If you stick around long enough as an ex-pat anywhere, you’ll likely notice reoccurring themes in water cooler conversations. Departures of long-timers (or arrivals of former long-timers who had sworn they’d never return), so-and-so’s most recent south east Asian vacation and whatever new fan-dangled western product is available at the local grocery store typically dominate the sewing circles. If you’ve never seen someone work themselves up to a boner-in-sweatpants level of excitement over the arrival of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, you haven’t been in Asia long enough. Any sentiment shared is typically benevolent, good-spirited and, more often than not, appreciative in nature. After all, a lot of us are on one and two year contracts and it’s these simple pleasures that makes the time away from family and home easier. Tenure here is typically short and, at times, fleeting but there’s an expression that, no matter how hard you try to dress it up, comes off as slightly dismissive no matter whom it comes from. It’s “Oh, this is good for ____.” or “Not bad for ____.”
You see, part of the high/torture of living overseas is that it ISN’T EXACTLY LIKE HOME. In fact, it’s probably nothing like home, and for a lot of us, it’s what we appreciate about our new homes. Much is made about this phenomenon called “culture shock”. There really isn’t a grey area. You either sink or swim. You adapt or you try to change this place, complain online to your echo chamber and leave on a red-eye flight with a pocket full of greenbacks and plenty of time left on your visa. People make a lot of it, but it’s really that simple. Things are getting easier, much easier, however. I have friends here in Korea that came over in the 90s that learned to read Korean immediately on arrival just so they could read about who won the Super Bowl in the newspaper …. two weeks after it happened.
So when someone says “This is good for (insert place here) but, man, there’s this artisanal burrito shop in San Diego that would absolutely destroy this place.”, you let it go at first but you can’t help but think about the fellas that came over before yourself blazing paths and carving trails. The same guys that would endure the stares from the locals and go months without a western meal. Their contributions to our comparatively turn-key overseas experiences can’t be ignored. Years past, these guys and gals carved out clubs and opened bars that gave us some semblance of home. Now they are opening up back-home quality breweries where once previous only macros traditionally dominated . I’m happy to say for even the most hardened of hater, you can drop the “good for _____.” act because, not only is Pasteur Street Brewing Company good for Asia, it’s just plain good!
Here are my tasting notes of their beers we were able to get our hands on at two different locations of “The Hill Station” in Vietnam. A generous happy hour puts these beers at about 2 USD each.
5% Passion Fruit Wheat Ale
Beautiful Hawaiian punch nose that leads to passion fruit mid palette and finishes with a slight dryness on the sides of the tongue and back of the throat. Would have been interesting if a non flocculent yeast were used or potentially incorporate the passion fruit into a fast sour .
7.2% Spiced Saison.
Low alcohol fusels. Doesn’t finish excessively dry. Can pickup some lemongrass but can’t place the ginger or the pepper.
6.5% Jasmine IPA
Rich up front nose with jasmine notes mid palate. Low bitterness. The jasmine is detectable but not distracting. That said, I think it would be a standout IPA with the jasmine but understand why they used it to round out their beer lineup with local ingredient. Get some white wine notes.
6.9% Toasted Coconut Porter
Rich, silky mid palette mouth feel. Light roast up front. Delicious coconut filters through and lingers without any distracting fusel alcohols. As the beer warms up the finish ends with a dryness that one might associate with a merlot.
(The inspiration comes from a day dream I had in reference to Korean people living in B.F.E U.S.A. I just kept imagining a middle aged Korean man in Omaha, NE eating a 15 dollar bowl of kimchi jjiggae with a mood wavering between mild satisfaction and lukewarm disgust.)