Sunday, 4 December 2011


I am now getting back to Belgian beer after some time away. Tonight, we tried Villée, a collaboration between the Biercée Distillery and the Silly Brewery. Yes, yes, there’s a Belgian town called “Silly”, and you’re not the first to find that amusing.

The jester on the label offers no humour for us, but instead kicks off a debate before we even open the bottle. Fiona doesn’t like it: it’s too, um, well... silly, she says. I’m not so sure. It’s not the same as the gnomes, sprites and pixies you get on far too many Belgian beer labels, and about which I have moaned about here on this blog in the past.

At least jesters existed.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Taedonggang (North Korea)

One of the great things about working for an international organisation is the cross-cultural intellectual stimulation of interacting with colleagues based around the world. I learn so much from them all every day -- about politics, language, business and customs -- expanding my knowledge and understanding of people and societies in every corner of the globe. When we get together, it’s like a personalised, intensive course in foreign affairs, and I feel my mind sponge soaking up the wonders of humanity in all its glorious complexity.

Oh, and they sometimes bring me beer from some strange places.

The latest was from one of my colleagues covering North East Asia: a beer called Taedonggang from North Korea. (Thanks, Dan!)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Nigerian Guinness

I’m off to Nigeria early next year, and after handing in my visa application today, it seems an appropriate evening to crack open a bottle that’s been sitting in the “to try” crate for rather a while: Guinness Foreign Extra Stout from Nigeria.

Now, there are infinitely more qualified people out there who can tell you all about the history of how Guinness developed such a committed market in Nigeria, but one thing I can say: this is not your familiar Irish Guinness. For starters, it’s 7.5%. Be warned.

The initial aroma is sawdust, which is not entirely pleasant, I have to say. That carries into a slight cardboard note in the taste, which I suspect is a result of oxidation, probably exacerbated by the fact that I let this beer age too long.

Apart from that, Nigerian Guinness is sweet right from the start, followed by some of the stout elements you’d expect: burnt caramels and such. Not refreshing so much as nourishing. And intoxicating -- did I mention it’s 7.5%?

In any case, it’s certainly inviting. I am very much looking forward to trying it in its homeland...