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?

Monday, July 10, 2017

WEEK 109--Craft in ASIA---to FOLLOW or to LEAD?

×中英文版本有差别
This is a somewhat leaning towards idealistic piece about craft scenario in Asia from a  Geek's "by-stander" point of view.

Here in Asia--people who are genuinely enthusiastic about investing time/ money/energy to either become a 100% craft-importer, run a full fledged craft beer bar/bottle shop are quite a rare breed--simply because there are other businesses that would likely bring faster return of investment- require lesser efforts in educating consumers or staff about the whole spectrum of what craft beer/mead is all about....
在亚洲,有心投入时间金钱精力经营CRAFT的人不太多。
跟做大厂啤酒生意相比,经营CRAFT有时候就好比是没事找事,自讨苦吃。
为什么这样说?很简单,因为绝大多数消费者都知道大厂啤酒就是冷饮快喝的简单酒精饮料,可是绝大多数人都不知道CRAFT的不同类别风味,这意味着经营CRAFT需要投入时间精力传递如何选择/享受不同风味啤酒知识讯息,或者说教育消费者,听起来就头疼。
在亚洲,最普遍现象是,无论是欧美澳纽入口啤酒又或是有本土酿坊的城市,这三大类会是市场最通销啤酒,其一浅白易喝适合新人口味的pilsnerpale ale ,其二是不少人以为就是代表craft beer全貌的IPA,其三稍微“重口味”的stouts/porter
这是正常现象,打开门做生意,面对的现实问题不少,业者投入金钱时间精力当然希望生意有回报,确保生意有赚头当然很重要,尽量卖多一些比较畅销货色有什么问题?
The fact is--craft beer/mead business is NOT for anyone/everyone- there's a certain level of enthusiasm/passion/beliefs needed for someone to want to dive into that black hole of running a craft business--and that's perfectly fine--we don't need just anyone or everyone to come running into craft businesses though end of the day--just like any other businesses--passion/beliefs alone won't be enough to make business sustainable--all businesses need MONEY to compliment any noble intentions or enthusiasm--and that's when things might get a little complicated here on....
以吉隆坡来说,Craft在本地已发展接近6年左右,当时本地第一家自己进口啤酒的专卖吧从开业第一年因为生意麻麻差点结业到现在已发展分店到分销啤酒到吉隆坡以外一些餐厅酒吧来说,这条路走得不容易。
 只是,对少数狂热啤迷来说,吉隆坡的“外号”是沙漠,这是个半认真半开玩笑的说法,亚洲城市来说,吉隆坡虽然只有三几个比较认真的业者,craft专卖吧瓶子店加起来也只有四家左右,以本地不同业者引进的品牌类别来说,不至于是沙漠状态,对初尝者或刚开始接触craft新人来说,选择算不错的。
 那为什么要说吉隆坡是沙漠?对少数狂热啤迷来说,“沙漠化”导因是,市场来来去去能喝到的就绝大多时候都是三大类,很多时候还要是相同类别中比较平庸选择,这里没有很多不同类别风格选择,更谈不上大力推动CRAFT品饮文化。
Go to any cities in ASIA--and there's no surprises at all to find the 3 most commonly available beer styles would be:-
PALE ALE   IPA   STOUTS/PORTER
these 3 would probably be the best selling craft apart from the more commonly available Germans wit or Belgium ales.....

In a market inundated by MACRO offerings for decades--it's certainly not easy at all to run a craft business when majority who spend money on BEER still don't know there's a choice called craft beer, hence the question of :-
TRY TO LEAD
*do one set out to try and change the market drinking choices by introducing beer(or even mead) line up just as how the importer/owner( of bar/bottle shop) like/ wanted?
OR
GO WITH THE FLOW
*play it safe--play it slow--go easy on the "difficulty level" of beer/mead line up--bring in those that would suits majority drinkers taste profile--build up the market share and be contented with the fact that it's sustainable craft
It's obviously NOT an easy choice--when one is putting in considerable amount of money/time/energy trying to build a craft business in a "minority" market, in any business analysis/forecast plan--the answer is obvious--a business need to first survive--make profits--be sustainable---then only one can talk about "idealistic ideas" of wanting to have awesome varieties of beer styles to "uplift" the taste profile / palate/appreciation level of drinkers. This is the cold hard truth of business and it shows in quite a many craft places over different cities across ASIA.
这是在说吉隆坡是个很差劲的喝CRAFT城市吗?也不是的,实际上这样说对本地业者也不是很公平,政府多年来的超重税政策,加上近年节节败退的可怜马币让原本已经不利的经营环境雪上加霜,不过,要是放在很高水平要求基础上和亚洲一些不同城市,特别是也面对不利税务政策影响的曼谷做比较的话,吉隆坡还是做得不够好。

