Thursday, February 8, 2018

WEEK 123---Let's go Eat Drink Bangkok

Going to Bangkok has been a sort of annual "home coming" for me(and some other geeks) -- the food scene, the relatively more value for money logistic costs aside--the main draw for some of us geeks is all down to one particular craft place in Bangkok.
上周末去了一趟曼谷,目的很明确,直奔“米吧”(MIKKELLER BAR BANGKOK)四周年庆活动而去. 

说实在的,一家酒吧周年庆活动,年年都可以有,一般来说只是业者和亲朋戚友看重的商业活动,有什么值得关注的? 不过,曼谷“米吧”这次周年庆在某种意义上代表了Craft文化在东南亚以致亚洲的推动力度,从一开始到现在,无论是不是为了周年庆,曼谷这家“米吧”一直在尝试为啤迷带来亚洲从未见过/独家/罕见顶级酿坊/酿品,这些,只要是啤迷,都能感受得到。
The craft beer scene in Bangkok been bouncing the past 2-3 years, with not just the importing boys making waves ,but the local Thai Brew scene too been picking up pace rapidly, you can find quite many craft places in and around down town Bangkok area which focus on Thai Brew, be it only selling Thai Brew or mix of local brew and imported variants.
here's a piece about some interesting craft places worth visiting as recommended by BK magazine :- 
22 bars in Bangkok to drink beer. And only beer.

如果你不是很了解的话,源自哥本哈根的“米吧”是CRAFT的名牌代名词,在亚洲目前共有5家“分店”,曼谷首尔新加坡东京台北,虽说是“连锁式”分店,但不同城市都是不同合作伙伴,大家无论是在店面大小,选酒或比如说提不提供食物或什么样的食物方面都大不同。 

四年以来,亚洲来说,为什么会说曼谷这家<米吧>是个人首选Craft吧,原因很简单:-
Hence--to point out a single place in Bangkok as the main reason for the annual visit is perhaps biased--perhaps it's too much of a personal preference--but so be it---here's why:-
1) Geeks mainly/almost only seek out beer list first and foremost
It's a fact that what attracts geeks the most is plain and simple--what's on tap--or what's available at the bottle list/ bottle shop.
For the past 4 years--the guys working behind the scene at Mikkeller Bangkok has brought on some amazing--First in ASIA--or for that matter--NO other places in ASIA would have it---kind of tap takeover events--first intro of a top top brewery--as well food pairing events....

其一,酒单选择,对啤迷来说,有什么不同酿坊类型啤酒可喝最是关键,从13年的亚洲首次Three Floyds <占领啤酒泵>Tap Takeover) 带来包括Alpha King, Zombie Dust 等名作的好多款不同类型啤酒,到之后的更多不同酿坊酒款,例如去年初的美国顶级酿坊Superstition蜜酒配搭美食活动,到上周末四周年庆活动中亚洲第一次出现连续几年票选世界最佳酿坊Hillfarmstead 的几款啤酒,这些时不时会有全亚洲独家供应顶级欧美酿坊啤酒的动作树立了一个非常高的指标,曼谷<米吧>的确会让啤迷感受到幕后推手对带来更多不同酿坊不同类型啤酒选择的热忱。
The first ever Three Floyds tap takeover in ASIA was held in Bangkok back in 2014---with more than 10 taps--with brew such as  Alpha King, Zombie Dust..on tap plus some other variants in bottles. And then the intro of mead--including Superstition Meadery food pairing event---and then for the first time ever ASIA has got Hillfarmstead kegs on tap during this recent trip for their 4th anniversary party (though only 3 variants and tasted a little underwhelming) .
If you are a geek living in Asia--it's common knowledge how hard it is for us geeks to seek out those "harder to come by" US/Europe top breweries beers---and from a business point of view--it's much easier to play safe and just go with the flow--give the market something above average and it seems to work out fine--so to know that the people behind the scenes are trying year in year out to seek out for some of those top brew we have seen so far in Bangkok--it says a lot about the willingness to try and be different/bringing what geeks looking for--that alone is something most geeks would appreciate.
2) If you are new to the craft scene--never could imagine a beer bar is actually hidden in an old bungalow within a quiet residential area---with a garden and a casual fine dining restaurant as part of the set up--this is one beer place which would perhaps change your perception about beer drinking/gulping-- or the misguided perception that beer drinking is a not so classy act....

