beer有不少其他酒类好朋友。

 啤酒能跟其他不同酒类有什么关联呢?说来还真有些,比如craft beer通过桶陈熟成手法吸收其他酒类使用过酒桶味道气息精华来提升啤酒风味层次是常见做法(所以啤酒带有比如威士忌或白兰地或葡萄或波特酒等等旧木桶风味一点不出奇),此外也有少量加入其他类型酒混合而成的啤酒作品,又或是craft beer酿酒师也是某种其他酒类(比如波本酒或自然酒或日本清酒之类)酿造者等等。

以下是一些比较常见于craft beer好友圈的其他酒类:-

here are few examples of craft beer buddies though they are completely different alcoholic beverages which are not beer yet do coexist in the world of craft beer:-

Beer Wine Hybrid
It is hard to imagine for many that beer can actually work well/closely with the seemingly "higher class" wine---in fact besides using old red/white wine barrels for beer barrel aging purposes---there has been some beer wine hybrid emerging in the craft beer scene--perhaps in part due to the rise of Natural Wine where some natural wine makers could also 'double up" as beer maker(one such example  is Antidoot Wilde Fermenten from Belgium).
As for the question of---Is beer wine hybrid more of a wine in beer form or beer in wine form---personally i would say basing on the limited number of bottles i have had so far---beer wine hybrid is in a way skewed more towards sour beer direction---but that is not to say it will only be that--hoping to sample some other beer wine hybrid bottles which would bring out even more possibilities from best of both world in the future...



虽说啤酒和葡萄酒界线分明,但使用旧葡萄酒木桶陈放熟成啤酒在craft beer界中是常见手法,而近年随着自然酒(Natural Wine)的流行,craft beer界也开始出现一些混合啤酒/葡萄酒的作品,虽然感觉上倾向酸啤酒类型,但视乎酿酒师想法,混酒作品可以喝起来像是葡萄酒的啤酒,也可以是啤酒风味占比更重类型。

Cherry Wine
The name says it all--it's wine made from cherries--but of course not as simple as well since there are many different types of cherries available--as well a cherry wine maker can decide/enhance/tweak how the taste profile of a cherry wine can be by way of using different types of barrels/adding intended food items/spices and so on--in short a well made cherry wine can be much more than just the simple impression of sour or sweet cherries.
Though a stand alone alcoholic beverages on its own and has nothing to do with Beer---it is not surprising to see Cherry Wine popping up during craft beer festivals( think MBCC or even MBCT)--also there's been some cherry wine-beer collaboration over the years--including one stout by The Veil which was barrel-aged in a Fredikskal cherry barrel which was absolutely tasty.



虽然听起来毫不相干,但樱桃酒在一些craft beer专卖吧或比如哥本哈根啤酒庆典级别的啤酒节出现是常有的事,craft beer使用其他酒类旧木桶添加水果包括樱桃浸泡啤酒陈放提味是惯见手法,樱桃酒桶也无例外的成为一些酿酒师桶陈选择,个人喝过最有印象黑啤中就有使用樱桃酒桶陈放版本,也在海外啤酒庆典和特定专卖吧中喝到美味的樱桃酒。

Mead is another stand alone alcoholic beverages which pop up very often in craft beer festivals---primarily brewed with Honey & Water( wild yeast too at times---as well adding fruits/food items/spices/adjuncts depending on styles/what brewers wanted to achieve)
Though relatively still under the radar here in Asia craft beverages market--mead is quite popular among some beer geeks---it is not uncommon to see overseas geeks seeking to trade mead for certain beer---or vice versa. 
Of course---there's a "mead-beer hybrid" in the form of Braggot---where the use of malt and honey made it a sessionable mead-beer( or beer-mead).



话虽那样说,但蜜酒一直都跟craft beer界关系匪浅,在不少啤酒庆典中会看到蜜酒酿坊出现,喜欢蜜酒的有相当多都是啤迷,在海外二手交换/转卖市场中也会看到有啤迷以蜜酒寻求心目中想要的啤酒(或反过来以啤酒寻求换取蜜酒),至于蜜酒为什么跟craft beer界关联密切,原因或许很简单,除了蜜酒酿坊也是非常小型酿造之外,寻求能带给味蕾美味享受特质是啤迷会喜欢上高质素蜜酒作品主因。

Short Note
Apart from the above mentioned 3---there are of course other buddies of craft beer which are being seek/liked by beer geeks---one such is Cider--be it pure cider which may or may not be barrel-aged OR hybrid of beer/cider---the sight of cider popping up at craft beer fest/or bottle sharing sessions is common.
Another rather new emerging "buddy' of craft beer is Seltzer( or some called it Hard Seltzer)---this one can be quite opinion splitting because to those who don't look up for it Seltzer is just carbonated sugar/fruited water with alcohol--it's far from being a beer---BUT we have seen beer geeks willing to trade good bottles of beer for it--as well saying good things about it---so like it or not--Seltzer is here to stay( at least for the near future).


上述3种不同酒类之外,近年出现在craft beer好友圈的包括CIDER(苹果酒)还有最近在craft beer圈子冒起的SELTZER(酒精气泡水)。在盛产苹果地区,把苹果酿成易喝苹果酒几乎是家常事,craft beer酿酒师通过放入其他酒类旧桶熟成或混合啤酒方式让这听起来家常的酒类发放异彩。至于酒精气泡水,有啤迷觉得只是汽水所以不屑一顾,但也有酿酒师通过添加水果或其他食材让听起来很不啤酒的气泡水变得不一样,从美国转卖/交换市场近期趋势看得出,确实有啤迷不惜以啤酒寻求换取气泡水。