其实不只吉隆坡,对亚洲不同城市业者来说,如何选择也是个习题,是顺应市场绝大多数喝惯大厂啤酒消费者口味而只卖通销三大类? 还是说要本着引领市场口味而我行我素?当生意牵涉到金钱时间精力时,这个决定当然不是纸上谈兵那么简单。对啤迷来说,问题也凸显在这点,业者觉得市场不够成熟,新人朋友接受度不够,所以采取比较稳妥做法,尽量顺应市场口味。换个角度看,啤迷觉得如果业者不尝试引领市场口味选择,意味着新人们只能跟着业者脚步走,市场有什么就喝什么,碰上也是狂热啤迷的业者那还好,至少会有一些比较不同类别佳酿出现,如果遇到的只是稳妥做生意业者,那新人朋友大概只能三四年喝来喝去就那几支,或只能自己摸索前进了。
Is "going easy" on beer choices/line up a bad thing? From craft introduction point of view, the answer is NO--"easier beer choices" is actually good for craft to set foot in a minority market--it's good for newbies and it's good for business owners in terms of sustainability.
However--if we were to put the requirements higher--and purely from a GEEK'S point of view(i know--i hear you says why don't go open up your own)--then being safe and being contented with the same easy choices beer line up would equals to STAGNATION.

Yes--it's not easy at all to get brewers to want to sent their brew over to ASIA--especially those who gone big time hyped/ in demand---and it's a really time consuming/energy sapping/risk taking business to import/run a bar/bottle shop---but if we were to look at the very basics of market supply --in theory it would be craft importers/bar/bottle shop owners who would be the source of supply--meaning THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CAN DECIDE WHAT TO SUPPLY HENCE LEAD THE MARKET-LEAD THE DRINKERS, because unless a drinker is buying on his own from overseas--drinkers can only buy from what's available locally, and if the operators don't lead--then who?
从推广craft文化出发点来说,业者当然是引领并推动市场的力量,无论是作为入口商或经营专卖吧瓶子店或者说本土酿坊,市场供应本来就是由业者提供,消费者只能跟着业者脚步走,理论上业者当然是引领推动者,很欣慰的是亚洲的确已有些业者是这样做着。
 当然,当绝大多数消费者对啤酒观念还停留在大厂无趣啤酒时,要引领改变不容易,是的,站在场边指指点点很容易,穿上球鞋下场比赛去就不是那么一回事,只是,作为狂热啤迷,有时候还是忍不住唠叨一下希望亚洲CRAFT可以变得更美更好。

During a private bottle share recently here in KL, where we had some beers sourced thru own efforts, a friend who is more of a casual craft beer drinker said " if no one bring in these beers, then i will never know what is the different between awesome brew and a average brew--or say what's a NE style IPA..."

In ASIA--it's not realistic to wish or to compare with what our beer/mead friends who resides in US or EUROPE can get--the reality is such that when people in US can proudly says he or she don't drink IPA that's more than a week's old--we in ASIA can only dream of drinking that same IPA say maybe less than a month's old if one really seek for it on his/her own as it's very RARE(and don't really makes financial sense?) for ASIA importers to want to fly in fresh IPAs from US/EUROPE.