其二, 这是开在旧式独立洋房住宅区的两层楼酒吧,意思是,如果不是特意要来,一般人很少有什么机会偶尔撞见这样藏在巷子里,看起来就像比邻那种有树木花园的住家,一点不像一般人印象中酒吧模样。所以,这是家有时候人不多,甚至是非常安静如图书馆的酒吧,完全不适合一心只想要来买醉或者说喧哗畅饮作乐的人。
Of course some drinkers might want a drinking hole to be exactly like---a typical drinking hole with louder noises/music or people talking /cheering loudly---well--this place is not exactly that type of establishment--it can get a little too quiet at times--almost like a beer serving library during certain times of the week--but yes it does get busier and resemble more like a beer bar too---just so you know.
3) Am i trying to say this place is mainly or only for geeks? Definitely NOT--there's always a steady stream of people who are new to craft beer--or even those minority few who only come for the food rather than beers. If you are relatively very new to craft beer--it's all good--the 30 tap selections here would always have a few which are newbies friendly--but if you are a geek--then there's not much else to say--you know the deal/drill.

其三,虽然来酒吧的新人朋友不少,这里也可说是海内外新老啤迷聚点,偶尔会有啤迷带些瓶子过来分享,无论是不是长住曼谷,如果想买些瓶装罐装啤酒/杯子/酿坊商品回家喝跟朋友分享送人之类的,这里的瓶子店有时候可以找到一些独家供应啤酒。

4) If you are a foodie--or somehow have an affection for Michelin Star rated restaurant--well--there's actually one here--right Upstairs.
This is a casual fine dining restaurant helm by Chef Dan Bark--who is no stranger to the Michelin Star thingy--as he previously worked with 2 star and 3 star restaurants back in Chicago. before embarking on his journey  to BKK.
Personally im not a fine dining person--and obviously don't care much about the star ratings--but the fact that Upstairs won a one star recently is a point worth mentioning because it gave a strong and clear message to all those foodies out there who thought fine dining would always only go in pairing with Wine.
Nope--this place DON'T SERVE wine--only choices of different styles of beers--or occasionally some mead for your food pairing---or you could just drink still or sparkling water.
The star given to Upstairs is a sort of big boost for those trying to spread the love of craft beer--it's not beer vs wine kinda scenario--but more of a " now you can try pair nice food with beers--and it would bring on new gastronomic possibilities/enjoyment....."
其四,酒吧楼上有一家美食配搭啤酒餐厅UPSTAIRS AT MIKKELLER BANGKOK,如果你以为只是卖一般酒吧餐点的话就很错了,这是一家精致美食(CASUAL FINE DINING)餐厅,主厨是在芝加哥米其林三星级别餐厅当过副手的美籍韩国帅哥,这是可以轻松用餐的地方,一点也不拘谨,虽然因为不久前获得米其林一星而引来不少慕名新食客而必须提前预约,餐厅还是保持一贯作风,并没有因为星光照耀而特意去改变什么,菜单还是包含甜品在内的十道菜,价格保持泰币三千多,餐厅前场人员除了会详细告知每道菜特色成分,也有专人负责啤酒配搭咨询。必须说的是,虽是星级餐厅,这里只配搭啤酒,不提供葡萄酒,至于啤酒美食配搭部分,如果自觉喝不了啤酒,可以只是喝水,要是懂得自己配搭,也可以那样,喝什么啤酒自己拿主意。

如果你是喜欢CRAFT的新朋友,如果你还没有去过这家不像酒吧的旧洋楼,如果你是喜欢美食却不知道原来可以配搭啤酒的,下次去曼谷的时候,抽个时间,去喝喝/吃喝吧。
Is Mikkeller Bangkok really all that good and glowing?  well--as i said--it's a biased choice--a personal preference--though i have heard words such as " it's too quiet to be a bar--no atmosphere--pretentious"--and of course no one place is perfectly perfect---but then this is still one place i would gladly tell many it's one of most favorite craft places to visit---and if you have yet to visit--go see for yourself--i have seen it every year since they started and still not bored of repeating--not by any means.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

