New Zealand Beers

After having a bunch of Chang and Anchor beer in Thailand and Cambodia, I was pretty excited to try some New Zealand beers. My Lonely Planet book listed it as a highlight. (NZ is one of the few places in the world that can grow hops.)

It ended up being exceptional. Here's a list of some of Mitch's and my favorites:

Sleuthhound, Scotch Ale
Parrotdog Brewery (Wellington)
6.1% ABV
- This one was extremely peaty. Sweet and toasty.

Oyster Stout 
Three Boys Brewery (Christchurch)
6.2% ABV
- This was one of the first beers I had when I got to NZ. That was a long time ago, and I honestly don't remember many specifics about this beer. I do remember it being dark and thick and awesome.

Supercharger, American Pale Ale
Panhead Brewery (Wellington)
5.6% ABV
- Panhead is less than a year old. That it already is making such tasty sensible beer bodes well for it, I think. Supercharger was one of the hoppiest beers we had in NZ. Kiwis don't hop it up quite as much as American breweries.

Pot Kettle Black Remix, American-style Porter
Yeastie Boys Brewery (Wellington)
6% ABV
- Mitch liked this beer the most out of any that he had. It was dark colored, light in body, and extremely good smelling. I compulsively closed my eyes like I was in a coffee commercial when smelling this beer. (Mitch, by the way, considered himself a beer-picking savant by the time our trip was over.)

Tall Poppy, India Red Ale
8 Wired Brewery (Blenhiem)
7% ABV
- IRAs do exist! And in the case of New Zealand beers, are much better than IPAs (at least this one is). Medium bodied. Hoppy. Sweet.

Craftsman, Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
Renaissance Brewery (Marlborough)
4.9% ABV
- Everything we had by Renaissance was delicious and well made, but I especially liked the chocolate stout. It was desert. Not so much a desert beer as actually desert. Well balanced, not too sweet, and definitely chocolate-y.

Brewski, Pilsner
Wanaka Beerworks (Wanaka)
4.8% ABV
- Big-tasting pilsner. Crisp. Spicy hopped. And the brewery was next to the Wanaka Transport and Toy Museum, so that was fun.

Captain Cooker, manuka beer
The Mussel Inn (Onekaka)
4.4% ABV
- This was the most unique beer we tried. Manuka is a flowering bush native to New Zealand, and it made Captain Cooker taste something like a Gin Ale (if there were such a thing). Like, it was to gin what a scotch ale is to scotch. Red brown. Medium body.

Cassels and Sons Brewery (Christchurch)
5.6% ABV
- Highly drinkable and crisp. Carmel-y and another one of Mitch's "I'm a genius at picking beers" picks.

If you're a beer fan, make a point of getting out to New Zealand (if you can) someday.


Week in Siem Reap

Mitch and I are in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the town adjacent to the temples of Angkor. Most of the tourists here are from Europe or China, but I have formed the opinion that an American with a week plus of vacation could do Siem Reap fairly easily.

Americans, fly into Siem Reap. Spend your next vacation in Cambodia of all places. Buy a week pass to the temples, go hiking in the jungle, visit the floating villages. Siem Reap itself is a booming little town with cocktails for $2, lodging for $10, and beer on tap for $0.50. Plus all the food and the shopping and the bumping tunes that you could ask for.

Seriously, do it. Bring some friends. It could be really fun.

It's hard not to get drunk, here.

The hedonism and touristy-ness is so strange, here, to me. The US bombed the shit out of Cambodia during the Vietnam war (more bombs than used in WWII), and landmines continue to be a problem. Siem Reap does not have a quarantined-off section for tourists like they have in, say, Jamaica or places in Mexico. It's all mixed together.

Tourism is so much more lucrative than other businesses in Siem Reap that tuk tuk drivers crowd the streets, assailing tourists constantly.

The Khmer Rouge is still on trial for war crimes - including genocide - that were committed as recently as the 80s. (The killing fields and such.) (The 80s!)

So it's strange to recommend it as a place to do your bachelorette party or your next spring break, but I still say Do it. Cocktails are $2.


Postcard From Thailand

Do It to Julia

This post contains spoilers about the book 1984 and about my trip in Thailand.

In 1984, Big Brother demonstrates to the protagonist that his will can be broken. That his love, his individuality does not triumph over circumstance. BB threatens to put his head in a cage full of viscious rats. (He hates rats.) And he, under extreme durress, gives in. "Do it to Julia," he says. (Julia being his lover and fellow subversive element.)

I've found it takes me a lot less.

Unable to find reasonably cheap accomadation on the island of Kho Ngai, Thailand, we camped under an abandoned thatch awning. The mosquitos were massive and ever present. Grossed out by the thought of smashing them in the air, clapping my hands together, I would wave them towards my friends who are surely at least as tasty as me.

Do it to Julia, mosquitoes. Do it to Julia.