It's obvious ASIA cannot take US or EUROPE offerings /availability as yardstick--that's just too far fetch and not realistic--However, from a geek's point of view--trying to lead the market by introducing more varieties/ better brew would go a long way in elevating the taste profile/palate/appreciation level of drinkers here though it could be a case of 'easier said than done" in reality--the point is --if operators stays contented with the same old same old average/ mediocre line up or been going with the flow ( i.e. follow what easy beer drinkers wanted) for too long--perhaps it's time to see if a little varieties here and there would bring some surprises to the breaking of stagnation of both operators and drinkers palate? after all -is it not because of wanting to make a different that a craft business was chosen in the very beginning?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

WEEK 108- NEWBIES Craft LINGO

在亚洲,绝大多数人不知道CRAFT BEER是什么,这是些在专卖吧/瓶子店或CRAFT相关社交媒体看到听到的情节。
Observing reactions from people who have not heard of craft beer or newly into trying some craft can be amusing at times--here's some FREQUENTLY UTTERED sentences/comments seen/heard on a daily basis either at craft beer bar/bottle shop or craft-related social media here in ASIA:-
1) Do you have something similar to XX brand(of MACRO BEER)?
This is quite a daily occurrences at any craft beer bar/bottle shop--somehow someone would just pop that question---which effectively saying "Don't give me anything strange or unfamiliar-- i want my familiar MACRO tasting BEER".
It's human nature to resist change --or it takes time to step out of comfort zone/accept new things--but hey--this is just beer( or maybe mead)--and it's so much more fun and delicious than your average BEER--there's no need to feel threatened or fear.
IN FACT--walking into a craft beer bar or bottle shop and asking for "something which taste like a MACRO BEER" is just like walking into a fresh fruits juices bar and keep asking if you could buy a factory made can/bottle of juice from the super market--it's obviously a scene of being at the right place but asking the wrong question.....
1)有什么是最接近X牌子(大厂啤酒)口味的?                                 
很多刚刚接触CRAFT新人都只想喝类似自己喝惯的“浅易喝”大厂啤酒,对看起来很陌生的啤酒名称/品牌/类别风格显得有点困惑,虽然对不熟悉事物有抗拒感是可以理解的人类本能行为表现,不过也是件有点好笑的事,感觉就像踏入鲜榨果汁专卖店却一直问店员有没有超市卖那种瓶装/罐装果汁。
虽然一开始CRAFT可能让一些新朋友觉得“胆怯”不想尝试不熟悉风味啤酒,其实也没什么可怕的,不就是啤酒吗?更何况是比大厂啤有趣何止百倍的众多不同口味选择。
2) Give me the BEST beer/most Delicious beer
It's a common scene where someone walk into a restaurant and asked "what's the best dishes/ what's the most delicious food?" here in ASIA.
However--trying to apply the same logic when in a craft beer bar/bottle shop would not work--because with that many varieties of beer styles/taste profile--who is to say which beer is the BEST of the lot?
OK--there's so called top 100- top whatever chart listed out there on social media by beer rating websites-apps-magazines-experts and so on--if you a firm believer of others opinions about where a certain beer would place in a "top xx/xxx chart" then so be it--but the truth is--no one knows for sure which is the BEST beer.
2)请给我“最好喝”“最佳”的啤酒
去餐厅点餐时候,常常有人会跟店家说“请介绍这里最好吃最拿手的菜”。
依照这个逻辑,有人会在CRAFT专卖吧/瓶子店这样问并不出奇,问题是,这样子问店员有点等于是走入水果店,然后问店家说,什么水果最好吃?什么水果最佳?那么多不同类别风味水果,你觉得会有绝对答案吗?
CRAFT的世界里,的确有评酒网站/应用程式并衍生出类似“啤酒排行榜”的“民意调查”,可是,真要说清楚什么才是最好喝,最佳的啤酒,可以很肯定的说,没有绝对答案,一杯啤酒好不好喝,排除酿造水平/储存情况因素不谈,还需要考虑不同类别风味,或者说喝酒人当时心情状态,是不是有比较想喝什么类型啤酒而定。
情况就像榴莲号称“果王”,可是,会是每个人心目中最好吃,最佳水果吗?