WEEK122---Talking SOUR--very briefly

We are all familiar with the basic taste profile when it comes to eating--sweet/sour/bitter/spicy/salty/umami.... perhaps what many people don't know is that all these different taste profile can actually be found in beer form.
吃东西有酸甜苦辣鲜,在Craft Beer 世界里,这些不同口味选择都能在啤酒中找到。啤酒能有酸味选择这件事,不是随便在酒中放点酸东西调调味就可以,作为Craft类别重要一环,酸啤酒本身就有好几个不同类别分支。
Let's touch very briefly about sour beer--while it could be totally unheard of for commercial lager drinkers that beer can be tasty sour--it is of course a much loved/very important category of craft.
虽说是酸啤酒,根据酿法风格可分为好些不同类别分支,比如比利时风格的Lambic, Flanders Red, Oud Bruin,德式风格的Gose, Berliner Weisse, 美式风格的American Wild Ale,都是酸味为主却不尽相同。
If you are totally new to sour beer category--here's some very basic idea:-
1) sour beer might sound kinda off-putting to many(especially male drinkers who prefer it "thick", i.e. IPA or Stouts drinkers)--but it's  mainly just imaginary obstacles/fear--while it's true some newbies might find the FUNK of Lambic NASTY--those who manage to overcome the initial resistance/fear would understand eventually how a nice bottle of sour can do to your palate / senses / enjoyment.
2) sour beer need not necessarily meaning so freaking sour til your tooth fell off--there are different layers to a sour beer--different level of sourness--different "thickness" of the body, different finishing--and if you have had some experiences drinking more lambic/sours from different makers, don't be surprised that some sour beers might taste a little sweet be it during the beginning, middle or back end of a sip.....(nope--not talking about the sweeten/sugar or syrup added version)
3) there are different styles of sours--there's the Belgium Lambic-- Flanders Red--Oud Bruin, German Berliner Weisse--Gose, American Wild Ale---each with notable sourness in the brew but with varieties of twist in between--depending very much on how it's brewed/what kind of fruits/food items added/ barrel used to aged....so on so forth...
Here's some very brief intro :-
LAMBIC-- a very unique brew from Belgium--in fact a specific region brew using the spontaneous fermentation method--meaning not using human made cultivated yeast but rather leaving the fate of brew to the natural surroundings/weather.
说是个人偏好也好,啤迷认同也好,提起酸啤酒一定要会比利时天然发酵果酸啤酒。
这是绝对宗师级别的酸啤酒,酿造有特定条件要求,比如说一定要在冷天气候才能酿,只能在特定地区利用空气中天然野生菌/酵母酿造,在橡木桶内熟成时间长,量少等等。

通过不同的水果或食材浸泡或调酒方式,比利时天然发酵果酸啤酒本身就有好几个不同分支,比如最受啤迷追捧的以下三款:-
Basically these are the 3 most sought after categories of Lambics:-
Kriek--sour cherries added --commonly seen as the most sour
啤迷看到这个字眼,大概会自动开始口水分泌,以酸度来说,这是所有不同分支中最酸的类别,基本概念是,用大量酸味樱桃浸泡原味天然发酵果酸啤酒熟成而得的酿品。
Framboise--raspberries added--the fruits influenced meaning it usually has a "thicker dark fruits/peel taste"-making it less sour.
也是用大量水果浸泡原味酸啤酒而得,虽然不同酿坊有各自做法,覆盆子(或称野草莓)是最主要重点,因为果味特性,喝起来不会像Kriek那么酸。
Gueze/Gueuze--a blended version of old and younger lambics--with distinct champagne-like bubbles characters, though some considerable years of aging would mellow down the whole thing.
这是混合酸啤酒,通过将不同年份原味酸啤酒,一般来说是一,二,三年,混合调制在橡木桶熟成而得,特点是口感有细腻类似香槟气泡,味道虽然还是以酸为主,对新朋友来说,只要能不被LAMBIC那股特有的香味(也有人觉得是臭味,跟蓝芝士或榴莲味道让人爱恨分明道理是一样的)打败,以酸度和口感来说,或许是个合适新人的切入点,
Flanders Red & Oud Bruin
Traditional brew from the Flanders region of Belgium--as the name/colors indicated--one could be tempted to simplified them as fruited sour red ale and brown ale but it's more than just that. 
Personally--the different between these two as compared to Lambics would be the obvious lack of FUNK, and to a certain extent a slightly more straight forward- very pleasant -more newbies friendly brew to start with.
啤酒中原本就有红啤和棕啤之分,这两个来自比利时北部的东北边和西北边的传统啤酒除了酿法和使用原材料有别,还是有相似之处,两者都不是真正意义上的天然发酵,一些酿坊作品喝起来微酸之余还会有甜味,虽说是比利时北部传统风格,CRAFT的世界有不少欧美酿坊在旧有风格中酿造自身版本致意或尝试旧风格新诠释。


