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Beer Reviews

Grass Jelly Ale, Taihu Brewing | 騷包仙草 臺虎

  

Grass jelly is a beloved dessert made by gelatinising a varietal of Chinese mint, and is served across Southeast Asia (where it's also known as "Chin Chow") and East Asia, typically served cold or sometimes chopped up and mixed into soybean milk, or even combined with other ingredients for a more varied dessert such as Ice Kacang (shaved ice topped with rose syrup, evaporated milk, and an assortment of jellies). I should add that it comes in the form of a black jelly.

But perhaps what truly makes grass jelly such a beloved dessert is how humble it is - it's not a dessert you typically see in upscale restaurants but rather hawkers, street side stalls or food markets - it is the dessert of the everyday man (or woman).

 

A bowl of grass jelly served with birds nest (the white jelly in the center) and lychees. (Image Source: Burpple)

 

It's a reminder that good things don't have to be expensive or inaccessible. It's also often a hit of nostalgia to a simpler time, and is especially reminiscent of one's childhood. 

And so today we have a really interesting and unique Grass Jelly Ale from Taiwan's Taihu Brewing.

Taihu Brewing, whose name comes from the combination of the words "Tai" for Taiwan and "Hu" which is the Chinese name for tigers, in reference to Taiwan's economic status as an Asian Tiger, was founded by several partners who had decided to take it upon themselves to bring a better variety of beers to Taiwan, having lived in the US for some time and had experienced the craft beer boom there.

 

Taihu's Brewmaster Winnie Hsu. (Image Source: Thirst Mag)

 

Another aspect that's notable about Taihu is that it's helmed by one of a very small handful of female brewmasters, Winnie Hsu. Under her watch, the brewery has done spectacularly well, with her ethos being to keep to traditional European beer styles but giving them an Asian twist with Taiwanese flavours inspired by local desserts, pastries, and ingredients (in particular fruits!).

And so it's easy to see how Taihu would arrive unto a Grass Jelly Ale, inspired by the popular Asian dessert.

This was created in collaboration with Bar T.C.R.C, which is an award-winning bar in Tainan, Taiwan.

Really, really excited to try this one!

Grass Jelly Ale, Taihu Brewing | 騷包仙草 臺虎 - Review

  

Tasting Notes

Color: Light Muddy Brown

Aroma: Sweet, herbal notes of grass jelly - really distinct and aromatic, also has a very upfront gelatinous quality about it - like a fresh bowl of grass jelly.

Taste: Really full, satisfying mouthfeel! Lightly carbonated, it’s not heavy, but it feels almost packed with grass jelly - that fresh mix of grassy, herbal notes with a side of brown sugar and just really lots of grass jelly. It’s mostly sweet, with a slightly herbal side.

Finish: A lighter touch of alcoholic slick, before a clean, refreshing finish with lingering brown sugar sweetness and more grassy earthy flavours from the grass jelly.

   

My Thoughts

Honestly, is there anything like this?? This is so one of a kind and frankly so tasty. I really love how it’s so well melded into the grass jelly flavours that you couldn’t pick it apart - there’s no discernible bits of grass jelly inside but the flavours are all there, and you pretty much forget it’s an ale. 

It might be alittle bit specific, but what I also really appreciate is that the grass jelly flavours here aren’t confectionary and are abit more traditional where it’s slightly more herbal and grassy rather than sweet - it really feels like home for someone who’s enjoyed drinking grass jelly as a kid.

Overall - just an absolutely wonderful ale - so drinkable, so smooth, such great flavours, such a cohesive body with a full mouthfeel, with all these lovely traditional grass jelly flavours, just wonderful stuff all around!

 

My Rating: 9/10 🤩

  

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, would buy if I could. 
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most whiskies, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

  

Kanpai!

 

@111hotpot