Tsingtao

A simple beer deserves simple sentences.

I give you Liquan:

Liquan is a beer. China is a country. Liquan is a beer from China. China has 22 provinces. Bottled in Guilin. Hops are lacking. Foam is ok. Taste is subjective. Liquan is acceptable. Hangover’s are honest. A billion people. No hand-drying facilities. Not one. God is dead.

A phenomenal beer deserves an eloquent rhapsody.

I give you nothing

 A shit beer deserves a shit yarn.

I give you Tsingtao.

Legend has it that ancient brewers in the east Tibetan mountains were trying to recreate the healing powers of dragon’s urine. They searched for thousands of years, experimenting, artists masquerading as gods. Fermented goat’s milk, bottled with the waters of a naturally carbonated spring, drawn only on the fourth moon after the birthday of the eldest remaining shoe in the region. The bark of the oolong tree, thrice passed through a hawks body.  Three and a half cups of high fructose corn syrup. (1)

The legend runs that the brew was mastered, and inscribed on a goat horn. Alas, in 1846, when trusted with the transport most important recipe of eastern antiquity, Richard Smith Esq. travelling on an overnight train got drunk. Smith, too inebriated to use the squatter properly fell over when the train hit a bump, losing the horn and his favourite trackpants to boot. On arrival to the brewery he sort of made it up and we have been left with the result today. (1)

The brew has remained largely unchanged since.

I recently spent some time in Yangshuo, prettiest town in all the world. I was lucky enough to lay eyes on the most gorgeous tall blonde in a currywurst stand. I was awe struck, dumbfounded. Then, as the locks fanned out, bouncing, as the owner glided around, currywurst in both hands. I waited with bated breath. It was released in a disappointed sigh. The hair belonged to a 55 year old skinny, tattooed German man (with a crippling Schwarzkopf addiction.

In short; good head, shit body, just like Tsingtao

Taste can vary depending on a number of things like vessel type, relative spice of whatever was just eaten, bottling location etc etc. Notably though, the hops are pretty good. It ends up being being a touch more bitter than most Asian style lagers. Sadly though, when all is said and done it’s about as middle of the road as a bus hurtling towards shanghai airport in rush-hour traffic.

Alcohol lacks a bit of enthusiasm. Its nearly there. So nearly. It’s kind of like a texting Go-Go girl. Yeah, she’s there. And yeah, If I can’t call swaying dancing, then I’ve never danced in my life. But deep down you know, a texting girl is a Slow-Slow, not a Go-Go. And a 4.3% is a Slow-Slow kind of beer.

Hangovers can be pretty bad, largely due to the bottle size. It’ll put you in the sort of intellectual state where you’d breeze through any type of cultural revolution unscathed.

All this being said, my memories of this beer marr my ability to be a fair arbiter of judgement. My heart aches for from the good times had for years in cheap ‘Sichuan’ restaurants, where mispronounced orders still make it to the table. It’s probably just reflux, but perhaps I’m a touch sentimental and think it’s a little better than it is.

This beer is taking over the world (not entirely on its own merit, but still…). Take the time to walk to your local bottle shop and grab yourself a jade box, crack the top, smash a plate of dumplings and enjoy a couple of bottles of world-famous dragon piss.

Rating:

6.5/10.

If this beer tried to jump Tiger leaping gorge, it wouldn’t make it. It would valiantly hit the other side of the gorge before the water, but it’s not making it.

Reference

Unknown et al. “A poorly translated history of the Naxi people” Overheard in a bar vol 6. 2019 pg 759-773.

Tsingtao at Tiger Leaping Gorge

Larue

A Larue bia, Ho Chi Minh City, French Quarter (Saigon).

Bia Larue vietnam. est 1909.

Victor Laure is one of the principal antagonists in the show’ Walker, Texas Ranger’, a seminal series from the mind of our generation, Chuck Norris. Between 1997 and 1999 the show reached a zenith during its sixth and seventh seasons, seen by an average of 14.4 million spectators per evening, taking Walker Texas Ranger to be one of the most popular series in the USA . This is also the namesake of the Frenchman who first brewed the Larue in the back of the french quarter of Saigon in the middle of May 1909. The parallels between the show and the beer end here.

Heineken (who now manufacture this brew) state that the ingredients are imported from both England and Australia. I am suspicious that they may have ride share set up with the prolific amount of tourists from these areas, in order to keep costs down.

Condensation on a cold can is liberal, akin to the sheen you get after eating a spicy pho in 35 degree heat. It tastes better from a glass bottle, better yet is the second one. The carrying capacity in a session is around 8 -9 Larues, largely due to all cafes reverting the inferior un-chilled version at that point.

Head: Think of Hoi An waves hitting a 55 year old sunburnt Englishman. Overall, a foamy finish, but not something you would call clean. Slightly bigger than what you would prefer and not something you need to spend your time looking at. Golden in colour, with a slight malty aroma, once again reminding us of George from East Sussex. (once he has gotten the sunblock sorted)

Larue has about as much tastes like a still fresh ‘h e a v e n‘ tattoo on the back of the arm of an 18 year old Swedish backpacker (likely named Ana) who will ‘totally not regret it’ after she found herself on a 2 day booze cruise in Ha Long Bay. The flavour duration is highly reminiscent of the degree of attention you get from waiter in the back street bun cha place (short, to non-existent).

Like a lot of South-East Asian beers, this is very much in the traditional lager style which suits hot muggy afternoons, and the smell of a million two stroke engines. The hops have about as much kick as the drums during the first 1:49 of the skream remix of the song by that La roux chick.  At a mild 4.2% you will need a fair few of these to light up the dance floor like a hoi an lantern.

This cold drop goes down faster the price of the ‘genuine’ Ray Bans when you walk away first offer for $20,  both Ray Bans and a 6 pack of these bad boys will set you back  $2. Don’t get scammed, stay safe out there you intrepid souls.

Hangovers are not one to rue, only helped by the ease of access of Cà phê Sài Gòn. Larues are priced cheaper than water and can be found in pretty much every single shop in the country.

If you come to Viet Nam to find yourself, find this beer first. It’ll be more honest with you than you’ll ever be.


9/10, nothing phenomenal in terms of flavour, but perfect for hot afternoons. Aggressive pricing only helps the cause.

Enjoying a Larue on the Thu Bon River.