Category Archives: Beer


La Brasserie Pirate Pale Ale

Well, is this lovely? When you are me and your life is weird, one day you may wake up on a boat in the south of France. Today I find myself in Arles and I’m wandering down the street and there’s a bookshop that also advertises 100 local craft beers. Tres bien! So I walk away with this fine bottle of Avignon Pale Ale from La Brasserie Pirate.

What’s it like? Why, it’s delightful! Unlike our Zing! Pow! hop-heavy IPA’s in the Pacific Northwest, this has the lighter floral character Belgian beer fans will recognize. It’s also a cloudy beer bottled on lees. It’s just slightly sweet with low carbonation.

I like it and I think you will too.

More Beer in Saigon

And so, we continue our tour through beer available here in Ho Chi Mihn City.   Here we have Blue Cap from Sapporo (Japan), Tiger Crystal (Vietnam) and Huda (Vietnam).

They’re all pretty much budweiser, which is fine given the heat and humidity here. I did enjoy the Blue Cap a bit more than other versions of Bud, but it’s hard to really properly nerd-test these things while also eating kimchee.  But that’s the way it’s supposed to be drunk anyway, right?

Huda wins the award for the most interesting can.  It comes very close to having not one word of English on it.  Appears to be brewed by Carlsberg Vietnam.

Saturday we took the Apple Dumpling Gang out for Dim Sum, shopping and chocolate.

Me in front of An Dong Market. If you go up to the third floor there’s numerous stalls with good nick-nacks to bring back. It’s far lower key than Ben Thanh Market. Feel free to haggle a little bit to keep your bargaining skills strong.

The House That Chocolate Bars Built:

Maison Marou

Maison Marou makes fine French-style chocolates using beans grown in Vietnam.  One word – YUM.  Stop in and get some drinking chocolate.

Yep.  Tasty, tasty macarons. This plate set me back about $3.50.

Noah settling into a nice dark chocolate high.

Here Trevor takes a break from bugging me to play Minecraft for a quick photo in my hat.

Noah’s youngest.  She’s a cutie!

BiaCraft Artisan Ales, Ho Chi Mihn City

“But this is a wine blog!” you may say.  But it’s not really.  It’s a beverage blog… but it’s more than that.  It’s an experience blog.  Sure, once and a while you’ll get a beverage that’s authentically bad-tasting, but mostly “taste” is what you like, and that’s subjective.   We like to write about what it’s like and sometimes what it means.

BiaCraft Artisan Ales

Friendly staff, when I stepped out of the cab in a downpour I was greeted by a smiling young lady with a very large umbrella.

They seem to have turned to South Park for inspiration on anything with a name here.

  • Itty Bitty Chicken Titties = grilled chicken breast
  • Don’t F*ck With Me Pale Ale (they sold out of this)
  • No Cookie No Nookie Oreo Cream Stout
  • F*cking Liar India Summer Ale (medium body, some hints of spices, refreshing)
  • The Jonah Falcondog Foursome = meter long hot dog “done four ways” (whatever that means)

I managed to order the least healty meal I’ve had not only in Vietnam, but the least healthy thing I’ve eaten in months.  Grilled sausage and french fries.  The french fries were pretty damn good, especially for a country that has no business growing potatos.  My “Beef Injection Sausage” (300g southern spiced link, says the menu) came quite pink in the middle still, which is not generally how you want sausage, so using Google Translate I sent it back.  The waitron came back from the kitchen and told me the Chef thought it was cooked correctly, but they could cook it a few more minutes for me.  When it returned, as far as I could tell it hadn’t been heated by anything more serious than the cook’s explitives about damn customers and I decided to give up and eat it.  This place servers lots of westerners and seems to have a good rep.

If I die, tell my wife I love her.

This place is known for it’s wide selection of local craft brews, of which there are a surprisingly large selection.  If you’re missing the USA they even have beer from (one of my former clients) Rogue Ales and Anderson Valley.  Also, fine brews from France, Australia, Japan and a couple other far-away places.

The BiaCraft brews are light compared to what we drink back in the Pacific Northwest, but pretty much every beer is light compared to what we drink in the land where hops are grown.  That said, this Wildberry Wheat could duke it out with any craft beer anywhere for flavor and quality.

After so many decades of war (kicked out the French, kicked out the yanks, then fought off the Cambodians and the Chinese) and it’s clear they are very hungry to join the modern world.  I get the sense that they are looking at Singapore, Japan, etc and thinking we want what you have!

Ask your server for more information.  Or Don’t.  Whatever.


What’s In Your Fridge?

Hello again from Ho Chi Mihn City, while we continue our tour or locally available beverages.  What do we have today?

Zorok Lager Beer - made somewhere in Vietnam… or maybe not.  I can’t read any of the local languages.
Gauden Schwarzbier -  from the Red Rock Brewing Company in Singapore

I’ll keep this simple.  Zorok is another local example of Budweiser.  Given the climate here, that’s pretty much what you want anyway.  The Gauden?  It’s quite good.  An excellent example of a schwarzbier with all that yummy dark beer flavors but not heavy like a stout.

