Tag Archives: stout

The Golden Palace


The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is a chance for the world’s beer bloggers  to get together once a month and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.

Deep Beer is hosting The Session #128 for October 2017. The theme chosen is Bottle Shops: Good, Bad & The Ugly.

So, here I am about to contribute my second (or is it third?) piece to the enjoyable conflagration of beerness that is The Session.  I thought that a reflection on my local bottle shop here in Yangon (Rangoon), Burma, might stand as an interesting counterpoint to most of the other pieces in the round-up.

So there it is – the Golden Palace, a hole-in-the-wall bottle shop on the corner of 46th St and Bogyoke Rd in downtown Rangoon.  Easy to walk past – doesn’t look like much, does it?  But this deceptively small cave has plenty of goodies within.  Let’s peer inside, past the Heineken Regal Seven branding…

As you enter the three-metre squared room the configuration is clear: on your right are whiskeys and liqueurs, on your left are wines, vodkas and domestic liquor, and in the fridge and at the back is beer.  The selection of spirits is impressive for Burma – they are all illegally (or given the volume of trade, perhaps “informally”) imported.

Because of the tax on  spirits here any of these bottles sells for substantially cheaper than in my home, Australia.  On this visit I picked up a bottle of Jameson’s for AU$18 which at home would run AU$35 or more.  The big American bourbons go for much less.

But a 700ml bottle of 40%ABV Myanmar whiskey sells for US$1-5, so even though the foreign whiskeys are cheap, the locals tend to opt for the Burma-distilled stuff unless they’re showing off.

I have asked the owner to get in some Bushmills several times to no avail.  Because he relies on border traders for stock, the variety of import supply is entirely out of his hands.  They can’t just order something different; they are presented with options, and they choose accordingly.

There is one particular thing I value this bottle shop for: it has Hoegaarden.  I haven’t come across witbier at any bottle-o other than the Golden Palace, anywhere in Myanmar.  So when I crave that orange peel and coriander, I sidle up to the Palace and buy out their stock.  A single bottle goes for US$2.  I can’t vouch for their freshness but none have ever been undrinkable.

They use a simple notepad and pen for keeping track of sales at the Golden Palace.  The space is so very small, but because labour is cheap there are usually at least two people working at any one time.  Unlike other bottle shops, they’re never drinking on the job.

On this visit, one boy was sitting and hammering flat ring-pulls from Dagon beer cans on the concrete ground.  When I asked what he was doing in Burmese, he replied, “lucky draw”.  He was preparing the ring pulls to send back to the brewery for cash redemption.

These peculiar metal contraptions adorn the back wall, holding the domestic longneck stouts on offer.  Black Shield claims to be a Baltic porter/stout, but that’s rubbish.  Both these brands are tropical all the way – and not very tasty to my palate, which expects something a little more from a stout than boozy warmth and saccharine sweetness.

Next Friday Burbrit, the first craft brewery in Myanmar, will be launching a London Porter and is guaranteed to be much tastier.  This will be the first time Myanmar has had a domestically-produced porter for decades.

When the British first came to Burma, the soldiers of the Crown were each given a “porter ration” and the first industrial brewery was quick to brew dark beers after setting up shop in 1886.  Unfortunately with independence and nationalisation so went the porter.

The total of my purchases, a dead simple addition equation, is methodically put through the calculator and written into the notebook.  I pay and leave, mentioning once more that I’d really, really, really like some Bushmills.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Young’s is a big British brewery with a lot of contract operations, tied houses and chain pubs across the United Kingdom. They previously claimed to run the country’s oldest continually operating brewery. Australia doesn’t receive a large number of their beers but I have chanced upon them at the odd interval.

Their Double Chocolate Stout is only 5.2%, which hardly connotes the usual “double” label applied to beers in terms of their alcohol content. Instead I can only assume it refers to the chocolate flavour: “double chocolate” as opposed to “double stout”. The beer pours dark brown to black, not as jet black as most stouts, more on the light side of porter territory. A beige head retains faithfully with a motley mixture of bubble sizes. The beer’s aroma is layered with chocolate brownie, cocoa dust and caramel with a smidgen of fusel alcohol in the background.

This is a refreshingly dry version of a chocolate stout with a balanced profile and slight astringency countering blatant cocoa and malt assaults. Carbonation is perfect; mouthfeel light and pleasant with a slightly silky oil residue. The aftertaste suggests roasted barley or carafa malts but these are masked in the aroma and initial taste. This is a shame – I would have preferred a more chocolate-like aftertaste.

To sum up, this is a very pleasant chocolate stout – not too big, not too ambitious and spot on for a moment of contemplation.

I bought this bottled beer at The Wine Republic, Northcote and drank it at home.

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero

Clown Shoes beers are contract-brewed through Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, MA and originally started out as an idea submitted to BeerAdvocate. They have a range of innovative ales often brewed with adjuncts and unusual ingredients. Their Chocolate Sombrero is a “Mexican-style Chocolate Stout” brewed with chocolate and ancho chile.

This is an energising beer for 9% ABV. It looks like a complete void; total blackness, small head. A bold chocolate and roast aroma ripples from the surface, extremely strong, one of the biggest I’ve experienced. The first sip is a real winner as milk chocolate and searing alcohol surround the tongue. A nice vegetative, slightly caustic aftertaste lingers, adding some complexity.

The medium mouthfeel lets it go down easily. The more I drank the more I noticed cinnamon as a definite flavour component, perhaps coming from the particular chocolate used. On closer inspection actual cinnamon is used in the brew – which reminds me of the chilli component – I get nothing. No hotness. A mate’s Ghost Chilli Baltic Porter I had the other week blew my socks off compared to this, spice-wise.

But it’s still a decent beer, chocolate all the way!

This bottled beer was a gift and I drank it at a motel in Falls Church, VA.

Persephone Brewing Dry Stout

Persephone Brewing are trying to make the world a better place by playing a prominent role in the neo-local movement in Canada. They brew out of a small farm using their own hops and locally-sourced grain and employ workers with a social conscience. The farm itself is on the tip of the coast of the western approach to Bowen Island, where I drank their Dry Stout by the pint. I had asked the bartender what a particularly rowdy group of locals were drinking and she replied “some stout” – which I promptly had to order.

Sitting down with a mate we drank the beer and ate beef dip – which was gross. Thankfully the beer didn’t disappoint!

This thorough and conscientious stout presents a dark creamy head with subdued coffee, chocolate and milk on the nose. A waft of caramel is also present in aroma, mixing perfectly. The head is packed tight with tiny, tiny bubbles, condensed and professional.

A mellow creamy milk flavour hits the tastebuds first, followed by coffee. Great slick mouthfeel and not too dry, actually less moreish finish than expected. Flavours develop to remind me of those old milk bottle lollies I used to buy at the local milk bar. The head retains atop this extremely black brew, screaming to be inhaled, imbibed, enjoyed. This is a very nice beer – a bit of roast, high on coffee, some dairy notes in a good way.

Definitely one of the best stouts I drank on the North American continent.

I drank pints of this beer at the Bowen Island Pub, British Columbia.