Let's micro zoom a little here--on what might influence one's judgement about how a beer taste( to decide if it's a good one at that time of drinking)---let's take out the issue of whether it's good or bad brew--also take out the issue of how the beer might be handled logistic wise--let's just say it's a beer in good condition to drink--what might influence one's judgement about a certain beer is still quite a few:-
A) what are you looking for? or even crave for? a light beer? a heavier one? sweet one? bitter one? sour one?  
B) physical condition at time of drinking--fresh palate? tired already?
C) personal preference on beer taste profile influenced by food/fruits preferences..
Just imagine this scenario--you walk into a fruits stall full of all kinds of fruits--and you ask " which is the BEST?"--how to even compare apples with oranges? and while there's this saying that DURIAN( in particular the Malaysia species) is the KING of Fruits--how many of you out there would agree in unison?
3) This beer is so expensive/ so cheap
Let's agree on 1 thing first--that everyone view prices/value for money ( or not) very differently.
In ASIA--different major cities would have different taxes/policies in place by respective governments concerning alcoholic beverages including craft beer/mead --and the different ways of beers/mead being imported(officially sourced or grey imports)--hence it's obvious prices of same beer/mead from same brewery/meadery can have price differences.
BUT--even if there's no price differences caused by those mentioned above--assuming prices stays the same from Tokyo/Seoul to Beijing/Shanghai to Hong Kong/Taipei to Bangkok/KL/SG---THE FACT is there would always be some geeks who are willing to pay over the odds( say USD100 or above) just to secure some rare/hyped/hard to come by beers from US/Europe---while there would also be a bunch of people thinking to pay a few bucks more for a certain craft beer is just expensive/ not justifiable.....
3)这支/罐啤酒好便宜/好贵
很显然,什么是便宜,什么是贵,每个人都有不同看法。
一支啤酒应该定价多少钱是因人而异的事,举个比较极端例子,对亚洲一些狂热啤迷来说,有人会因为某支限量难找加上欧美城市运费而愿意付出上百美金代价还觉得庆幸能买到,相反的,也有人会因为啤酒卖价比大厂啤酒贵十块钱而觉得太贵。
在亚洲不同城市,因为税务结构,因为不同业者各有不同方式/管道引进啤酒(比如说正式代理或灰色渠道引入的“水货”),也因为不同CRAFT品牌之间有量多量少/红不红/受不受追捧等因素影响,同样是名词意义上的“啤酒”,价格可以差很多。
喝啤酒确是个人口味看法不同的事,只是,有时买到“便宜”啤酒未必就是赚到(有留意装瓶/罐装日期?赏味期限?有没有晒坏?),给太高“二手价”追难找限量啤酒也不是什么值得高兴的事,毕竟,啤酒价值还是体现在酿品味蕾口感层次表现,既不只是随便冷飕飕喝的解渴酒精饮料,也不是因为限量难找就一定好喝或拿来炫耀的战利品。
The fact is--there's no need to think you have gotten a bargain by picking up some super cheap beers in a supermarket or such because unless you have checked the expiry dates/bottling/canning date/storage condition--you would not know if the beers still worth that few bucks you have just "gained"/spent.
As for geeks who chases after rare/hyped/hard to come by beers--the true value of that bottle is still about how it taste--it's not something to brag about or showcase as a shinny trophy.
4) Give me the STRONGEST tasting/ Highest ABV beer
Anyone asking for this would probably due to :-
A) thinking that the higher the ABV--the stronger a beer would be in taste profile--which obviously is wrong/misguided perception--the truth is some badly brewed beer can taste full of alcohol even at 4 or 5 % ABV--while some well made beers/mead can taste so "harmlessly smooth" at well over 10% or 20% ABV.
B) been watching too many badly made movies/drama series thinking that drinking beer is just to get DRUNK.( wake up--it's not cool)
4)给我酒精度最高,最烈的啤酒
出现这种要求通常两个情况,一是说这话的人想追求醉的感觉,另一个就是误以为酒精度高/口感烈的啤酒才是比较“重口”,比较“喝得出味道”。
误认为酒精度越高/越烈代表“口感越重”或者说“越好喝”是完全错误的观点,啤酒的美味层次并不单纯取决于酒精度,基本概念是,高酒精度啤酒未必一定就是喝起来“重口味”(酿得好的可以完全没有“重度”,易喝到吓死人),低酒精度啤酒也可以有丰富美味层次,好喝到不得了。
如果你觉得喝酒只是为了买醉,醒醒吧,都什么时候了还相信烂电影烂电视剧桥段?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WEEK 107---Craft What Fun?

