#34 – Urbock

If you squint you can almost make out the herds of wildebeests sweeping majestically through the Ngaio high country.

Name: Urbock
Style: Dunkler Bock
Brewed by: Namibia Breweries (Windhoek, Namibia)
Alc: 6.2% abv.
Price: $3 per 330ml bottle from Regional Wines and Spirits

Around the World in 80 Beers
Episode 5: Namibia

There’s a lot to like about this one right from the get-go. Nothing fancy about the ingredients (“brewed by choice according to the Reinheitsgebot standards”), the name or the packaging, or even the price which is pretty damn good. Even better, far from being yet another faltering attempt at an entry-level lager with broad appeal to the general market (read: cheap, yellow piss for poor and brainless teens), this is marketed as a winter specialty*, brewed just once a year by a company coming up on a century of operations. Namibia doesn’t immediately spring to mind when one thinks of the great brewing nations but all evidence suggests that these guys at least know what they’re doing and this is, according to ratebeer.com at least, the nation’s finest beer. Continue reading

#33 – Baltika 3 Lager

In Soviet Russia…the usual beverages are brewed to an acceptable standard and exported in increasingly large quantities.

Name: Baltika #3
Style: Pale Lager
Brewed by: Baltika Brewery (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Alc: 4.8% abv.
Price: $6.25/500ml bottle from Regional Wines & Spirits

(Yes there is much to say about the last week or so, what with Beervana and such. It’s on the way, I promise. In the meantime…)

Around the world in 80 beers episode 4: Russia

From the outside, everything about Russia seems big. Big empty spaces, big novels, big problems. And deep. Deep thoughts, deep voices tinged with hardship and anger. One doesn’t consider them a people given to frivolousness and half-assery. This though is not a big beer, nor a particularly deep beer. Admittedly from Baltika’s range this would be the one with the broadest appeal in the foreign market. They have a dozen or so of which #6, a Baltic porter, I think sounds the most intriguing. But it is the lager I ended up with. Truth be told, despite the friendly (one hopes) words on the label “Meet the Russian Beer” there’s very little that feels Russian about it at all. Continue reading

#31 – Efes Pilsner

Around the World in 80 Beers episode 3: Turkey

Name: Efes Pilsner
Style: Pale Lager
Brewed by: Anadolu Efes
Alc: 5% abv.
Price: $17/6 x 330ml

It was always going to happen sooner or later. I’m sure the Turks could make some fine brews if they set their minds to it, and maybe they do, but like many other countries the only stuff that seems to escape their borders and make it down to this chilly little backwater is the seemingly omnipresent thin, yellow lager that doesn’t do anyone any favours, least of all the Turks themselves, because this could have been made by almost anybody with a requisite disregard for taste, pride and distinctiveness. It’s not awful, though it is common as muck and very difficult to enjoy. Or, as it turns out, to write about without sounding like a complete dick. Continue reading

#30 – Headstock IPA & Dead Elephant IPA

Around the World in 80 beers episode 2: Canada

Name: Nickel Brook Headstock IPA
Style: IPA (surprisingly enough)
Brewed by: Better Bitters Brewing co., (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)
Alc: 7% abv.

 

Name: Dead Elephant Ale
Style: IPA
Brewed by: Railway City Brewing co., (St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada)
Alc: 6.5% abv.

 

 

The keenly observant will notice that I have again been absent. Now I could say it was due to a bout of consumption, general lethargy or a family crisis involving the antichrist but I’d also have to admit to some trepidation in doing this beer – or rather beers because there are two of them this time – a couple of badass Ontarioian IPAs bequeathed to me on a recent visit by Kim, site godfather and beer and music guru. I had better tread carefully here for I am a stranger in a strange land. I have to say though that any lingering thoughts I had of Canada being filled with mooses, manic flappy-headed farters and, worst of all, ghastly lightweight American-style pale lagers are, thankfully, not quite entirely accurate. These are both fairly big beers; filling, warming and ever so slightly boozy, all of which is good.

Continue reading

#28 – Estrella Damm Inedit

Around the World in 80 beers episode 1: Spain

Pretty pretty

Some explanation is in order here. In looking into the feasibility of doing a world tour of sorts inspired by the Phileas Fogg journey it becomes clear pretty quickly that following such a route would not at all be a beery trip these days. I’m not sure all the countries he went through still exist, let alone produce beer, let alone produce beer available in New Zealand and furthermore depending on certain international maritime boundaries possession of said beer would probably land you in a fairly unpleasant prison at some points of the journey. So that’s out. Continue reading