Tom Cannavan tours a world of beer

In one of wine-pages regular visitor polls recently, readers of this site were asked to vote for their favourite alcoholic beverage other than wine. Though Whisky and Gin in second and third places got a respectable 12% and 10% of the vote, beer was the winner by a country mile, attracting no less than 62% of the visitor’s votes. Clearly when not enjoying a glass or two of wine, wine-pages followers are very much drawn to the lure of hops, malt and barley.

xThis round up of some world beers is all supplied by The London Beer Company, and literally covers the globe, from Cuba to Ceylon, and from Argentina to Australia. The beers are available from good merchants, and all are priced between 90p and £1.50 per bottle. There are a few specialist online companies who stock several of these beers.

Brasseries du Maroc (Morocco) Casablanca
This pale, straw-gold beer has a delicate, quite hoppy nose, with notes of malted-grain and sour-dough bread. Quite full-bodied and viscose on the palate, there is a richness to this, and a little suggestion of wheat-bear, with a sharp elastoplast (band-aid) character and a certain sweetness. Plenty of sour, hoppy flavour cuts through leaving this easy to drink and quite tasty. 35cl. 5.0%ABV

Central de Cervejas (Portugal) Sagres
This pale, lager-type beer is a little bland on the nose, with some mild malty notes. On the palate it is quite smooth and rich-textured, with a decent amount of dry, almost bitter-edged hoppy fruit and decent length, but it is bit to “clean” and under-flavoured for me. 33cl. 5.1%ABV.

Cooper’s Brewery (Australia) Pale Ale
This bottle-fermented beer cascades into the glass in a great swirling cloud of yeasty, ginger-beer-coloured bubbles. The nose has caramel and a light iodine note, and a dry hoppiness. On the palate it is quite light, with a smooth texture and good flavour, without being particularly distinctive. Dry and well-balanced, I enjoyed this beer very much. 37.5cl. 4.5%ABV.

Kronleins Brewery (Sweden) Original Crocodile Lager
This light-coloured and light-bodied lager has a definite fruity note on the nose, with a gentle hoppiness. On the palate it is a touch bland, with some dry, lightly-fruity flavours, but it maybe lacks a bit of bite and could do with a little more edge to it. 33cl. 5.2%ABV.

Quilmes (Argentina) Imported Beer
There’s a lightly malty, slightly honeyed note on the nose of this golden-coloured beer, followed by a nice sense of mellow nuttiness. On the palate it has a broad, expansive character with a fruity, dry flavour and rich texture. Not particularly distinctive, but very enjoyable. 33cl. 4.9%ABV.

Cristal (Cuba) Cerveza
This straw-gold beer has a much tangier nose than the Argentine, with a little nettle and herb note and a grainy softness. On the palate it is lots more tang and crispness too, with a bit of Pilsner-style freshness. 33cl. 4.9%ABV

Lion Brewery (Ceylon) Lion Stout
Almost certainly my favourite beer of the tasting, this deep, dark, chocolaty stout has notes of liquorice, dried fig and molasses on the nose, before a smooth, rich palate with a bittersweet quality of mocha coffee and again, liquorice, and a burnt caramel tang. It is quite a winey tasting beer, with plenty of creamy body a long finish that is all bitter, tangy, dark flavours. Excellent. 33cl. 8.0%ABV

Mythos (Greece) Hellenic Lager
This light golden-coloured lager has a pleasantly citrus note on the nose, and a little hint of honey, as well as a nice hoppy freshness. On the palate it is quite creamy textured, and is enjoyable, if a touch unexciting. It is a smooth and not too fizzy style, which would suit spicy food perhaps. 33cl. 5.0%ABV.

Dixie Brewing Company (USA) Slow-brewed Beer
This New Orleans beer is aged in Louisiana Cypress wooden barrels. The nose is certainly very distinctive, with a slightly burnt plastic note that is intriguing, if not entirely appetising. There is a certain grassy, herbal quality too, and a bit of caramel. On the palate that slightly odd plasticity continues, with a dry, lightly-flavoured style and moderately long, tangy finish. Certainly unusual and has a definite style all of its own. 33cl. 4.5%ABV.

Shanghai (China) Dragon Lager
This is a pert, light, pilsner-style lager with fruity notes on the nose, and a quite a fresh character. 35cl. 4.7%ABV

James Boag’s (Australia) Premium
This Tasmanian lager is aromatic, with hoppy and lightly malted notes, and a creaminess on the nose. That impression really follows through on the palate, which is quite thick-textured and very rich, with a rolling, milky quality, and only very gentle effervescence. Its flavours are clean and dry, with a nice bite on the finish, but this is a very gentle and grown-up style of beer that I really enjoyed. 37.5cl. 5.0%ABV.

Moosehead (Canada) Lager
Coming after the Boag’s this had a really bright, almost fizzy carbonation that made it seem rather skittish and almost unnatural, but I think it really just suffered by comparison to the low-foam style of the Tasmanian beer. Hoppy and fruity, there is a real lemony crispness on the nose, and the palate has plenty of verve too. It has lots of hoppy, herby flavour and a nice dry, lingering finish. Not amazingly complex, but a very nice lager all the same. 35cl. 5.0%ABV.