Weekly Beer Focus - Beer Geek Challenge! ANYTHING but U.S, Germany, England or Belgium (8/12 - 8/28)

I missed by a week or so, but had a slew of South African and Namibian beers in July and early August, including many bottles of these:

Windhoek Lager
Windhoek Draft
Hansa Lager
Hansa Marzen Gold
Castle Lager
Castle Milk Stout
Tafel Lager
Carling Black Label

Basically ZA and NA make a lot of light lagers. All are under 5%, all are vaguely in the Pacifico / Heineken / Carlsberg / Stella / etc category of, IMO, better than the mass produced American adjunct lagers, but still far from compelling. One or two taste good on a hot afternoon but it’s hard to drink more than one or two due to dwindling interest. The Milk Stout is not wonderful but is serviceable and is a welcome relief from the lagers from time to time.

Really a bummer there isn’t a better beer culture or the least of a microbrewing industry in ZA, as I was really surprised at the quality of the Australian beers I had over a month in May.


Only 20 million domestic consumers, high alcohol taxes and not a ton of exports makes me think nah.

My only other guess besides USA or China is Belgium, but my guess is really China with USA as the 2nd most likely. Would be interesting to see how it really breaks down, time to look it up now that I’ve staked my wager…

No contest.

BTW - I have always likes Aass beer, though it is not the style in favor these days.

Castle Lager shows up a lot at Ethiopian restaurants. It’s fine for that meal, but not something I’d seek out. I prefer Bedele when they have it, which I think is actually Ethiopian.

I’ll bite.
Pilsner Urquell at the Brewery - this beer is fermented in open-topped wooden tanks and then pumped into 750 gallon pitch-lined wooden casks to lager - all in the caves under the brewery. When you take the tour, a brewer taps a sample valve into the bottom of a cask and pours you a glass. The beer is slightly cloudy, with a little H2S in the nose, followed by a melange of Saaz hops and Moravian malt aromas. On the palate, the beer is a little under-carbonated, but malty and bready, with really nice hop flavors without being over the top. The bitterness is crisp but balanced, and the beer has a very nice hop/malt finish.

IMO, this is the best Pilsner-style beer in the world, and it is a significant step up from any other Pilsner Urquell (the rest of the beer is flash pasteurized and filtered prior to bottling or kegging) that I’ve had anywhere - and the Pilsner Urquell in the Czech Republic is way better than it is in the U.S.


It does bear noting, Chinese beer is game for this tasting!!

Ummmm, no gracias……I’ve drunk more than my fair share of Tsingtao.

Will have to bear this in mind when I’m there in about 2 months… With that much produced it can’t ALL be sh!t, right?

I picked up these two Italians at lunch, they better be damn good for the price.

Birra del Borgo makes very good beer. I have one of theirs one tap for this tasting (their Ke To Porter – brewed with Kentucky tobacco leaves - I’m expecting it to be not boring). How much did that one set you back? $17?

$14.99 for the Birra del Borgo and $10.99 for the Birreria La Bala.

Hard to tell what style they are, but I think the Birra is Saison similar while the other is a strong pale.

FIXED! [bow.gif]

I think the challenge (not the consumption question) varies in difficulty based on where you live. I would assume even the most plain vanilla strip mall suburbs in the flyover states would still have things like Singha, San Miguel or Tsingtao (made/distributed by Budweiser I thought) to beat the challenge. Also, obvious omissions such as Czech Republic and Canada, as well as MEXICO which I didn’t think I saw yet (Corona, Tecate, Dos Equis, etc etc…) and I can’t believe Jorge didn’t mention the beloved Presidente from la Republica Dominicana!

Put yourself in the right neighborhood in NYC and I bet you could find a beer from every country that has a modicum of a residential concentration of ex-pats. I actually tried 3 different Polish beers being sold by my favorite fruit market up the street, they were meh so I didn’t really pay attention. There is plenty of Baltica in my hood in every number/flavor. I also have a couple of Romanian restaurants in the hood and I have seen some Romanian beers. There are also beers from Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil and Colombia at most of the Latino bodegas. Random beers are easy to find in NYC. The question is, how good are they?

And that’s why no one mentioned most of the beers you listed. When I went down in May to visit my family, I had a few Presidentes after a long hiatus. By the way, the ones available here have a 1% less abv than the DR version. In any case, after SO many years of only drinking that beer while growing up, all I can say is that, only when freezer-cold, it’ll do a serviceable job of refreshing you on a steamy Caribbean afternoon. Taste-wise, there’s really nothin to say.

I think, inherent in the challenge, is to find the good ones, which, indeed can be challenging depending on which countries you go after. For example, one could take the easy way out and simple drink Irish, Scottish, and Czech beer. Certain countries were not excluded by executive decision, as said executive feels that most (not all) board members here don’t often explore the beers of the countries that were not excluded. I think Jorge hit it on the head when, in a different thread, he said something to the effect of 'Excluding U.S.A, Germany, England, and Belgium excludes pretty much 95% of the beers discussed here."

Hopefully some folks find some hidden gems during this tasting. [berserker.gif]

I saw a couple of Costa Rican small production craft beers today, but got a business call and had to leave without checking them out. I will go back and pick something up though. It seems to me that most of the people who participate in these threads don’t have any problem finding good beer.

Haandbryggeriet “Norwegian Wood”. This is my first “smoked” beer. There is a whiskey drink at The Aviary, Grant Achatz’s cocktail lounge in Chicago, that begins literally as a glass of smoke. For me it evoked childhood memories of the clam bakes and block parties. This is more burnt, like smoke-taint in wine. The taste is pleasant, mildly fruity (juniper berries), but it’s tough for me to get past the smoke.

The nose gave this a lot of promise, very similar to Dupont. Unfortunately that’s about the only thing I enjoyed about it. Very little carbonation which is bad as I feel that’s what adds a lot of the refreshment factor to the Saison style. There’s some decent spice, but it’s pretty muddled and uninteresting. Easy pass especially for the high price tag.

I’m in, but I need to go to the beer store and find some stuff.