Berliner Weisse
Most drinkers would know or tasted a German wheat beer/weiss bier before--it's sweet( at times overly sweet)/malty---well--think of the much less malty-sour & light body, refreshing version--that's the basic idea of a Berliner Weisse--it is something light and easy on the palate--i remember during a casual fine dining session--a certain berliner weisse was the perfect palate cleanser in between many courses. 
大家基本喝过的德国麦芽啤酒基本都带甜味,可以想象成反差版,将比较浓郁麦芽甜啤酒变成比较清淡带柑橘类酸味的易喝解渴啤酒,在一次用餐经验中,这款啤酒是非常好喝的“间隔酒”,不亢不卑的让味蕾舒适的从上一道菜中“醒过来”准备迎接下道菜。
Gose
This is a light and easy beer traditionally brewed with sea salt and coriander, those two would be the key ingredients where the basis of taste profile shaped--a sour and salty beer.
In the craft version nowadays though, brewers play around with a lot more other fruits/food items--the one thing that define this beer is that it shall remain a sour and salty influenced beer meant for easy drinking, meaning no amount of new twist would change those two key factors, for examples an overly fruity sweet gose will not be a gose no matter how innovative or new twist a brewer intended to bring on.
传统德式做法是一定有加盐加芫荽(香菜)酿制,是带咸味的酸啤酒,到了现在,不同酿酒师会加上自己的诠释,在传统酿法基础上或使用其他蔬果,或其他食材让这款咸酸啤酒带出新韵味。
American Wild Ale
There's no doubting the American craft prowess when it comes to turning certain styles into their stronghold--IPAs--NEIPA--Stouts comes to mind. While Lambic is uniquely the speciality of Belgium masters--the sour beer game has been something the American brewers pursuing and excel with nowadays, though it's very much subjective/debatable, the number of different styles of American sour beers listed on various beer ratings portals does indicate the strength of sour game in the US craft scene.
字眼中的WILD指野生菌/酵母,就像比利时天然发酵果酸啤酒那样,由此可见美式酸啤酒的借镜由来。有人说美式酸啤酒是在没有自身风格中寻找风格,因为美国啤酒基本以大手大脚投放啤酒花IPA和浓郁烈酒桶陈黑啤为人知,不过,这只是片面刻板印象,美国酿坊中有专注酿造酸啤酒的,虽然很大程度上受比利时宗师级LAMBIC风格影响,也蛮多向比利时或德国风格酸啤酒致意的相同风格酿品,无可否认的是,有好些美国酿坊的确把酸啤酒做的非常出色。

NOTE:- Beer Advocate listing is only for some added reading pleasure--not meant as any form of definite guide as we all know any top beer/best beer listing are very subjective.
以上所附不同类型酸啤酒排行榜单只是增添阅读乐趣,绝对不是买酒或啤酒人气指南。

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017 MOST MEMORABLE LIST by LIAM (HK)

The most memorable list series concludes with a list from Liam Lee, a friend who writes about craft beer/mead during his spare time, iif you read Chinese, you could find his blog on FB as shown below.
For his 2017 list, Liam is talking more about experiences of having craft beer/mead at specific places rather than just focusing on the brew itself--which is a nice touch since craft community do connects through the common love of good brew/awesome brew as well people we meet along the craft journey.

