Sometimes there is nothing better than some nicely chilled beer. Unfortunately, choices at many of the pubs in the region are very similar and one can't help but crave for something different. Happily, a craft beer movement has been brewing in cities around Asia-Pacific, with many microbreweries in the middle of town offering local flavours from the tap. Here are four of them:
Name of the brewery: The Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery
Address: 61 Albert Street (Corner of Wyndam and Albert Streets)
Background: This 10-room property was established in 1898 by a man named Thomas Foley, inspired by the hotel owned by his parents on Wyndam Street and where he was born. Foley was determined to make the hotel a landmark in Auckland that he delayed construction work just to wait for a specific type of red bricks to arrive from Melbourne. In 1986, then owner Peter Barraclough put in a microbrewery that was one of the first in the country, under the guidance of brewer Barry Newman. Today, brewers Austin Grossman and Matt Short are keeping the brews flowing on site.
Brew selection: The choice of beers changes all the time, and currently there are Kubee, a pilsner, and Hopdoggy, which is an Indian pale ale.
Prices: It starts from NZ$7.5 (US$6.2) a glass, and then there is the 12oz "handle" for NZ$8.5 (US$7) and a pitcher for NZ$35 (US$29).
What's the nosh? There is an eclectic menu of Western favourites and classics, but the most notable is the selection of burgers, starting from NZ$12 (US$10) for a Shakespeare burger with 250 grams of New Zealand beef.
The extra cool factor: The historical atmosphere aside, there is also an outdoor terrace looking at the cityscape and a partial harbour view.
Name of the brewery: Great Leap Brewing
Address: Dou Jiao Hutong #6, East City (Dongcheng)
Background: Located in a hutong near the legendary Drum Tower (Gulou) and the famous bar district of Houhai, this establishment is not content to be just a bar – it proclaims its intent to start a craft beer revolution in China. It has held its first Beijing Craft Beer Festival and it also provides ingredients for customers to do homebrews.
Brew selection: At press time there were 11 on tap, including the signature Pale Ale #6 and Little General IPA Indian pale ale, but one of the most unique is Honey Gold Ma, which consists of Sichuan peppercorn and organic honey from the Chinese province of Shandong. It gives your tongue a tingling sensation.
Prices: From RMB25 (US$4) to RMB50 (US$8) per glass, at about 450ml
What's the nosh? There is no food served here.
The extra cool factor: There is a courtyard here to provide outdoor seating and being at this tucked away location is a unique experience. It's not easy to find, but from the Guloudajie metro station, you should head south past the famous Fangzhuang Chang Hutong to find this place. From the east, you should find Jingyang Hutong and continue west. But best bring your GPS device.
Name of the brewery: Brewerkz
Address: Two locations including 30 Merchant Road #01-05/06 Riverside Point
Background: Founded in 1997, Brewerkz Restaurant & Microbrewery was developed by US-born Devin Otto Kimble and Daniel Flores, who initially modelled it after similar concepts in the US and Canada. The American-style food is complemented by a full range of premium beers handcrafted on-site from the 10 hl microbrewery attached to the restaurant. The 2,500hl of beer produced every year is served mostly at Brewerkz locations and at sister outlet Cafe Iguana, but a small amount is supplied to a number of other bars in town.
Brew selection: There is a wide range of signature brews, such as the best selling Golden Ale, Hopback Ale straight from the cask, Indian Pale Ale and Oatmeal Stout – a very dark beer with a silky texture and rich notes of chocolate and coffee.
Prices: How much the beer costs varies significantly depending on times of the day, with 300ml of Golden Ale costing S$5 (US$4.1) from noon to 3pm and $11 (US$9) at 8pm to 11pm.
What's the nosh? An extensive menu consisting of salads, pizzas, barbecue items, steaks, burgers as well as mains such as pasta dishes and others like "massive pork knuckle" (S$32/US$26)) and bangers and mash (S$27/US$22).
The extra cool factor: One of the most notable features of this place is the custom-made microbrewery built by Newlands Systems Inc in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, designed to minimise floor-space needs.
Name of the brewery: Baird Brewing Company
Address: Two "taprooms" in Tokyo, including the trendy Harajuku, on 2/F No-surrender Building,1-20-13 Jingumae, Shibuya. There is also one in Yokohama, in the Greater Tokyo Area, and another at Numazu Fish Market, in the home city of the company.
Background: Baird Brewing Company is a family-owned craft beer brewer based in Numazu, at the northern end of the Izu Peninsula known for its hot springs. The city is 130 km west of Tokyo, on the Tokaido Main Line linking Osaka with the Japanese capital. The water at Numazu, together with the use of traditional floor-malted barley and whole flower hops, contributes to the brew's unique flavour. The beer is unfiltered and goes through a secondary fermentation.
Brew selection: The year-round choices include cloudy and golden-hued Wheat King Ale with delicately floral character; the more complex Rising Sun Pale Ale; clean, soft Numazu lager; and the intense Angry Boy Brown Ale. There are also seasonal brews.
Prices: JPY600 (US$7) for half a pint and JPY1,000 (US$12) for a pint.
What's the nosh? At the Harajuku location, it is yakitori - Japanese skewers. It's JYP150 (US$1.8) for a skewer with four to five pieces of meat or vegetable.
The extra cool factor: Each Baird taproom serves a different style of food. In Nakameguro, it serves New Haven-style pizza and fresh salads, while the Bashamichi Taproom specialises in Texas-style barbeque.