One of the oldest celebratory beverages in the world is none other than beer, which has a history that can be dated all the way back to 9500 BCE. Some archaeologists have even argued that alcohol was instrumental in the foundation of civilizations, shown by the regulation of the drink that was found on the ancient Code of Hammurabi as well as the worship of the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, Ninkasi.
Today, beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world, likely the result of its cost and profits. Due to the lucrative profits the beverage provides, a large number of beer companies have risen up in the world and it can easily be obtained in a can or bottle just like soft drinks. Yet a population of craft beer artisans still exists in the world, keeping true to the art of fine beer brewing to bring out the true pleasantness of stouts, lagers, ciders and ales alike.
Such artisanal breweries are becoming more and more prevalent in Taiwan today, led by both local and foreign brewers who are themselves, connoisseurs in their own rights. It is even safe to say that the varieties that are available in Taiwan will enable anyone to find the beer that best fits an individual’s unique pallet. Moreover, Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind geographical location also enables local brewers to conjure flavors tailored specifically to the various seasons. (Read more: Taiwan’s Craft Beer Scene (Part One))
While the best way to secure the beer that is most suitable for an individual is to speak to a brewer or bartender, such opportunities do not always come easily. As such, Taiwan Scene has compiled the following list as an easy guide for Taiwan craft beers. Now, have a recommendation for us:
SUNMAI – Buckwheat Lager – 5.0%
The best way to describe this beer is an IPA without the overwhelming bitterness of hops. This beer is brewed using buckwheat, which provides the beer with an irresistible aroma and a hint of roasted caramelization as a result of low fermentation combined with the use of a light malt. The ingredients and brewing technique applied on this beer creates a harmonious ensemble of smoothness that provides the brew with the refreshing dryness of an IPA, blended with the taste of a light lager.
From the brewery of the alchemists of ales comes the Purple Grain Scotch Ale, a blend that is made with 10% locally grown barley, making the beer a proper made-in-Taiwan product through and through. The grain is the key ingredient which gives the beer its hint of sweetness. With an ABV of 7%, the beer is surprisingly light to consume and exceptionally delicious.
Takao Beer – Lyu Chuan – 4.3%
With the assistance of Taichung City’s Water Resources Bureau, Takao Beer introduces the limited edition commemorative craft beer known as Lyu Chuan. Named after its namesake river, this beer is brewed with secondary fermentation. The hops of the beer are undergo also cold-brewing, giving it a hint of dryness found within a subtle layer of bitterness.
The Four Seasons Ale from the Bloch Brewing Company is the winner of the 2014 World Beer Awards. The brew is a mid-strength amber ale made using Taiwanese ingredients and malts from Heidelberg, Germany. The Heidelberg malts enrich the character of the ingredient to give the beer a very polished flavor profile. The brew is as smooth as they come. What makes the drink even more exceptional, is the deliciousness after taste that lingers in one’s mouth after the initial first gulp.
If you are bored with trying traditional craft beers such as IPAs, lagers, pilsners, stouts, ciders, and porters, then the Tomato Sour Beer might just be that new thing you have been searching for. Described by the company as a sour dry beer, the brew is an interesting drink that also has a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. Aside from drinking the brew as a regular alcohol, it also goes great with gourmet delicacies, as it shares similar tastes and properties with traditional red wines.
Taihu Brewing – Taihu Weisse – 5.0%
So what can be said about this wheat ale? Well, for starters, it is infused with orange zest during the brewing process, which gives the brew a subtle sourness to an otherwise aromatic beer filled with the deliciousness of roasted wheat. This irresistibly smooth Taiwan-brewed German beer is the perfect drink to have after a full day’s work.
With its APV measured at 12%, this red ale sure has got a kick. Red malts are used as the main ingredient and then aged in decanted bourbon whiskey barrels from Kentucky’s distilleries. The concerted subtle flavors of vanilla and honey from the barrels and the familiar caramelized scent from red malts make this beautiful ale pleasantly robust, making it a must-have for bourbon and craft beer connoisseurs alike.
Well, there you have it, some of the most delicious and unique brews in town. Most of the beers introduced above could be easily located at craft beer bars all around the country or at the companies’ very own outlets. However, what would intrigue most avid craft drinkers, are the experiences available at the breweries themselves. Currently, companies such as Jim & Dad’s have the doors of their breweries wide open for visitors looking for a more personal experience. Customers are encouraged to make reservations at the breweries of their choosing to experience the full lines of beers available at each respective location, paired with detailed explanations from the brewers themselves on the process of their craft and the founding principles of their passion. So, as you get ready to embark on your craft brew journey in Taiwan, have one of the above recommendations while you find the brew that best suits your palette. Cheers.