One of the things that always [explicit] annoys me is how so little people know about beer. Even in beer commercials, beer has turned into a frat boy's toy. Think about that [explicit] for a moment. A frat boy loves pizza. You can give him a dish of frittata and a plate of pizza and he'll devour it just the same. How many of you reading this even know what a frittata is? Google it. No, wait, I'll just save you the time and tell you it's a very expensive omelette. What's my [explicit] point? I'll tell you my [explicit] point. The people who make beer? They're artists. Even Budweiser is an artist. When you're drinking Budweiser, you're drinking someone's finished canvas served in a perfect combination of hops and malts. There is a [explicit] Bud Light commercial these days that talk about triple hops. Triple hops, man. That's [explicit] gorgeous for convenience store beer. I asked everyone at my bar, any of you clowns know what a hop is? No one knew [explicit]. But they're sure experts at guzzling beer off a plastic hose. What has this world turned to? I [explicit] give up.
Anyway. I don't give a [explicit]. Or maybe I do. Just this once, maybe I do. Okay, listen up. Today we're going to learn the basics of judging beer. To make this Asian-related we're going to use this knowledge to find out which Asian country has the best beer. You don't have to like Asian beer to take something from today's column, but I just don't want you to be another douchebag in society who doesn't know jack [explicit] about beer. You know, this may surprise you, but sometimes it's possible to have intellectual conversations in a bar and it helps with a right knowledge for beer. Come on, contribute something to society for once. [Explicit] it.
When you're judging beer, you want to use three of your five senses: Sight, smell and, of course, taste. How a beer look says a helluva a lot about it. Does it have carbonation? One minute after it's poured, if you don't see bubbles still in that thing, dump that [explicit] out. You're not drinking beer. You're drinking piss. If you see crap floating around in it, dump it in. Again, it's ain't beer, it's piss. Finally, the color. Depending on what type of beer it is, it could be clear, yellow, brown or even pitch black. Some of the fruity ones are pink. Looks just like a gradient bar in art class. So what's what? Glad you [explicit] asked. The more malts are added, the darker the beer and the heavier the taste. So the light beer that your girlfriend drinks is going to be bright yellow. And the syrupy stouts that your alcoholic uncle consumes is pitch black. The darker the color, the more bitter the taste. If you raise your glass into the light, you should be able to see if the color matches the taste. If you find the taste very [explicit] bitter and the [explicit]'s color is yellow, something's wrong. That's [explicit] piss you're drinking.
For smelling your beer, you don't smell it off the side of your glass at a 45-degree angle like a snobbish [explicit] smelling his wine. Instead, you put that [explicit] cup up to your face and you smell. Don't sniff. Smell. Know the [explicit] difference? Four whiffs and your nose is going to lose all its senses, so don't go beyond that [explicit]. Now what you're smelling for is stink, or lack of. Stink is bad, and if it smells like [explicit] it's bad, rotten beer. You should be able to smell and identify the actual ingredients. If you're finding yourself saying "hey I smell pine" or "I smell peanuts", that's [explicit] good. Beers are made from wheat, rice, oats, pine, nuts, rye, barley and corn. You're supposed to be able to smell those things out with ease.
Okay, taste. Before you taste beer, eat something that will neutralize your taste buds. Crackers are best for this. What you wanna taste for is the balance. I just told you that darker beers indicate more malts, light beers indicate more hops. Hops taste gentle while malts taste earthy. You want to taste for balance...balance between the amount of hops or malts, yeast, water and alcohol. You should never be able to taste too much alcohol in beer. Beer is not vodka. The alcohol should be disguised in there. The forefront should be the malts or hops (depending on the beer), followed by the yeast, water and then the alcohol. In that order, never out of that order. And finally, I would say most importantly, the beer's got to have good aftertaste. Bad beer can taste good until seconds after you swallow it. Then you'll realize you've either had some damn good beer or you've drank piss. And if you just drank piss, you'll make a bitter beer face. One more thing, ALWAYS TASTE BEER WARM and POURED INTO A GLASS.
You [explicit]in' got it?
Let's discuss which is the best Asian country for beer...I'll give you a hint, it's not Vietnam.
In Asia, two countries are well known for beer: China and Japan. As a whole, much like World Cup Soccer, Asia isn't very good comparing to the rest of the world when it comes to making beer. European beer is excellent. I'm going to say that right now, Asian beer isn't even in the same class with the exception of Asahi. And here's another thing. Korea may be a major country in Asia, but they sure as hell make some [explicit] beer. I don't know how the hell that the Asian country with the most beer tolerance doesn't manufacture good beer. Thirdly, Russia doesn't count as an Asian country in this discussion.
