St. Patrick’s Day at Brew Beers and Ciders, Bangkok
Our first night in Bangkok happened to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. Thus, after a long, hefty meal of world class street food at Sukhumvit Soi 38 in the Thong Lor district, we decided to head over to the nearby Seenspace complex at Thonglor 13. Thong Lor is the young, upbeat area of Bangkok. There are unique bars and restaurants, groups of friends going out for a drink after work. I’d say that this was more of a yuppie area, as opposed to the hipster-oriented Crystal Design Center, the D.O.M.-centric Pat Pong and Soi Cowboy or the bar-hopping, pill-popping rooftob clubs. This reminded me a lot of the more laid back areas of Bonifacio Global City back home, or what Eastwood City was supposed to be like when it was conceived.
The Seenspace compound itself was interesting, similar to a more cramped Bonifacio High Street, I guess, but much more fun. There were interesting restaurant and bar concepts from a dessert-centric “orphanage” to wine bars, and a raw food bar serving fresh imported oysters. Of course, there was a craft beer pub, as well: Brew Beers and Ciders. Since it was St. Paddy’s Day, they had a buy one – take one promo on Guinness Irish stout, Kilkenny Irish cream ale, and Magner’s Cider. They also gave away green plastic leprechaun hats, and if you ordered enough Guinness, a top fluffy top hat.
Brew was, at the time, a beer enthusiast’s heaven. It had several beers on tap, including Weihenstephaner and Guinness. Each beer came poured into the proper glassware as provided by the brewery. They had a selection of over a hundred bottled beers from Belgium, Germany, the United States, the Czech Republic, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Among others, if I’m not mistaken. While they did not have a lot of American craft beers, they did have the rare but poorly reviewed Rogue Voodoo Maple Bacon Doughnut Porter. I considered buying a bottle to share back home, but decided against it.
My lovely girlfriend indulged me by allowing herself to be dragged along to a pub, so I made sure to order something that she would like. The menu at Brew contained short tasting notes for each beer, as well as the region. It’s also arranged by “theme,” including beers for people who don’t like beer, and beers for ladies. The menu didn’t contain the styles, though, which I would have been more comfortable with when making a recommendation. I then conducted a short interview to gauge her tastes.
Would you like sweet or bitter beer? Sweet. Would you prefer fruity or chocolate and caramel flavors? The latter. Would you like something strong *hint hint* or a bit less alcoholic? Again, the latter.
I decided to suggest a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, which of course, she enjoyed. I loved this beer as well, once upon a time. Now my tastes have evolved, but it still brings back fond memories. Luckily, it now comes in a much more drinkable 330-ml bottle as opposed to the old 650-ml bombers. The sweetness can overcome any palate after that first glass.
In my case, no self-interview was necessary. I love my hops and I know what I want. I went straight for the imperial IPA. Hardcore IPA from Brewdog was something long awaited, and while Global Beer Exchange is introducing it to the Philippines in the coming weeks, I just had to have an advance taste. The hops were off the charts with this brew. The nose was every bit as aromatic as my beloved Sculpin IPA, and it may be heretical for me to say this, but the balance of floral, fruity sweetness and intense, lasting hop bitterness catapulted this beer ahead of Pliny the Elder in my book. I literally fell in love with this beer, despite indulging in the idonic Pliny the Elder just a few nights before.
For our next round, we tried to order Guinness and Kilkenny to get into the Irish theme, but by then, the taps had already run out, as the lively crowd in green leprechaun and black Guinness hats would attest. I then tried to get a half-and-half which is an Irish stout poured over a spoon on top of an Irish pale ale. Usually it’s a mix of Guinness (or even Murphy’s) and Kilkenny’s, or Harp Irish lager. Unfortunately, the bar was all out of those as well. I went with O’Hara’s a dry hopped Irish pale ale, and an Australian stout, from Coopers Brewery.
Perhaps out of spite for my ordering an Australian stout, St. Patrick must have laughed out loud and made sure that the beer cocktail would not layer properly. The ideal output would have been a tan layer of the pale ale on the bottom, with the less dense stout lying on top. Unfortunately, the Australian stout may have been much more dense than the Irish versions (I found regular draught stouts easier to make a half-and-half with than foreign extra stouts). Also, since it’s an Irish holiday, if you order this at a bar, call it a half-and-half and not the more common “black and tan”, if you don’t want to get branded an enemy of Ireland by an drunken reveler or an IRA sympathizer.
While Brew had run out of its Guinness and Kilkenny, the friendly waiter who took care of us the entire night still gave me a fluffy Guinness top hat. Perhaps it was out of pity, or maybe just some good old-fashioned St. Patrick’s Day drunken hospitality. Earlier that day, I found this nice almost steampunkesque clock made out of an old Guinness Foreign Extra Stout can and bottle caps. It even has small alligator clip hands on coils for your notes or pictures. Pretty cool St. Paddy’s Day goodies to ask me. And while St. Patrick was Irish and not Thai, celebrating his feast day in Bangkok was definitely a memorable experience.