We have now sampled all three domestic beers from Indonesia, and are ready to give our verdicts. A funny story accompanies our purchasing the beer. We were going to just drink it from the minibar, which we suspected to be marked up, but still only cost around $2. Instead, we went to a grocery store where they cost between 65 cents and a buck each. As we checked out, of course there was a label problem with one of them, meaning that the cashier walked around hollering for a price check on the beer. People don’t drink beer that much in this majority Muslim country. So there we were, two ugly Americans holding up the line, waiting for our beer. Of course.
Now, on to the verdicts.
Bir Bintang. Bintang (meaning “Star”) is the larger of the two breweries in Indonesia. It is a Pilsener, and hence shares characteristics with both good central European brews like Pilsner Urquell and bad beers like the Beast. Its taste is light and fruity, though, with a sweet aftertaste. It certainly stands above the Milwaukee genus of beers, and would probably match well with salty, deep fried foods that are so prevalent here.
Bir Anker. Anker (meaning, like, “Anchor” or something) is the smaller brewery. Like Bintang, Anker is a Pilsener, but its taste is much drier, with a wheaty finish. Its taste is closer to a Singha or a Kingfisher type of beer, and would do well paired with sweet Javanese curry or some of the more volcanic sambals.
Anker Stout. Anker Stout is a true surprise. Produced by the Anker company as a dark alternative to the regular Pilsener, Anker Stout is a damn good stout. It has chocolate notes and an espresso like character, reminiscent of Beamish or Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. It would go well with salty peanuts and cheddar cheese, which, thanks to Dutch colonal influences, are probably available around here somewhere.
Speaking of chocolate, only one of us participated in the beer testing beyond a couple sips. The other one was busy tasting chocolate. (Pretty good.)