2013年底朋友鼓励抱着写玩玩心态开始“CRAFT IS ART” 部落客,到隔年写“顽啤主张”,有朋友问到底Craft魅力何在,可以让人如此着迷?来聊聊到底怎么回事。
It's been quite a while since this blog started, here's a little "looking back and forth":-
1) how it started?
About 5 years plus ago--going to the only dedicated craft beer bar in town--the drinkers would almost always full of either expat or foreign tourists, the percentage of local drinkers are quite small- that's when a friend suggested " why not try writing a blog about craft beer in Chinese?"
(*Malaysia as a muslim country--technically speaking it's only the Chinese with 20 plus % of population and Indians at about 5 plus% who are not bound by "prohibition laws" and can drink freely) 
Then again--since there are Chinese who don't read Chinese, as well for the benefits of some friends who are not Chinese--a Chinese + broken English blog was born in late 2013.
1) 怎么开始的?
56年前去本地唯一1craft beer专卖吧时,都是外国人居多,有朋友提议说为什么不写中文啤酒blog尝试推广?后来想到有不会看中文朋友,也不管半桶水英文,于是变成中英文双语版。
2) drinking craft---what is it all about?
it's still beer drinking--only and HUGE difference is Choices available.
Imagine this--all the MACRO BEER you been drinking so far is like eating Plain White Bread and nothing else.  Drinking craft is more like making bread into all sorts of delicacies -you could put on fresh vege or ham or eggs or add some fruit jam-peanut butter jelly- toast it- roast it---the possibilities quite endless...
2) craft 到底怎么一回事?
本还是喝啤酒,巨大不同是变成有很多不同类别风味啤酒选择。
简单说,可以想像成以前喝的大厂啤酒都像是白面包,而喝craft beer就像是开始在全麦面包上做各种美味添加,涂上果酱-花生酱-蜜糖,变成三文治或烤土司等美味转身,听起来是不是美味多了?
3) what got you into the craft "black hole"?
10 years ago--anyone who chose to drink some "Macro-ish" German beer or Belgium beer here in KL is considered advance drinker ;) 
There's simply no supply of craft beer here until about 7,8 years ago when a small Belgium restaurant in Bangsar brought in beers like de la senne, st.martin,  Hopus, Duvel...that was probably the time when palate was open up somewhat. BUT the 2 beers that really gotten me was Rochefort 8, as well as a vintage 330ml Struise Black Damnation Mocha Bomb kindly shared by the owner, those 2 beers definitely impacted the palate in more ways possible at that time.
3) 什么情况下陷入浩瀚啤海的?
一直以来吉隆坡没有craft专卖店,当时会喝些德国啤酒就已很与众不同了,七八年前有一家比利时餐厅自己小量进口几个不同品牌比利时craft beer,那时算大概知道什么是不同啤酒美味层次,真正让人开窍的啤酒是餐厅主人分享私藏,一是Rochefort 8号,另一是已绝版Struise Mocha Bomb小支装,对那时候味蕾来说,这两支啤酒带来震撼是影响深刻的。