There are 47 Asian countries not counting Russia. 45 of them aren't worth talking about. But to make this fair, I'll lump several southeastern Asian countries into one category. So we have three contenders: China, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
- SOUTHEAST ASIA -
333 beer is the Coors of Asia. That's not a compliment. First thing you'll notice is that after pouring 333 into a glass, the foam dissolves quickly. The taste is unbalanced and what you'll find lacking is a good amount of alcohol. [Explicit]. 333 can't get you drunk. It's cheap beer. 333 is a really bad beer brewed from Vietnam. Worse than 333 is Tiger Beer from Singapore. Pure [explicit]. Very watery and I've always had trouble smelling the hops. For a beer that bright yellow, there should be plenty of hops, but what I see and what I smell and taste don't [explicit] match. This only tells me one thing: the light color is not made from hops but from water. Of course, Tiger Beer is very cheap too, so there's another clue.
Now before you think I'm just ragging on crap beer from Southeast Asia, there is one major beer that did it right: Singha beer from Thailand. Singha is one [explicit] balanced beer. It's dark-yellow orangy. It's got terrific amounts of hops and barley. If you didn't see the label and just used your sight, smell and taste, you'll think Singha is German. And I [explicit] mean that as a compliment! For many years, Singha was known for something more: it's strong alcohol at 6.2%, but they've since dropped it to 5%. Singha's strong, good tasting and really is one of the top two or three Asian beers.
- CHINA -
China's most famous beer is Tsingtao. Tsingtao smells like [explicit]. There's a foul odor that indicates the use of cheap ingredients and possible mismanagement of storaging from the manufacturing plant it comes from. What's worse is that you can't smell any of the seperation between the ingredients in the beer. All you taste is [explicit] [explicit] [explicit]. As a pale lager, it absolutely fails. Total lack of hops despite its light colors. Yanjing beer is a little better. You can at least smell and seperate the ingredients from it. The color looks healthy enough, but it just [explicit] doesn't pass the taste test. It's a little too sweet, almost like malt liquor. But the worse one is straight from Guangzhou called Zhu Jiang. I'll spare the formal reviewing process and just describe it as dishwasher soap. Yeah it's good that the foam lasts after the pouring, but it doesn't dissolve. The aftertaste is horrible, just [explicit] horrible. There's a strong, unhealthy moonshine kick to it. Visually, it's an ugly beer. Lumps of crap everywhere, nothing smooth about it after it's poured into the glass. Don't ever [explicit] with Zhu Jiang beer. This stuff was made from some Chinese backwoods. Unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
- JAPAN -
Now Japan! Japan makes some decent beer! Asahi is the cream of the crop, best beer from Asia by a mile. Visually, it looks very pretty coming out of the bottle. It glows well held towards the light, and depending on what type it is, it fits the right color. Asahi Brewmaster is perfectly reddish-brown. Asahi Super Dry Draft is a crisp kind of bright yellow. No matter where you are, Asahi comes out looking like it's fresh out of a photoshoot. Just a really pretty [explicit] kind of beer. No [explicit]. The bubbles linger around...the smell indicates the hops wonderfully...the taste is balanced. It's the only Asian beer that can hold its own against Western European beer. It won't beat them, but it holds its own. It's definitely better than American beer, even Shiner. Another decent Japanese beer is Kirin. Now Kirin is also pretty good, but it's a level behind Asahi. Why? Somewhat watery, exceedingly light in texture, foam dissolves a bit quickly. Don't get me wrong it tastes [explicit] great, but the aftertaste doesn't stick as much as Asahi. Still, a very good beer, and I'll forgive that it's actually brewed in England and it's not a real lager. It goes with most meals, so I can't [explicit] complain. Aside from those two, Sapporo is okay as Japanese beers. Sapporo exceeds expectations with aftertaste, which is a big deal for me for the actual taste isn't memorable. There's no wow factor comparing to Asahi's taste. But I'd take Sapporo over any beer from China. The only bad beer from Japan is Suntory. Fake [explicit] beer. Extremely dry and light, with cases of bitter beer face. Avoid Suntory.
It's pretty obvious that Japan has the best Asian beer. Not surprising since they [explicit] have almost the best everything in Asia. Want my advice? Don't drink beer from Asia except Asahi.
As always, I've armed you with knowledge. I've empowered you. You have no excuses now to pick Tsingtao beer over a Miller Lite. Experience the world with even clearer insight in 15 days when I talk about whatever they hell I decide to talk about next. Life is short, get yourself [explicit] wasted. That's your homework. Class dismissed!