The Chinese version and photos are all Liam's--the English version would be my interpretation--again--not word by word.
年度最有印象酒单系列来到尾声,这次是来自香港的啤迷朋友LIAM的印象记,稍微不同的是,他并不是只谈酒,更多的是在聊去喝酒的过程和地方/人,的确,喝CRAFT乐趣并不是只在于酒本身,在哪里喝,和谁喝,遇到什么人都可以是很好的事情。

以下酒单的文和照片由LIAM提供,英文则是我的大概诠释版:-

感謝 Ct tai 再次邀請又有機會總結一下上年最有印象/難忘關於精釀啤酒/蜂蜜酒的兩三事......剛過去一年, 在家中Taproom, 品飲派對或到外地喝酒, 也差不多超過500款了要詳細記起味道, 來甄選10款實在有難度! 所以使我最難忘的不是味道而是經歷且看看大家的口味是否相似? :P
with more than 500 beers/mead had last year--it's quite difficult to try to pick 10 favourites--this list is more about experiences rather than brew taste alone--let's  see if there's similarity? :)
1. OmnipolloFEST 2017
由計劃行程派對過程到啤酒陣容最難忘的首位當之無愧-- 少於兩星期前才決定這次北歐之旅, 首天遇到恐襲 ( beer geeks 卻一於少理), tap list 方面, 30間著名酒廠最頂級的 Hill Farmstead, Monkish, Other Half, Cycle Brewing, Trillium 等等,  已記不起味道怎樣只遺憾試不完數之不盡的酒款.....
An unforgettable trip to Stockholm for the fest---with all those delicious brew from names like Hillfarmstead, Monkish, Other Half, Cycle Brewing, Trillium and more---the only regrets being not able to try emm all. 
2. Bokkereyder "Druiven 2015"
北歐之旅的最後一天來到丹麥哥本哈根的 Koelschip-- 一間由Mikkeller開設, 號稱在比利時外坐擁最多Lambic收藏之地, Bokkereyder 則是Ratebeer 2016年最佳新酒廠第1全世界更只有4間店鋪有他們的瓶裝! 當晚開了 "Druiven 2015", 用了Dornfelder, Pinot Noir Regent葡萄釀製的水果 lambic, 紅葡萄氣息, brett氣味跟礦物感濃烈, 以印有其品牌的 Zalto酒杯盛載, 滿足感滿分! 還要感謝太太跟我走了差不多一小時的路程.... :D
Last day of the trip to Scandinavia, had this grapes influenced beauty from Bokkereyder at Koelschip after almost an hour walk(thanks to wife for accompanying)--taste red wine-ish, brett, with hints of minerals--totally satisfied.
3. Mikkeller Bangkok 4th visit
第四次到那裡, 卻首次跟兩位beer geeks 好友同行, 感覺就是不一樣除了大熱的 Superstition meadery "Peanut Butter Jelly Crime (PBJC)" on tap, 能試盡 30 taps中的 15, 16 , 10 餘款的蜂蜜酒不跟 beer geeks 一起似乎是 mission impossible ? 5th visit (27Jan2018) 又來了全為了他們的週年派對和探望好友 Dan Bark和他剛拿到米芝連一星的 "Upstairs Mikkeller"!!!
The 4th visit there--and first time going with 2 fellow geeks from HK--with 30 taps and quite a lot of Superstition meadery variants including PBJC in the house--glad to have company otherwise  cant possibly tried 15-16 from taps plus another 10 + mead variants.
5th Visit is on the way( 27th Jan)--for Mikkeller BKK's 4th anniversary party, as well visiting Chef Dan Bark and the recently Michelin star awarded Upstairs Mikkeller. 
4. Omnipollo X Buxton "Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie"
給初嚐精釀啤酒的朋友嚐嚐, 會覺得像汽水, 無甚特別, beer geeks自然知道釀製這平衡度高, 略帶啤酒花氣息的"檸檬特飲或檸檬雪葩 (sorbet)" 啤酒絕不是易事!!! 又是感謝太太的時間, 為我在八號風球當天買到同名的甜品"檸檬蛋白甜餅"作配對因酒的酸度比甜餅更高, 正好中和甜品的"膩口", 一次成功的 food pairing.
Newbies might find this to be very much like a soda, nothing special--but geeks would know its hard to create such balanced beer with hops/lemony flavours which taste almost like sorbet in a beer---time to thanks my wife for bringing home a lemon egg white sweet tart as pairing during a stormy day in HK--these two really went well as a pair.
