Sat, Feb 27, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Food & Drink: Honing the craft

The craft beer scene in Taipei is booming, with bars and restaurants offering more local brews on tap, as well as atypical food and beer pairing

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

Ho’dala Craft Brewery on Yongkang Street serves over 60 types of craft beer — many of which are their own brews.
Warning: Excessive consumption
of alcohol can damage your health.

Photo courtesy of Ho’dala

Gone are the days of chugging Taiwan Beer on the stoop of a 7-Eleven. The craft beer revolution is sweeping Taipei with much of the same fervor as the coffee shop fad in 2010 and the speakeasy craze in 2013.

Brewers and pub owners attribute this in part to the slow food movement, where consumers with disposable income want to know how the ingredients are sourced. Craft beer offers an opportunity for customers to take a step back and appreciate the process that it takes to make a light, hoppy ale or a dark, frothy stout. Also increasingly popular is food and beer pairings — something practically unheard of only two years ago. You won’t just be finding finger food in the four establishments listed below. While burgers and wings understandably make their way on to most menus, others offer Taiwanese sausages or luwei (滷味, soy sauce-marinated snack food) — both of which pair surprisingly well with most beers.

CHUOYINSHI (啜飲室)

Chuoyinshi’s (啜飲室) main Da-an branch is more co-working space than it is craft beer bar. The brainchild of five entrepreneurs hailing from backgrounds as diverse as finance, apparel and food and beverage, the establishment boasts a vibe that is both intellectual and industrial. The minimalistic design is accentuated by simple wooden tables for patrons to stand at and 20 un-labeled taps behind a wood-paneled bar top.

The Chinese character chuo (啜), which means “to sip,” is traditionally used within the context of drinking tea. As craft beer is relatively new to Taiwan, the co-founders wanted to cultivate an atmosphere that was more akin to tea-tasting — a calm and relaxed space that breeds conversation and contemplation. For this reason, the beers are served in small, bulb-shaped glasses so that customers can slowly dissect and relish the flavors as they would with tea.

Chuoyinshi keeps at least one or two local brews on tap every day. A good brew to start with is Taiwan Head Brewers’ Jasmine IPA (大暑). The brewers use local ingredients from various teas to flowers. In this case, the jasmine gives it a naturally sweet and refreshing aroma. If you are more of a stout drinker, try the Lakefront Fuel Cafe. The coffee beans used to brew it are clearly evident in the final product, which is a frothy blend of coffee and dark chocolate.

As for food pairings, Chuoyinshi prides itself on not serving American-style bar food. Instead, they offer their own rendition of a Taiwanese luwei. Traditionally known as a roadside delicacy — you choose your meat and vegetables and the vendor throws it into a giant pan and boils it all up — Chuoyinshi’s take on it is slightly more refined, offering braised egg, tofu, pigs ears and plenty of other delicacies which patrons can pair with various beers.

Their latest branch, which opened late last year in Xinyi District (信義), is an outdoor standing area with a similar decor — minimalistic-style wooden tables and an industrial, high-ceiling bar. Much of the same beers are served though there is the option of a platter of cold cuts (no pig ears).

Chuoyinshi 啜飲室 — The Tasting Room (Da-an branch)

Address: 14, Alley 5, Ln 107, Fuxing S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市復興南路一段107巷5弄14號)

Telephone: (02) 8773-9001

Open: Sundays to Thursdays from 5pm to 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm to 12am

Average drink: NT$200 to NT$250 for a glass

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