Redpoint Brewing Company

(Taipei City, Taiwan)

Lucky for us Taipei is crawling with street food, so we had ample sustenance during the day, regardless of that, by the time Redpoint opened we were on brewery number four, intoxicated, and hungry.  I was so ready for what turned out to be the best wings and burger I’ve had in over a year that I only managed to get a picture of the wings and two pints; not the burger and other two pints we had.
The first person to greet us after setting up chairs by himself and training a new waitress wasn’t a random bar manager or server, but the co-owner and head brewer himself.  We were the first ones in the door, but were quickly followed by 3 groups of 3-5 people who seemed as though spending time there was as easy as spending time at momma’s table.  Everyone in Taipei seemed nice and hospitable, but this place has something just a step above the status quo.
The first pint was 台.P.A (Tai P.A.):  A nicely balanced, crisp and smooth IPA – I’m not sure what else was in there, but it had an obvious sorachi character.  As I said- I was already pretty hungry and this one went down real quick (so who really knows?!), but well done nonetheless.
Next up was Rock Monkey stout.  This one was a bit too hop forward, for a stout, and for my liking.  It was also a bit thin and finished with what was probably supposed to be coffee roast, but manifested like burnt toast.
Disco Macaw is tagged as a Juicy pale ale with simco, mosiac, and citra.  I loved the balance and the blending of character in this pale ale. I’ve had worse NEIPAs IN New England.  Nice refreshing brew!
Our last pint was the Cherry Stuffed Summer IPA.  I think this placement was a bit out of order as we were letting our stomachs do the thinking, so perhaps that’s why this one didn’t impress or perhaps it was due to it being in circulation too long (we were there during the beginning of Oct), but regardless- I didn’t love it.  There wasn’t much cherry past the aroma and the hops were a little stale. Silver lining: It was impressively light for 8.6%.
Beers went 2/4, but the food was amazing and the friendly staff put them over the edge in the win column.  Probably won’t be back to Taipei with so many other destinations on the list, but we’ll find ourselves at Redpoint if we do.  All in all, I give Redpoint Brewing Co an 8.2 out of 10.
Look for the tag (RPBC) to see where they fall in the style rankings!

Taipei Brewery/Baby Taipei Brewing Co

(Taipei City, Taiwan)

Under the major corporation; Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor is the Taipei Brewery that pumps out national beverages like Taiwan lager.  Within that major brewery is Baby Taipei Brewing pumping out some pretty awesome, small-batch brews. There was no food, but the beers were on point and the brewery itself had an awesome atmosphere with a chill outdoor sitting area.  This type of thing really doesn’t exist in the states (to my knowledge): It would be like Coors having an awesome microbrewery within their distribution plant in Denver.
ANYWAY- we had the mass-produced stuff in bars and restaurants throughout the week, which compared to other countries’ major brands isn’t bad, so we grabbed a few bottles and took a load off.
First up was Taipei Blonde Ale.  There wasn’t a ton of flavor packed in this bottle, but I could have sat and sipped all day if we didn’t have a few more places to see.  It’s always my dilemma when we’re on vacation: We have so many things to do that I’m left thinking- “Well, I wouldn’t mind living next door for a month or two.”  Baby Taipei really captures my idea of a ‘porch sittin’ brew.
Our second bottle was Osmanthus Herb Beer.  Oddly enough, my first sip of osmanthus was a mere few minutes before.  This one outdid Zhang Men slightly, but I still wasn’t in love with it. It draws you in with a sweet apricot and buttery nose, but follows with a dirty earthiness that leaves you feeling a little disappointed.
If this was the first stout I’d had in Taiwan and compared it to the bad ones I’ve had in Korea I might be inclined to rate it a little higher, but now that I know IT CAN BE DONE I wasn’t all that impressed with their Oatmeal Stout.  Chocolatey, but in a burnt nib way and malty, but in a little bit stay kind of way.
All in all, we loved our experience and the beer was pretty good, but not that upper echelon.  I 100% would do again and recommend. Baby Taipei gets an 8.1 out of 10.

