The Admiral’s Pub, Hotel Mermaid Bangkok
Books Bites Brews was in Bangkok for a few days, fortuitously coinciding with the release of the 2012 Philippine Bar Examination results. Thus, while many examinees were stuck at work, toiling in anticipation in Manila, I was on vacation, yet still toiling, in Thailand. At least I had unparalleled beer, food and of course, company to temper the stress. And through some sort of miracle or twist of luck, I was able to pass the most disastrous exam in years. So now that’s Attorney Books Bites Brews to you.
Home in Bangkok was Hotel Mermaid, a boutique hotel conveniently located on Sukhumvit Soi 29, a short walk from the Asok and Phrom Phong BTS Stations. The hotel was worth every penny spent: it was new, clean and had excellent service. My only gripe was the lack of amenities in the room: no dental kits, no notepad and pen (hey, I needed to take notes). But otherwise, this was comfortable enough, almost luxurious. The best part of this Scandinavian-owned hotel (the owners are Danish, I think), and one big reason why I decided to book there, is, of course, its nautical-themed restaurant/bar. The Admiral’s Pub boasts of a real wine cellar, several beers on tap and a selection of Scandinavian and Thai dishes.
I took a peak at their wine cellar, but I found the selection quite limited. No celebratory champagne, for instance, as they only offered a prosecco and an asti spumante for their sparkling wines. The reds were, as with my own knowledge, also very limited, and I didn’t want to blindly guess at a wine that I was not familiar with. Thus, I decided to just go back upstairs and stick with what I know…
…beer, of course. And I considered myself lucky beyond belief that The Admiral’s Pub had the best wheat beer in the world on tap. I’m a big fan of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. The first time I tried it was when a friend brought a bottle home from Hong Kong, back when I was just beginning to expand my beer horizons. I was also able to have a bottle brought back from Bangkok, as well.
Now, I got to savor the best wheat beer in the world, from the oldest brewery in the world, fresh from a tapped keg, perfectly poured into a beautiful weizen glass. The Weihenstephaner looked truly regal and resplendent under the afternoon sun, with its deep orange crowned by a characteristic head of foam. It’s refreshing and light, but not overly so, perfectly carbonated. The banana, clove and bubblegum esters prevalent in hefeweizens are quite subdued here, as are the yeastiness and acidity that I find much more noticeable in lesser unfiltered wheat beers. Here, everything was balanced beautifully. Nothing stands out too much that it would throw the entire beer out of sync. This was a recipe literally perfected over centuries, and it shows. It just doesn’t get better than this.
Oh wait, it does. During the Admiral’s extended happy hour (4:00-8:00 pm), this beauty costs a mere 100 Baht for a 500-ml glass. Perfect for a sunny late afternoon while planning the evening’s itinerary.
It was also my first time to sample another of Weihenstephaner’s offerings, its Dunkel. As opposed to the hefeweisse, literally “yeast” and “white”, dunkel means dark. Thus, this was a dark, unfiltered wheat beer, with the heavier color caused by more roasted malts used in the bill. While I found the weisse enjoyable beyond comparison, I found the malts of the dunkel a tad underwhelming. I expected stronger coffee and chocolate notes from the roasted malts that I got from a similarly styled beer from Erdinger. This was much lighter in terms of taste and body than the Erdinger, and only slightly more deeply-flavored than the weisse. Nevertheless, the fact that it follows a similar basic recipe to the Weihenstephan weisse means that it tastes good. My knock on this is that the malts don’t really come out so much.
The food was pretty good too, although I wasn’t able to take photos. German-style schnitzel and Thai spring rolls were a perfect match for the above beers. The best thing about wheat beers is that they match well with nearly anything, and I consider myself lucky to have a bar right downstairs from the hotel room which served only the best on draft.