Last Monday school resumed after a two week spring break. That means many of my co-workers were back from their vacations. I endured stories about South Africa, Brazil and Italy. Having been to those places may have made my jealousy even worse. I avoided the lunch room though politely asked people about their breaks when I saw others in the hallway.
Staycations are great – but when you go back to a workplace full of people buzzing from their great locations and activities it isn’t easy to compare. We went to some really great places and saw and did wonderful things. But it wasn’t Rome or Rio. There wasn’t great wine or diving with great white sharks.
But on the bright side, on Monday Tommy gave me a single bottle of beer he carried from Italy for us…
One of the things that we did during the Thanksgiving visit by my cousin Rachel and her husband Brian was to have a blind tasting of some of the really bad beer that we can find here.
Brian, Rachel, Pepper and I tasted small samples of the following beers. Each went just against the other beer for single elimination. We then voted to determine which would continue.
First up was 10,000 Volts vs. Kingfisher Superior super strong beer. The KF won and moved on to the next round. Then we had Zingaro against Black Knight Maxx. Zingaro won. How could it not against a beer that sounds like a condom brand?
Then we had Druk 11000 which is a beer from Bhutan up against plain old Kingfisher – the staple of beer in India. The Bhutanese beer won. Then we had Vorion 12,000 against 20,000. The 20,000 ruled that battle.
A long evening of trying beer short, Zingaro emerged as the tastiest of the bad beer we had to sample. 20,000 came in third and the beer from Bhutan probably came in third with Kingfisher Strong not too far behind.
While we were taking care of an appointment for our adoption medical check in Guangzhou, China, we saw this wine vending machine in the lobby. Pepper had no luck with her card, but our guide slipped in with some cash to save the day. Wine vending machine!
Friday night we celebrated my 39th birthday by having a second beer tasting tournament. Pepper and I scoured Ulaanbaatar shops for 16 different beers than were tried last year. We ended up with drinks from Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any Sam Adams to defend the title from last year.
We had almost 20 people over to try them. Each person sampled two of them blindly (for instance, number 1 vs. number 2) and voted on their favorite of the two. So it was single elimination and sometimes the match-ups were intentional. Coupling a beer that we could only find two bottles of with something we were pretty sure would win was occasionally part of the strategy.
The semi-finalists were the Marzen, Carsberg, Korona, and Hoegaarden. Hoegaarden edged out Korona but fell to the Marzen which clobbered Carlsberg. The Austrian Marzen beer that we just found two days earlier at Caucasia won the tournament.
With 20 people’s small cups floating around it was a good thing that I had received a few reusable drink markers over the past few months. You’ll probably not believe this, but three different people gave these to me. Apparently my love of beer and mustaches creates a very niche gift.
Last night we finally went to a restaurant near our place in downtown Ulaanbaatar. We’ve been planning to try it for months. “Caucasia” serves Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani food. We tried their appetizer that is similar to chips and salsa, salads, dumplings, pizza-like dish and kabobs. Everything was quite good. Prices were reasonable – Pepper and I rang up a bill of almost $50 but we really over ordered food. We have leftovers to feed all three of us lunch today.
Especially exciting is that they had three beers on tap that we have never seen before. There were three Austrian beers from Salm Brau.
In preparation four our second beer tasting tournament (our first beer tournament was last year), Pepper asked if it was possible to bring a container back later and have it filled with their beer. Pepper did this at three Ulaanbaatar microbreweries last year – one she had to provide her own plastic bottle. They said yes. Then five minutes later they came back with one of their pint glasses full of beer and wrapped in cellophane. Not quite what we were hoping for but great to know they trust that we’ll bring the glass back (we will!) and that you can get take-out beer!
The restaurant had great service, great atmosphere, great food, and is in a great location for us. It is great! They are part of teh Nomad’s chain (Nomad’s restaurants, BD’s, and others) but it seemed distinct enough. They had wonderful videos of Caucasus dancing playing, the staff wore great uniforms, and some even spoke English quite well.
Don’t believe me? Read Becky’s review of the place. She has a better picture of Pepper there too.
We’ll be back. Plenty.
Open 11 AM to 11PM daily. Phone – 77119900 or 314433
June 24th of 2012 we were wandering around Moscow and thirsty. We had finished riding the Trans Siberian Railroad (said “SiBEERian”) and spent a little time exploring the sites before we were headed to St. Petersburg. Then we found Burgermeister. Their beer menu is astounding.
Not more than a ten minute walk from the place we were staying is a strangely named “gastropub” called No Idea. The exterior is nice and the interior just as pleasant. We wandered in because of the creative sign urging women to leave their men there so they didn’t interrupt shopping.
We were greeted with a great list off beer and a very nice list of foods on their menu. At least three times while there on a Saturday afternoon the owner popped by our table to ask how things were. He was a very pleasant man and clearly is running a great business.
They had a large number and wide variety of beers on tap. We tried some of the more obscure ones they had such as the Erdinger Dark, Erdinger White, Warsteiner, and Irish Pale Ale.
We watched a Rugby game on the television while there. I am not sure that I have ever watched a full rugby game before and we learned a lot about it by paying attention to the screens. To top it off, they had very nice and clean restrooms!
What did Pepper want to do before spending four days in the hospital during a medical trip to Thailand? Go to a brewery. I’m awfully lucky. She did her research and found the Tawandang brewery.
They have two locations. We went to the one on Rama 3. They have seating for a good 700 or more people but we were ther on a Monday night so the place wasn’t packed. They open at 5 PM and close around midnight so no early afternoon or lunch time drinks from them. We arrived just after they opened and stayed a few hours. We passed the time tasting their beer, having dinner, killing a cockroach, and enjoying the live music.
They have three beers on tap. Their lager was very nice. It was smooth and just a little hoppy. Their website says it runs at 5%. The Weizen had a very pleasant fruit taste. After the 90 degree weather outside it even seemed right to put a lemon in. We tried to order one but got a lime instead which wasn’t quite the right taste. It runs at 5.5% alcohol by volume. Finally they have a Dunkel which was perhaps one of the smoother dark beers I have had. It had a lower alcohol content at only 4.5% but I made up for it by ordering the glass as big as my head.
Speaking of big serving sizes, they also sell their beer in the towers so it is a nice place to go if you have friends that all like the same kind of beer. I like my beer cold though so one liter of beer is usually enough for starters.
Aside from the small cockroach we had a great time – the food was good, the beer excellent, and the entertainment definitely entertaining.
In a few days I turn 38. Pepper asked what I would like to do to celebrate and we decided to host a beer tasting. Her sister had taken part in a similar event which gave us the idea. We have hosted beer tastings before such as a vertical tasting of Alaskan Smoked Porters from quite a few different years or the tasting we did last year of winter beers.
For that tasting we just concealed each of the beers and everyone got a small sample to try. then they wrote their impressions and rated the beer from 1-10. We then calculated the average for each beer to declare a winner.
For this tasting each beer would be paired with another beer and you would just need to choose the better of the two which makes the event more like a tournament. Each beer that wins by popular vote would move on to the next round. This should make it easier that comparing a beer to one you tasted 10 sips ago.
We came up with a guest list and estimated just a one ounce sample per person. We decided to do single elimination with sixteen different beers. If you want sheets to use for the bracketing this site has easy links to brackets of all sizes.
Quite a few beers
Bracket sheet for each person
Small tasting glasses
Something to disguise the bottes (or cans) as you pour