Saturday, March 29, 2008

Conquering Smallest Countries in Europe

My Italian friend only learnt from me that San Marino, that little town in the middle of Italy next to Rimini, is actually a country on its own, legitimately. Little did she know that ever since I had my first passport San Marino has been the No.1 on my must-visit country list all these years, simply because it is the only country in the whole world that a Chinese normal passport does not need a visa for, not at all. I really wasn't expecting much, until I knew the following. Besides being the world's oldest surviving republic, another shocking fact of that hidden gem is that it's got its own local brew. I didn't think it was possible so when I sat down in the restaurant and asked for a drink I had to ask for clarification when she offered their local beer.
"You mean, local as in San Marino?"
"Yes, it's Sammarinese and everyone likes it!"
Then I looked around and realized that there is this weird looking bottle on almost every table.
"OK, I'd like to have one, too."
"Large, half a litre."
"Yes, please."
And it's not a bad beer at all. Amberish color, reminds me of the Belgian Quak, though more yeasty. And the bottle was just so well designed and convenient to use it's so far the best beer bottle I've seen and used. Take a close look at the beer label. Impressive, eh?

[From San Marino with love]

Just as I thought San Marino would be my record of the size of the country I drink in, it also became the shortest lived record, lasting for only 24 hours. Here's how it happened.
"Hi, em... may I ask, em.... do you serve alcohol here today?"
"Excuse me? Do you need a menu?"
"Er well, I thought, you know, because today is the Easter Sunday, and the Pope's Mass is still going on, and it is Vatican, you know... Anyway, I can see that you don't have a problem with that. Can I have a beer, please?"
The Holy See never ceases to impress me.

[From Vatican City on Easter Sunday with love]

Nastro Azzurro

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sample the Beer Before You Buy It

Washington lawmakers have approved a pilot program that will allow beer and wine tasting in 30 grocery stores statewide in an effort to market local products.

The one-year program, strongly supported by the state's microbrewery and wine industries, allows shoppers to sample as much as 4 ounces of beer or wine. Supporters say it allows small wineries or breweries with no marketing budget to get their products out to the public.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


While our pivo alphabet game is stuck at 'I", I decided I should seek more information sources out in the world.

Delirium is a legend in Brussels, well, at least for beer drinks. Ever since my first trip to Brussels, actually even before I went to Brussels, I had had people tell me that one HAS TO check out Delirium when in Brussels, something like we say you have to see Great Wall when in China. Yeah it's that big of a deal.

If you wonder why, Delirium has an official Guinness certificate proving that on this planet they have the most beers commercially available in a bar. So we go and attempt to verify. We ask for their full menu, and the guy come and put this book down in front of us, with this evil grin in his face as if to say you are not the first one who didn't believe it dumbass. We realized that the fatal flaw in our plan was that we went on a Sunday night and we both had an early working session to catch the next day so we couldn't afford to sample all their beers, timewise and financewise. School girl error.

Having said that we did make our effort to taste as much as we can. Here are the proof. Thanks to them I was able to recap some of my hazy memories. Cheers to the cameras...
Floreffe in Delirium
More actions in Delirium!

But hang on, I still haven't found an iBeer!

Mir wölle bleiwe wat mir sin

Luxembourg's national motto, means "We Want to Stay What We Are." Quite proud, isn't it? Well they deserve to be. Lots of people don't believe in the official statistics that Luxembourg has the world's hight alcohol consumption per capita, and it's won the title for several years in a row. But ladies and gentlemen, it can well be the truth if you consider the fact that 60% of the Luxembourg's residents are not Luxembourgish nationals and the ratio has gone up so high the government has allowed those non-national residents to vote. Impressive.

Longing to verify that fascinating rank as well as tick one more item off my countries-to-visit/drink-in list, I took a short day trip last weekend to sample Luxembourg's old city center (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and its local brew. Props to Marie, my superb host who didn't mind me dragging her around taking photos like a typical Asian tourist and making her take photos of me drinking. That's a tough job, I'm sure all of you are aware.

So, turns out Luxembourg is a beautiful city, details of which you can browse here. What I hope to officially introduce here is the three (actually, two) Luxembourg local beers that I sampled during my 4 hour tour of the country/city.

Battin, light lager, not too shabby, good for washing down a heavy lunch meal, which I did.
Sampling Battin

Apparently Mousel and Diekirch are more famous and traditional Luxembourgish brands but I didn't have enough time to sample both. On my way to catch my train back to Brussels I saw a sign outside a cafe saying they served both. I thought it was brilliant, and again, dragged Marie with me who initially only wanted some waffles with coffee. Nice try of her. We ended up both having beers, of course. The only problem is that when I ordered a mousel, it was served in a Diekirch glass instead. So here, two birds with one stone. Isn't that great? Mousel wasn't bad at all. Heard that Diekirch isn't too hard to get in Brussels. Ahhhh how curious. I shall inquire!
Mousel in Diekirch's glass

From Luxembourg with love, kids!