Invariably whenever a beer writer goes on holiday, they almost always write a post about the local beer scene, and the exciting things happening where ever they happen to be. This is not one of those posts.
You see, I’m in Bali, and near as I can find, there’s no local beer scene what so ever. The usual thing to do in this situation is write about the local lager, and how wonderfully suited to the hot climate it is. This is not one of those posts either.
Yes, it’s 30°C and 100% humidity, which is perfect lager territory. And yes Bintang and Bali Hai are perfectly acceptable mass-produced lagers, but unfortunately they bring me no joy. At a time when I could gladly drink down an entire bucket of Townshend Black Arrow, every time I start a Bintang, I find myself rarely able to finish it.
It’s not that it’s bad, rather I can’t be bothered. I forget that I’ve got it and by the time I remember, it’s gone flat and warm. I had hoped that the handful of dark beers available would be better. Anker Stout is pretty alright (although tasted more like a Schwarz Bier), but Panther Stout seems to be an exception to the rule “it’s hard to fuck up a dark beer” (It tastes like thin Marmite).
In fact the only saving grace of the Bali offerings seems to be Bintang Radler, which is a) authentic, b) wonderful. I’ve been drinking litres of it.
All is not lost: duty free to the rescue. The gin and tonic is my go to beverage in bars where the beer, cider and wine lists (in that order) are not up to snuff. It’s pretty hard to fuck up a gin and tonic. So I picked up a bottle of Tanqueray 10 duty free, with the intention of mixing enough G’n’T to while away two weeks of sunshine.
What I hadn’t counted on was Tonic being a surprisingly rare and expensive commodity in this part of the world. But I was not to be deterred. What they do have here is an abundance of rhinoceros-themed local soft drinks.
Since pretty much everything goes ok with gin, I figured it was time to play a round of a game I just invented:
Will it Gin?
The rules are simple: each soft drink with 30-75ml gin (to taste), ice, and lime (also to taste), then rate it’s ginablitiy out of 10.
Lasegar Rasa Leci (Lychee)
This has an amazing aroma – super fruity. When mixed with Tanquers, a wonderfull spicyness comes out. Unfortunately, so does the booziness of the gin. Ultimately too soft to be a great combination. Ginablity: 6.5/10
Lasegar Rasa Sirsak (Soursop)
Soursop is apparently not very sour. Flavour seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of pineapple and guava. Pleasant, but very sweet and required a lot of lime to make it gin. Ginabilty: 6/10
Lasegar Rasa Jambu (Guava)
Super perfumey aroma. Guava flavour seems to be pink and very sweet, but unlike the the other flavours, lighter and less cloying. The gin comes through clearer with this one. Ginability: 7/10
Larutan Penyegar Rasa Melon (Honeydew)
This seems to be the lightest of the different flavours, very reminiscent of fresh melon. The base soda is lovely, but the combination is wonderful. This lacks the cloying character of the other flavours and is a really great combo with the gin. Ginability: 8/10
Pocasri Sweat is a Japanese soft drink, with a flavor I find a little hard to explain. It kind of reminds me a little of a very dilute Schweppes Lemon, but really nice.
Yeah, I know a drink called ‘Sweat’ is unappealing, but if you can get past that, it’s quite pleasant; and with gin, it’s fantastic. It’s soft, mild and not too sweet, which means the gin can really shine through. And with a goodly squeeze of citrus, it becomes wonderful! Ginability: 9.5/10
Congratulations Pocari Sweat, you win today’s round of “Will it Gin?” In other news, I’ll be back in Wellington soon, which is good, because by god, do need some hops. See you all soon!