5. Liefmans "Kriek (1985)"
品嚐"歷史"的一瓶經過20多年的洗禮連木塞都嚴重發霉酒是深棕色車厘子不見了換來醋酸菇類和皮革味道好喝與否都不重要了......感謝 Kenneth帶來這次經驗
A bottle with rotten cork--after 20 odd years--showing brownish color- cherries not to be found, tasty or not is no longer the point--thanks to fellow geek friend Kenneth for sharing.
6. Omnipollo X Evil Twin "Lemonade/ Pink lemonade IPA"
"Lemon Meringue Pie" 有異曲同工之妙,  "Lemonade IPA" 更在香港牽起熱潮, "Pink Lemonade IPA" 平衡度較佳, "Old Fashioned" 的果汁感覺更像 NE IPA, 均是不可思議的酒款...... Henok  Karl Grandin  label 也是吸引我的地方, haha, 期待他們的 "Half & Half Lemonade Ice Tea IPA"
Amazing brew from these guys--and attractive labeling too.
7. Tired Hands X Omnipollo "Tangerine Dream Milkshake IPA"
啤酒能夠拉近人與人之間的距離又一証明 (太誇張吧?!), 到美國費城出差, 跟初次見面的同事熟絡就是靠 IPA! , Milkshake IPA 系列今次加入柑橘, 橙汁般的外表, 水果的香甜正好中和輕微的啤酒花辛辣, 是我喝過最好的 NE IPA 三甲之一
sharing some beer is a good way of getting close to people--this trip to Philadelphia drinking with newly met colleagues has proven it--as for the brew the fruity flavours nicely balance out the stronger taste from hops---one of the top 3 NEIPAs i ever had so far.
8. Barrel aged Imperial stouts from Hong Kong local breweries
本地的酒廠發展得越來越好也開始推出更多複雜的酒款, Young Master Ales "黑無常 (Hak Mo Sheung)" 是曾經在 MBCC 2017現身, 波本酒桶陳釀的 imperial stout, 還有加入辣椒朱古力和紅桑莓版本; Moonzen Brewery "門寶䘵神 (Moonbo & Lukzen)" 則是跟 Against the Grain 合作加入波本酒桶木片, 以煙熏麥芽和四川花椒釀製質素均是讓香港人感自豪
The local breweries scene in HK is getting better--for examples the BA imperial stout by Young Master Ales--as well as Moonzen Brewery's collab brew with Against the grain--some brews which the locals can be proud of.
9. Superstition meadery "Berry White Day Asia"
從沒想過香港這蜂蜜酒剛起步之地, 會舉辦這mead geeks趨之若騖的活動也是他們首次在亞洲舉辦的地方, 能一口氣試勻2017版本 "Berry White Series"的機會絕無僅有味道還用多說? 4 "Berry White" 厲害之處在於味道濃郁分明, , 莓酸中和了蜂蜜酒的甜度, 加上白朱古力的香氣, 是意想不到的""!!  
It's quite unimaginable an event of this level would happen in HK, this is the only such event in Asia--with a rare chance to taste all 4 White Series at one go--the rich and distinctively different layering of tartness and honey sweetness, plus the beauty of added chocolate--just so perfectly in harmony.
10. New Glarus Brewing Co. "Strawberry Rhubarb"
翻開相簿, 看到201711日喝的就是 New Glarus  "Belgian Red" 車厘子啤酒無獨有偶, 2018年的第一枝是他們的 "Strawberry Rhuarb", 不像他們恆常款式極濃烈新鮮水果的味道大黃 (Rhubarb) 的蔬菜氣息甚強士多啤梨反而其次但酒體極幼滑是對他們的酒嶄新體驗!
While referring back to the beer photos--the beer had in 1st JAN 2017 was New Glarus "Belgian Red"---coincidentally JAN 1st 2018 the first beer also from the same brewery--this time is Strawberry Rhubarb--with the rhubarb showing stronger influences than strawberry--tone new experience added.