Thursday, September 20, 2007

Two new beers to recommend

Those who know me know that I like to try potables and comestibles from all over the world — the more exotic, the better. And those who know me also know I’ll sieze any excuse to use a word like “comestibles”, hahae. I mean, this post isn’t even about food! ;) This week, two new countries join my list of beers from around the world. My normal preferences lean toward dark beers, bocks, stouts, porters, and the like, but today I have a couple of lagers to recommend.

Toña — Nicaragua
Toña is a wonderfully mild lager out of Managua. I was going to call it “light”, but I worry that could be confused with so-called light beer, which I never drink — mainly because it isn’t beer :) Toña only made it to American beer aficionados in January of this year, and it’s very welcome as far as I’m concerned. One thing I found interesting is that the malt and hops are American and European; only the well-water (and the brewing process itself, I suppose) is Nicaraguan. It carries a 4.6% alcohol content, and it’s not overcarbonated, so it’s very smooth. It has a little bit of a floral note, too, I think. I’m not sure whether they’ve added any flowers or herbs (e.g., coriander) to the mix, as some brewers will do, but it’s a very nice beer. It compares favorably with other lagers of the region. One thing I found amusing was that, according to the bottle, Toña comes to Texas supermarkets by way of Washington state. That’s a little out of the way, isn’t it?

Czechvar — Czech Republic
Considering that I’m one quarter Czech myself, it may be surprising that I haven’t tried any Czech beer until now. Well, actually, in a way, I have, since Shiner and other Texas beers still use techniques brought to Texas by Czech immigrants (of which there are still many small communities — e.g., Shiner, TX, itself). There’s even a Czech Heritage Society of Texas. In any case, Czechvar is a very nice, very drinkable lager, with a 5% alcohol content. I could almost believe it’s the pivo červený (“red beer”) of which my grandmother used to sing as a girl — to judge by their folksongs, the Czechs have their priorities right! — except that it’s pale gold in color. They brew it in České Budějovice in the Southern Bohemian region of the country, and I believe this may be my first beer from Eastern Europe.

Other countries whose beer(s) I’ve tried include:

• Australia
• Austria
• Argentina
• Belgium
• Belize
• Brazil
• Canada
• Chile
• China
• Czech Republic
• Costa Rica
• Denmark
• El Salvador
• England
• France
• Germany
• Guatemala
• Honduras
• India
• Ireland
• Italy
• Jamaica
• Japan
• Lithuania
• Mexico
• Netherlands
• New Zealand
• Nicaragua
• Peru
• Poland
• Phillipines
• Russia
• Scotland
• Singapore
• Spain
• Sri Lanka
• Tasmania
• Thailand
• Tibet
• Trinidad and Tobago
• Turkey
• Vietnam
• Zimbabwe

Counting the United States, that puts me up to 44 countries.

Am I forgetting some? Probably. I feel like I’ve had one or two others from Central and South America, but I’m blanking. And if you count things that are beer-like, but not actually beer, then I could add Nigeria and Ethiopia to the list. I should keep a real list, I suppose (I mean, a list that’s on the outside of my brain :). Are there any international beers that any of you can recommend? I also look for microbrews inside the U.S., but that’s a post for another day.

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