A while back the BBC posted a feature titled “50 things to eat before you die” and I thought at the time that this would make a good topic for beer. So in the spirit of adventure and living life to the fullest, etc. etc., I’m coming up with the 50 beers to drink before you die, in ten weekly installments listing five beers each (in no particular order, other than whatever theme I fit them into).
We’re closing in on the end here. This week I wanted to get away from the Western European-North American centrism that dominates beer, and explore a few from around the world. So this week’s theme is “Around the World.”
There are a number of Sapporo-brand beers from Japan, but the one I’m referring to here is the classic “Premium Beer” that is widely available here in the United States in the curvy-shaped can. BeerAdvocate indicates the style is that of a “Japanese Rice Lager,” similar to the “American Macro” lager but brewed with a larger percentage of rice.
Japanese beers in general tend toward the lighter, rice-or-other adjunct lager styles, and Sapporo is a good and accessible example. Be that as it may, though, I’ll be brutally honest: you won’t be impressed with this beer if you’re used to the craft beer scene. But, as the title of this series indicates, it’s certainly one you should drink at least once, and it’s a good bellwether of what beer is doing in Japan.
BeerAdvocate score: 74/100, 37% approval.
Sheaf Stout (Australia)
I suppose when one thinks of Australian beers, popular culture leads them to Foster’s. I rather think Sheaf Stout is a better exposure to the land down under. A little harsher and grittier than the more “refined” stouts of the West, it’s still a good example of the Foreign/Sweet Stout category (which admittedly can be a bit nebulous).
And, something about this beer says “Outback” to me, and seems a better embodiment of Australia than all of those lager offerings.
BeerAdvocate score: 84/100, 92% approval.
Flying Horse Royal Lager (India)
For it’s size and population, there is very little in the way of native beer and brewing happening in India. As seems to be common among East Asian brewing, Flying Horse is a lager in the “American Macro” style, although as I reviewed here, it’s a darker, grainier version of the style.
BeerAdvocate score: 76/100, 64% approval.
Another of the ubiquitous lagers, though Singha bills itself as “the most exotic beer in the world.” While I’m leery about any beer that tries to claim that—especially one of this type—I do advocate this as a Must Try.
Some of the reviews out there indicate that this would be an excellent accompaniment to Thai cuisine—so if you can find it at your local Thai restaurant, give it a shot.
BeerAdvocate score: 74/100, 52% approval.
Baltika Porter (Russia)
Baltic Porter is to “regular” Porter as India Pale Ale is to “regular” Pale Ale—that is, a stronger, more robust beer designed to survive ocean-crossing voyages to get to their destinations. Baltika #6 Porter is one of the better-known beers to come out of Russia and a decent example of the style. Michael Jackson wrote about it after a trip to St. Petersburg:
Baltika Porter has an ebony colour; an alcohol content of 7.0, from an original gravity of 1068; and a woody aroma, with oily, creamy, fudgy, toffeeish, juicy, flavours. It is soft and lightly dry. This beer, too, contains crystal, and some carbonised malt.
BeerAdvocate score: 84/100, 94% approval.