Zhang Men Brewing Company

(Taipei City, Taiwan)

The following day after stumbling upon Jolly Brewery we planned the evening as a self-guided brewery tour; starting with Zhang Men Brewing.  Zhang Men has a few locations now as they were the first craft brewery opened in Taipei. Their Da’an location, in particular, has a tiny, yet very inviting taproom.  There “tap water” also has a great allure.
Shortly after our arrival, they were packed to the gills.  The Editor and I had some killer garlic fries, a flight, and a pint before heading out.
The first sip on the flight was their Fruit Sour.  It was definitely in the sour category and tasted like a berry blend, but I couldn’t get past the copper/tin, vomit finish.  Not a great start.
The second brew was an immediate turnaround.  Mulberry Ale was a bit more like a sour than a fruity ale.  I love mulberries and this one really captured the essence with its tartness balanced by a delicate sweetness.  This was a nice way to forget about what I just had.
Third up was Honey Ale.  I will say this went down more like a mead than an ale, which was a nice surprise.  Many times, to me, honey ales have a bit of a burnt honey flavor and not enough of a sweet, candied honey quality.
Next up was Passion Fruit Ale.  Based on experience drinking as many as I can- it must be very difficult to get passion fruit to come forward in a beer.  Not everyone does, but I love the tartness of passion fruit. It’s very aromatic and in beer form I imagine it to come out almost like another sour.  This one, like many others, was just a ‘meh’ wheat beer that smelled good.
Osmanthus Ale is an ale brewed with osmanthus flowers that grow mainly in Taiwan, but can be found in a few other spots in southeast Asia.  This brew smelled earthy like fresh cut grass and finished on my tongue with peaches and apricots. I always do my best to drink something completely unique like this or a mainstay that I’m really hoping I’ll enjoy like a BBA stout.  This brew was definitely the former and, though it wasn’t my favorite, it was a nice change of pace. If you’re getting bored of the ole standard this one’s worth a look.
The last brew on the flight was a Cream Ale.  This cream ale was smooth, creamy, and slightly sweet and was the perfect way to end our beer-sploration for the day.
Unfortunately, we didn’t end with the cream ale; we had a pint of the West Coast-style IPA.  Hoppy enough, but overly bitter with no other substance.
Overall, we had a great experience at Zhang Men and I am going to block the last beer out of my mind to not sully the flight.  All in all, I give them an 8.8 out of 10.

Jolly Brewery

(Taipei City, Taiwan)

I didn’t even plan for it to work out like this, but we’re really excited about our 100th review article!  1st: It’s amazing that 100 of these even exist and 2nd: To have this one be of a great brewery that adds our 5th country to the list is not something I ever thought we’d be doing 5 years ago.
The first of many stops in Taipei’s emerging brew scene was Jolly Brewing.  Just a stone’s throw from 2/22 Peace Park and the presidential office building- the brewery is in a cool part of town and boasts an industrial/rustic and very inviting atmosphere.  Some soft bread with a peanut, curry dipping sauce and a spicy beef dish with a flight of six really tipped the scales in their favor.
First up was the Weizen.  To start this one is a filtered Weizen that I feel like bucks the trends a little bit and the cloves were strong and a bit overpowering.  Secondly, it has some champagne effervescence behind it like the new string of brett IPAs. Nice work on this one.
You know I don’t like pilsners.  I still drink them because I’m still in search of the best of every beer I’ve ever had, also, duh, why would I waste it?  This pilsner came pretty close.
The Pale Ale was insipid.  Or, shall we say, not very Jolly?
Jolly’s stout had me hoping that a Korean brewer would take the 3-hour flight and take a couple of lessons.  In recent months we’ve had stouts that had decent flavor and absolutely no mouthfeel (I’m talking water) and we’ve had some thick creamy stouts with NO flavor behind them.  This stout wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but after 14 months a poor stout performance, if we lived locally and this wasn’t the first stop on a vacation-activity packed night I would have stayed for 10 and gotten carried out.  This guy was my favorite of the bunch.
The Scotch Ale was sweeter than I’m used to and probably than any Scotsman would be.  The Asian nations we’ve visited thus far seem to have a strong proclivity towards the sweet or savory while bitter falls by the wayside.  That being said its richness kept me hanging on for the last drop.
Lastly, their special release, 2016 Belgian IPA I found very intriguing.  There were characteristics of both, with a light fruitiness at the beginning balanced by a delicate hop finish and a spice backbone throughout, but this was different than others of the style I’ve had.  It wasn’t my favorite on the flight, but it was The Editor’s which makes it worth the trip.
They rounded out the reasons why we loved this brewery with an advertisement urging their patrons that if they buy American beer to make sure the can or bottle has a label supporting independent craft brewers.  All in all, I give Jolly an 8.9 out of 10.
It was also refreshing to see support for #independencematters #independentbeer with Inbev gobbling up every brewer they can this is a great reminder for all of us back home in the US and abroad.
‘Til next time- Ganbei!