My favorite comment on their facebook page:

Black and loose mineral dynamics (do not have to increase the movement) :)) ♥ ♥ ♥

What more could you want?

Some more photos of street scenes in Ho Chi Mihn City:

Heater Allen

The stars finally aligned and we able to darken the towels at Heater Allen Brewing in McMinville.

The crowd pleasing brews today: Yeti Topper and Schwartzbier. Yes, the Yeti Topper is a takeoff on the Heady Topper from Alchemist in Vermont. My friends and relations who’ve spent time in Vermont treasure this above all other beers.  I’m not trying to cause a fight with them.  I have not lived through a Vermont winter, so what do I know?  What I *do* know is the Yeti Topper is yummy.  Go have one!

Heater Allen

Here’s brewer Lisa Allen allowing us to handle her prized Octoberfest mugs and generally act silly for the camera.  It’s a family affair there.  The name comes from Lisa’s mom’s maiden name + Lisa’s dad’s maiden name.  Clever!

Good beer and a friendly informal vibe in their tasting room.  Be sure to stop by if you’re in McMinville!

Now, the real reason why we were out there:

wine barrel

That’s right.  Joyce bought a wine barrel from the good people at Remy Wines, right next door to Heater Allen.

Sadly, the wine was not included.

Antares Cerveza Artesanal

Hello travelers, you’ll be glad to know you can find good beer in Buenos Aires:


These guys started home brewing, and just couldn’t help themselves.  Now they have a network of pubs.  We visited the one in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires:

Antares Buenos Aires

Hey, guess what?  These guys do a great job!  The pub is airy, comfy and friendly.  The food we had was toothsome, and the beers well crafted and dialed into their individual styles.  The people who put this place together spent the effort and have the love to make all the pieces work.  First class, all the way!


Iñaki samples a few…


Marc abides…


tasty eats…

Some tasting notes for you.  Something for everyone here.

  • Helles
    • Nice “lite” beer – good summertime drink perhaps a bit grassy-vegital.
  • Playa Grande
    • Happy wheat beer!  Cloudy, and a little bitter.
  • Kolsch
    • Clean, mildly malty. Quite tasty.
  • Honey Beer
    • Clean and a little sweet – 7.5%.  Strong.
  • IPA
    • Clean, a slight bitter bite – fortunately not as crazy bitter as many of our portland beers – better balanced I believe.  Marc says he feels it is a bit sour.  Iñaki says Argentinian IPA’s tend to be a bit sour.
  • Scotch
    • Not as strong as many scotch ales – but good flavor and nice light malty after taste.
  • Barley Wine
    • You bet, this is a barely wine.  Marc says it has a creamy mouth feel, slightly bitter finish.
  • Porter
    • Nice choco-malt finish, caramel flavor.  Somewhat lighter body than other porters.
  • Cream Stout
    • “Wow, it’s like coffee” says Marc.  Low carbonation N2O, very similiar to Guiness in flavor and mouthfeel.
  • Imperial Stout
    • Dark heavy malts, you could take a bath in them!

Buenos Aires Part II

Our brief tour of bottled beer and vintage LP’s in Buenos Aires continues…


Quilmes 1890

“Una cerveza rubia de color dorado, cuerpo y delicioso sabor intenso” or so reads the bottle.  I guess you could say it’s got a golden color, but an intense flavor…? only in comparison to Quilmes’ mainline beers which appear to be the Budweiser of Argentina.  The price is 25 pesos for a liter, with a 5 peso deposit on the bottle.  I’d turn this one down, there’s better stuff on the shelf next to it for the same price.

12 Rounds of Exitos

Given all the song titles in Spanish on the jacket I thought I was getting something local, but this turns out to be a disk of late 60’s early 70’s US pop.  Some of it familiar, some forgotten.  Not a great purchase, but at least it came with an entertaining jacket.

Buenos Aires Part I

Welcome to Buenos Aires. I brought along my portable LP player and bought some vintage LP’s.  Here’s some reviews:

Imperial Scotch Ale and Edmundo Rivero

24 pesos for a liter in an old-school returnable bottle.  That works out to barely more than $2 USD.  Dark, malty and a little sweet. It’s a good beer.

A strong manly voice to go with these tangos.  For listening, not so much dancing. Quality stuff.  I don’t know squat about vintage tango.  I picked this disc out of the stacks based solely on what I would expect from the jacket if it were a US product.  I must have done well because the grumpy old guy in the shop lightened up and became friendlier when I pulled out something he approved of.

Palermo Cerveza Rubia and Tangos Michel Delon



This was tasty and refreshing, slightly malty with bright carbonation.  A pleasant amber ale.  So far beers in Argentina tend towards malty instead of hoppy.  Also only 24 pesos for a liter! (aka, about $2 USD as of March 2015)

The record – usually if you need a hootchie-kootchie girl on your record jacket it means your music isn’t selling itself.  This disk isn’t bad, pretty much standard stuff though recording quality seems a bit off.