Category Archives: Beer

The Weekly Banjo #21: In Defense Of My Corner, I Step Into Yours.

Although I am a devout reader of Food And Wine magazine, I read a disturbing article recently lauding the pairing of Belgian beer–yes, that sweet, fruity, flocculant style of beer–with dishes from Asia.  Do I remember what issue of F&W it was?  I might, if I hadn’t been so vexed at the article in question that I tore the magazine in half and fed it to the bears.

This, dear reader, was over the damned line, and I think it’s up to me to set the record straight.

The flavors of Asian cuisine are as diverse as the populations of the Asian continent; this is why we don’t see many Russian/Chinese restaurants.  For the purposes of my argument, however, we will confine the scope of cuisine to the sub-continent, specifically Thailand, Vietnam, and a little bit of Japan.

Let’s start with Japan, where the chief diet comes from the sea, and is accentuated with rice, vegetables, and sauces.

Ebi Tempura

Adding a robust (say, overwhelming) Belgian trappist-style ale to this meal may prove disastrous.  Belgian beers are (while light in color, mostly) sledgehammer-flavored mouth-bombs with benefits: that is to say that they get you incredibly drunk incredibly fast.  What, then, would the Banjo suggest you drink with your Japanese meal?  This is a tricky one to answer, although the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT a Belgian beer.  This may surprise you, but the point with Japanese cuisine is to get out of the food’s way, so I give you:

Spaten Lager

It’s a strange pairing, but a German-style lager complements almost any Japanese meal without overwhelming the subtle flavors on your plate.


Vietnamese is another enigmatic cuisine with French and Cambodian influences, so let’s take a sample Vietnamese dish (my favorite) and pair it appropriately:

Bun-Cha (Open-Barbecued Pork)

There’s hardly anything I can say here that can describe how wonderful Bun-Cha is when prepared correctly.  Let’s say it’s served this way:

I'm Hungry.

I’d serve a red ale without question.  Reds are less snarky than pale ales, and usually hold greater depth–perfect for putting out the hallmark fire of these dishes while leaving you hungrier and hungrier.


Thai is all the rage now in America, and for good reason:  it’s delicious, complex, [somewhat] accessible, and (like many types of Asian food) now ubiquitous in North America, although the best Thai, like anything, is very rare.

Okay, let’s start with the one you all want to know: Phat Thai.

You've Never Had It?! SERIOUSLY?!

Although this is a dish enjoyed daily by millions (if not billions), it is a serious, serious bastard to pair with beer.  In fact, Thai cuisine, by its very hallmark traits of light, aromatic preparation, is fairly beer-hostile.

Don’t fret, of course.  With the rare exceptions of Satay or the heavier red curries, simply follow a similar track as you would with Japanese, although Thai lends itself to some more diverse beer pairings, such a a good Pilsner:

Get the good stuff.

Or, if you can’t visit Manny and Roger, get a bottle of one of the originals.

Good Job.

Either way, you are selling each of these essential Asian cuisines short by brow-beating them with some over-the-top Belgian beer.  These are beers much more suited to pairing with French or English fare.  Asian food is like a delicate flower, and this is one successful drinker who intends to give it the respect it deserves.

Come ON, F&W.



NYT Reports On Beer Mecca Start-ups

From the travel section of the New York Times, a glistening account of where we should all be RIGHT NOW.


If you haven’t seen it, it contains everything you need to know about me: I like to be happy.

The Weekly Banjo # 16: How To Spot Beer People

This, people, is a matter of discernment, and discern you must for these reasons:

  • Beer people will steer you toward great beers.  Certainly, you will get drunk, but you’ll find yourself as happy as can be before you trip, fall, and lose consciousness.
  • Beer-party-macro-suckers will spend nearly 4 hours funneling MGD down your neck while they repeatedly, over-enthusuastically claim for you that you are having a “great fucking time”.
  • Beer people will find a way to get you a potent homebrew.  That’s regularly the good stuff, and you should be thankful if any private brewer deems you worthy (if the beer is decent, that is).
  • Beer-Pongers and Beer-Bongers will make certain that their sharpie art project on your unconscious cheek is anatomically correct.  Hey, that counts for something, right?
  • Beer people know where to go in a given city or town to get the goods, or at least get a seat at a good place to drink.
  • Open-Throaters think the Honey Bucket is a GREAT place to conceive an illegitimate child.

Here are some helpful visual aids:

These Are Beer People. And They Are Also Hosers.

Not A Beer Person.

Not Beer People.

Definitely A Beer Person. Note the Setting and the Quint-Fist.

Does It Matter?

As a successful drinker, it is incumbent upon you to find beer people and drink with them.  They know what they are doing because they did the exact same thing.

Polymath Just Handed Me My Hat.

Actually, he handed me my face on a platter, because I have never, EVER seen such a beautiful damned website.

Click here or be doomed to unsuccessful drinking.

The New York Times Front-Pages News of High Import

The NYT has written a feature article extolling the virtues of the growler, one of the cornerstones of successful drinking.

Be not surprised, but do be excited.  If it catches on with the pint-drinking crowd, it can only be a good thing.

Weekly Banjo #13: Extracurricular Activities

While your beer-drinking habits should rightly take most of your focus, drinking is most often done as a community exercise.  If you are not just drinking to “get drunk” (more on this aberration next week), here are some other activities you may want to try:

  1. Trivial Pursuit.  Nothing beats trying to remember what the sam hell Cotton Mather did when the fog of three beers rolls over your eyes.
  2. Poker.  Any variety.  Success comes with inhibition and intellect.  Don’t get too drunk, or you’ll go broke.
  3. Scrabble.  Triple word score for awesome words?  Try coming up with the word “and” after one too many.

Remember that beer is a community beverage designed to make friends.  A game of Trivial Pursuit, Poker, or Scrabble may net you a friend for life.  Of course, if that doesn’t happen, you still have the best drink in the world in front of you to talk to.

Hello, Delicious.