Caligari Brewing Company

(Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea)

Our most recent trip to Itaewon for some shopping and food-related purposes yielded an accidental delight.  The menu said established in 2016, but we’ve been to this particular area of the city twice now and I SWEAR I did not see this brewery either of those times.  Regardless, a pretty chill vibe and a nice beer setlist made for an easy decision to pop in. We were heading to dinner after, so we didn’t partake, but they do have what looked like some decent pup-grub options.  I got a flight of 5 of the year-round offerings and The Editor got a seasonal saison release.
The first offering in this cabinet was a sweet-tart of a wheat, citrus bomb named Dr. Filed in Failure.  Though its name has me a bit skeptical of the good doctor it does give me faith in the local brewers.  Not an overly thick wheat, but the fruit forward grapefruit was a nice change of pace with many of the Korean beers on the scene.
Next up was Banana White.  This white ale was an interesting take on the style.  While it was creamy throughout and finished surprisingly tropical it was milky and almost lacked effervescence completely.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, and I think it may be a nod to the typical spiced white ale without overwhelming a Korean’s palate.
The third victim was Saab; session IPA.  I’m not a huge fan of session IPAsin general and  I don’t want to bash them, but I truly don’t get the point.  If all you’re trying to do is drink it to save on alcohol and not get too drunk then I guesssss I get it, but my experience is that the lower ABV of a session IPA tends to be coupled with less flavor.  This one was no different.
Fourth on the list was Incheon Porter.  Much like how the airport with the same name takes me away to sweet escapes, this porter brought me back to a place where the flavor profile and texture actually matter.  The mouthfeel of this porter was thicker than every stout I have had in all of southeast Asia to date and the balance between bitter cocoa and sweet malts was perfection. Seriously well done.
Last up on the flight was Sleepwalking IPA.  Not quite as good as the other beer I’m about to mention, but still a fine brew.  Sleepwalking IPA is very similar to a DFH 90 minute. The sweet and malty while still pungent hop character brought my taste buds to Delaware immediately.  I’m not going to insult them and say I think this was a recipe clone, but if DFH’s a dollar I’d call Sleepwalking a 98 cent version.
At this point, I wish we had stopped with the flight.  We were really happy with 4 out of 5 beers on the flight and the last two, in particular, were fantastic.  Despite being very impressed with Hasey being in a taiku glass (#propperglassware) nothing else with this one was impressive.  A poor attempt at a west coast, piney IPA at best.
Despite ending on a sour note, overall, our Caligari experience was awesome.  Overall, I give them an 8.8 out of 10.

Budnamu Brewery

(Gangneung, South Korea)

I would like to start this article off on a good note. The food here was fantastic! We were a party of six this time around and not one person had a complaint about the food. From sliders to mac n’ cheese and even steak- everything was solid. That being said- if I wanted to go to a trendy spot to get some good eats I would have, but I wanted to go to a brewery. It’s all a bit less fantastic moving forward.
I truly don’t mind waiting a bit when a place is busy- add more when the place is trendy busy- still, an hour-long wait didn’t exactly brighten my mood. Regardless, we ordered some food and our drinks. I got a flight (that I wasn’t able to change) and some killer pulled pork sliders.
Minori Session was flat and flavorless. A session is supposed to mean less alcohol, not less taste.
Zeumeu Blanc was an interesting take on a saison. This was my first saison/farmhouse outside of the states and though, I didn’t love it, I respect the effort. Zeumeu was smooth and slightly tart with a nice breadiness.
I definitely picked up on the slight notes of pine they were going for, but I think they skimped on the ingredients with Pine City Pale Ale.
Ojuck Stout was chocolaty at first, but finished metallic and was paper thin throughout- I really could have done without it.
I would’ve liked to try one of their sours, but by the time food and beer arrived and we finished we were ready to head somewhere else. All in all, I give Budnamu Brewing a 6.4 out of 10. Truthfully, their food is a saving grace, and the reason for the 6.4, particularly if you’re looking for some western grub in a sea of Korean food, but it wasn’t good enough to salvage much more than that.

Kedai Tuak di Lorong Pasar

(Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia)

While wandering the bustling streets of the UNESCO World Heritage city: Georgetown, Penang- we walked from the (Chinese) Clan Jetties all the way to Little India; all while stuffing our faces with world-class food, taking pictures with some famous street art, observing the harmony of an Islamic mosque, Hindu temple, Buddhist temple, and Catholic church all on the same street, and eventually, ending up at the oldest “Toddy” shop on the island.

We strolled into a single room with a caged counter, a motorcycle parked inside, and three guys watching bootleg DVDs of old Baliwood films.  Needless to say, I was instantly drawn into the vibe. I ordered two Toddies that came in, what looked like, the plastic mugs you could dig out of the bottom of a cereal box in the 90s and after a quick prompting to “have a seat boss” just passively reveled in surrounding laughter, a movie I didn’t understand with a 1970’s onomatopoeia fight scene, and a buzz that, at 10-22% abv (no one really knows apparently), came real.  Read More