Tuesday 16 December 2008

Bintang in Jakarta

I’m in Jakarta for business this week, and some colleagues and I had a super meal out this evening. Satay fish wrapped around long pegs of lemongrass... prawns cooked in banana leaves... salad with peanut sauce... and all with great chillies and chilli sauces.

To wash it down, I had a Bintang beer. It’s a standard pilsner, made by Heineken, which offers no surprises. At first, I did think it was a bit surprising that they even had beer, given Indonesia’s current alcohol shortage caused by a crackdown on the black market for alcoholic beverages as the government tries to funnel the trade into the legal zone, where a 400% tax applies.

But it turns out it’s a luxury tax, and beer is not considered a luxury good. (Too right -- more like a staple for those of us from Belgium.) And the shortage is really only hitting the imported stuff in any case. No fear of too few Bintangs, then.

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