Tag Archives: pineapple

An exchange

A roadside stall in Kalaw, displaying dozens of dust bottles, gleaming in the dwindling sunlight.  The sky is grey-blue in the east, cinnamon in the west; it is a gloomy, but dignified wet-season sunset.  I screech to a halt in the slush, position the front doors of my beige hatchback over dry, rather than wet, mud and hoist my longyi.  Albert follows as I assess the area.

“Pineapple wine? Apple wine? Plum wine?” I ask, pointing to the array of bottles.  A young boy scurries out from the gloom within the stall nodding.  “What’s that one?” I ask, pointing to a bottle with more dust than usual, obscuring the writing and image on the label.  The boy replies with a word I don’t understand.  We go back and forth until realisation dawns: damson.

“Do you know who makes this wine?” I ask.  The boy doesn’t know.

“Where do you buy these from?” I ask.  The boy doesn’t know.

“Is it a company or a family?” I ask.  The boy stares at me.

“Is this all you have?” I ask.  The boy hesitates, then ducks inside.  He is gone twenty seconds.  Yes, that’s all they have.

I ask Albert, my partner in wine business, which he would prefer.  An enthusiastic drinker, he declares that they all sound wonderful.

“We’ll buy one of each.”

The boy calls out and is joined by another, older teenager, who looks around for something.  He pulls out six gleaming white cardboard bottle bags, the kind ubiquitous in Australian and high-end Yangon bottleshops, and carefully puts each of the dusty, dirty, aged bottles into their own crisp, clean gift bag.  As he does so, I go through the basics.

“Do you drink wine?” I ask.  The boy does not.

“Do you drink beer?” I ask.  The boy does not.

“How about cigarettes?” I ask.  The boy thinks for a moment, and then says no.

A motorcycle splutters past.  Then another.  Kalaw’s rhythms are foreign to me, but it is a town of domestic migrants, of opportunity and of tourists.  I can categorise it: and Albert and I at least fit in here, there is a role to play, unlike many other idiosyncratic villages and towns across the country, down potted roads and one-lane “highways”.

The sun descends.  Cinnamon turns to peach.

We load the boot of the Kia up with our mysterious wine, pay and leave.

Rogue Brutal IPA

Rogue Ales need no introduction. They haunt the United States like a spectre, appearing here, there and everywhere, dominating conversations, elbowing out Barbarians, Bards and Wizards with beard yeast, peanut butter beers and Brutal IPAs.

This 6.3% beer, which must be Rogue’s 250th variety of IPA, is a lusciously luminescent mandarin colour with moderate head and carbonation. It reeks of citrus, orange muscling in over pineapple and sweet sugar syrup. It’s smooth, thick and tannic, with a big bitter bite backing up a deliciously warm, gluggy brioche malt cocktail. Hop flavour peeks out here and there but the blanket of malt wins out. Nice.

I bought a pint of this beer at Rossi’s Bar, Chicago, IL. This tiny place had possibly the blandest bartender I’ve ever encountered, tinged with an edge of seething hostility. Quite something. Definitely affected how the beer tasted and the atmosphere as a whole, which I didn’t mind really as I was only stopping in. So much for the friendly Midwest!

Kona Big Wave Golden Ale

The Kona Brewing Company is a Hawaiian brewery, originally a family-run operation, and the beer in this post has pedigree, going all the way back to 1995. The fact that a Hawaiian beer is being served by keg in Minnesota does jar a little: they brew substantially on the mainland, though will always call “The Big Island” home. Operations go on in Portland, Oregon, Woodinville, Washington, Memphis, Tennessee, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

This Golden Ale rests peacefully in the glass, straw-gold yellow, completely sans head but quite carbonated. The aroma is characterised by hops, hops and more hops: equal parts pineapple slam, grapefruit crush and deliciously tart citrus. Underneath, the headless ale is dry, thin and spritzy, but this does nothing to help the flat, insipid flavours. Apple and malt shake coexist at low levels with an equally marginal bitterness.

It’s drinkable and fault-free but hardly a winner.

I had a pint of this uninspiring draught beer at Port 104 Bar-Grill and Bowling, Lake City, Minnesota. It was a fairly done-up family-style bar with bowling lanes, a pool table, lots of seating and early closing hours. Lake City is not exactly a drink-party town; more a wholesome-party town. But I am getting old so that’s fine with me.

Wig & Pen Sequoia

What a pleasure it is to be doing a beer tasting again for the blog, even more so that the beer in question is from an old favourite brewpub of mine, the Wig & Pen in Canberra. This establishment can be characterised as “the Australian Capital Territory’s most enduring brewpub” and moved locations recently from its CBD base to the School of Music on the campus of the Australian National University. I am studying at ANU now , so this suits me just fine. The ability to get consistent, delicious, uniquely brewed beer in a variety of styles on campus is simply unrivalled.

Not to mention the friendly brewers, owner and staff!

I usually drink the Wig & Pen’s Australian Pale Ale (dubbed the “Kool-Aid”) but there was none on tap for this visit, so I went with the Sequoia, an American Amber Ale. It poured a brown-to-maroon caramel colour with a delicate white head that retained minimally, dissipating in about five minutes. Clarity was extreme, clear as glass even at this heavy EBC. The aroma was restrained, but spoke of mango, pineapple and lollies. A bunch of American aroma hops definitely floated for a while in this wort and beer.

A medium-thin mouthfeel was unexpected but refreshing, providing a watery background of mildly crystalesque pancake malt to a bracing, fresh hop bitterness. A distinct bitter bite is pleasurable in the aftertaste. For an American Amber the Sequoia is very accessible and clean – you could be fooled that it is a lager – and I was assured by the bar staff that it is a popular choice with drinkers because of it. Sitting in the sun on a clear day like today, it lulled me in, tempted me for another, but I resisted. Responsibilities, you know.

I bought this draught beer at the Wig & Pen, Canberra