4) what fun being a geek?
Geeks at times are seen as "alien subject" by some other drinkers--simply because they are seen to be either too picky about beer or trying to make something as simple as beer drinking into complicated rocket science?
In truth the joy of being a geek is the same as say a foodie, it's all about finding and enjoying different taste profile, in this case, either a beer or a mead, and that is all geeks wanted, nothing too complicated really. 
and if you don't realized, being a geek in ASIA can be not much fun--painful even at times--simply because we lives so far apart from Europe/US where lots of awesome beer/mead originated from and hardly get any consistent or fresh enough supply.
4) 啤迷乐趣是什么?
有人觉得啤迷就是没事找事的一群不就是啤酒吗?有什么需要那么执着讲究花钱花时间精力研究,一定只要喝这或那的?
在亚洲,很多欧美厉害啤酒没人引进(或者说拿不到代理权),啤迷只能自主,通过欧美朋友或特定网店或啤酒对换方式等取得心头好,这其实是不太符合经济效益的举动,不过一些啤迷甘之如饴,为的只是想和同道中人分享尝味道。
说到底,啤迷就只是对啤酒风味水准有一定程度要求的一群,像喜欢美食的人那样,这是个讲求酿品水准美味层次群体,不了解的人觉得啤迷为了普通不过的啤酒而走火入魔是可以理解的,毕竟,不同风味佳酿能带来乐趣只有啤迷才能领会。
5) what so fun drinking craft?
first and foremost--it's different--though it's still beer--the varieties of taste profile one could get out of a craft beer (or mead) is so so much different from gulping your usual BUD or Tiger or Carlsberg or Tsingdao or Chang....
secondly- drinking beer can become something one could "taste"--the term tasting session no longer belongs to just whisky or wine--with craft beer you really can enjoy better with a tasting session- drink less taste more.
IF you are into or have friends who are very into certain sports or hobbies, say photography, cooking, rock climbing, writing or whatever--the joy is the same when you share and appreciate good craft beer/mead.
5) Craft乐趣是什么?
不喝酒人对喜欢喝酒人印象就是醉醺醺,喧哗,乱性,甚至闹事等刻板负面标签。
说喝craft是不一样的,一般人好像有点难以理解,因为不也是喝有酒精饮料?
对啤迷来说,喝craft基本像享受美食甜点咖啡品茶,是讲究味蕾享受美味层次,不牛饮不斗酒,意思是,啤酒在这里变成适合品饮(TASTING)的东西,不再是一般人印象中廉价酒精饮料而已。
因为品饮,因为不同美味层次享受,啤酒让啤迷之间找到共同话题,也因为craft文化特质,让啤迷间有了共识,找寻或分享美味佳酿是乐趣,让更多新朋友认识craft也是乐趣。换个角度看,啤迷的乐趣跟摄影发烧友或美食爱好者之间没区别,大家都有追求目标,也有共同语言。
6) does it make any difference---when majority drinkers just simply buy BEER and gulp it down?
It's a fact that MACRO BEER is the market leaders in terms of volume and easy access to getting it--but craft is here, craft is a CHOICE, and a much much better one (ok, fxxk some awful brew claiming to be craft)--people just need to open up their eyes and mind and give some varieties of craft a few tries before even trying to decide or judge if craft is worthy sip or to your liking.
craft in ASIA is still at early developing stage--if the US market took about 20 odd years to gain a strong foothold in the beer market while trying to fend off all kinds of tactics from MACRO--ASIA might need that long a time to get craft moving in the right direction--one step at the time--so long as craft community moves--the craft movement will move in tune...
6) 绝大多数人都随便买随便喝大厂啤酒,啤迷摇旗呐喊有用吗?
Craft主要靠口口相传,如何让更多人知道啤酒不是只有大厂品牌,craft beer才是更美味多变化选择不是短期内就能看到成效的事。美国的craft革命用了20年左右才有如今占整体啤酒市场销量10多巴仙成绩,亚洲肯定需要时间,而且搞不好比美国更长时间才能让更多消费者开始意识到喝啤酒时其实有更多美味选择。
7) why write when the market is dominated by MACRO still?
when this blog started--or subsequently when the local Chinese newspaper Guangming Sunday feature section invited to start a craft column--the thought is the same--it's to share thoughts about craft--though maybe it would be nice to be able to earn money while writing/sharing like J.K.Rowling or some big time blogger but i guess that's not happening/not gonna happen :)
end of the day--if anyone who read this blog/newspaper column or say someone met in person got interested with craft and went on to explore more--i guess that would be reasons enough to keep writing/sharing...(though i won't mind IF someone like to donate millions to the account and say go on be a full time craft writer or go and publish a book or something : )
7) 大局是那样,还有什么好写的?
无论是最初写部落客或“顽啤主张”,都没什么伟大理想抱负,只抱分享心态,想到什么就写什么,要说有谁看了会对craft beer产生兴趣,或觉得原来长大以来以为认识的大厂啤酒并不是啤酒全部真相,那就够了。