By Courtney Donovan Smith Translated by Tony Li
there are quality, regional and style differences
is well known to drinkers of wine, whisky and brandy
(cognac). That this is equally true of beer is not
so widely known. For the most part, beers in Taiwan
have been differentiated by labelling imported beers
as "premium" and the unspoken understanding
that local or Chinese beers are "common."
But in truth, all are common lager beers. Until recently,
what few exceptions to the lager-only hegemony on
the Taiwan market have tended to be the lowest quality
and the cheapest to import. Happily, this is changing
with the recent appearance of some decent German draught
beers, British bitters, and microbrewed beers from
the United States.
This month's Shopping Products are both British bitter
ales. The UK is perhaps the only country in the world
where lagers do not dominate, and the quintessential
British ale is the bitter. Generally copper-coloured,
bitters are strikingly flavourful; each brand has
its own unique style.
Old Speckled Hen, a pun on a nickname for an old automobile,
is the number one seller in the premium bottled beer
market in the UK. Large bottles, cans and, in a few
select outlets, draft are now available in Taiwan.
While all agree that the draft version is best, there
is some debate on the relative merits of the can versus
the bottle. Personally, I stand by the can--the carbonation
more closely resembles draft to my taste, and produces
a frothy, creamy head. Old Speckled Hen has a distinctive,
Another entry into the local bitter market is Abbot
Ale. Smoother and less strongly flavored than Old
Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale is the perfect "starter"
ale for first-time bitter drinkers. Like Hen, it produces
a fine head, and the draft version (available in select
outlets only) is phenomenal. Personally, where both
beers are available, I like to alternate between one
and the other to contrast and savor the flavors of
Importer: Gowest Enterprises (04) 2471-2965