The first of these was the crappy little bottle shop in Washington DC which was wedged between our hotel and the local supermarket/pharmacy. As I’ve mentioned before we were staying in Foggy Bottom which is very close to GWU university, and this 24 hour bottle shop clearly catered to the Frat boys who sat on the couches in the front yards of the frat houses around the corner. That is to say the choice was poor at best.
I stood despondent in front of the fridges for a while, and eventually spotted a beer that I’d been trying to get in Australia for a while. Every time I ordered it from someone I was told they were out of stock, but in the land of the free anything is possible.
So in a sign of post cold war friendliness I bought a bottle of the Russian beer – Baltika 7. The 7 means it’s a export lager (why oh why is it only lagers that everyone exports?) Why couldn’t it be Baltika 6 (dark beer), or Baltika 9 (Strong Lager) hell I’d even settle for Baltika 8 which is a wheat beer.
So enjoying the symbolism of the Russian/USA alliance I opened the brew, poured it into a glass and found that is it a very light yellow colour with a big frothy white head. Quite pungent with a lager yeast smell. Gassy in the mouth and not at all malty. There was some bitterness coming from the hops, but unsurprisingly it was still crisp.
Actually quite a good example of pale euro lager, which is to say it wasn’t interesting at all, but it was refreshing. Schooner
Fast forward a few days and we have left the East Coast for the sunny West Coast. As we thought it fitted with the San Francisco vibe we decided to stay in a backpackers. Right next to this backpackers was the type of grocery store which sold everything, it was even staffed by a disinterested hipster who seemed more interested in yelling at the baseball telecast on the radio (how hipster retro to use a radio rather than the ever present in the US television?) than azctually serving customers.
They did however have a reasonably good range of beer. I scanned the shelves, thought about buying a can of Fosters (I never see it at home so it would have been a novelty) but eventually I landed on Red Stripe Jamaica’s premier beer.
Red Stripe is owned by Diageo worldwide and I actually have a vague recollection of it being available (reasonably widely) a while ago in Australia, at the very least I remember a huge sign for it in the beer garden at the Railway Hotel in South Melbourne. (Further research tells me it was the official beer of the 2005 Ashes series so this might explain it).
The beer itself is pretty much what you would expect from a lager produced on a Caribbean island., light in colour and softly carbonated (I assume this is so you can slam it down fast, Solo style). The bubbles feel velvety. There is a hint of malt at the front of the sip and a crisp finish. It would be perfect on a beach when it’s very very hot, but otherwise I’m not sure I would bother. Schooner