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Beer Reviews

Red Panda Weiss Beer: From Bhutan’s First Microbrewery, Bumthang Brewery

It’s nice to know that even in Bhutan, one can still find beer in the glacial valleys of central Bhutan. Or at least, beer finds you. At a rest stop between hikes, I was informed by a local cafe owner that the best beer in Bhutan was none other than the “Red Panda”.

The Red Panda, promptly plopped down at the table, is a Weiss Beer produced by a local micro-brewery called Bumthang Brewery, the first of its kind in the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Bumthang Brewery was actually established by a Swiss brewer Frits Maurer during the 1960s, an honorary Bhutanese citizen. I also learn that the Maurer family also runs their own Cheese Factory within the Bumthang Brewery, making a range of Swiss style cheeses. 

The Bumthang Brewery (Image source: Love & Barley)

Initially started by the owner as a way to brew beer for his own personal consumption, the Bumthang Brewery still keeps production relatively small scale, brewing 1,400 bottles a week.  The Red Panda Weiss beer itself is an unfiltered Hefeweizen style beer made with natural yeast.

Red Panda Weiss Beer - Tasting Notes

Colour: Hazy straw yellow, with a short white head.

Aroma: Mellow banana and cloves, with a gentle sweetness of rice and barley grains. 

Taste: Light to medium mouthfeel with notes of cereal grain, bananas, and spiced cloves. There’s also a mild citric tartness that’s quite apparent from start to end. Very gentle hoppiness.

Finish: The finish is short with notes of cereal, yeast, banana and lemon. 

Overall Thoughts:  

This beer was quite consistent with what you’d expect from most Hefeweizens, nothing much to write home about, but still fairly drinkable and refreshing without too much confronting hoppiness. I was pleasantly surprised by the interplay of bananas, spice and cereal notes, though the tartness was a bit discordant on some sips. Nevertheless, perhaps it was the fact that this was enjoyed against the backdrop of the stunning Phobjikha Valley, but this beer went down easy!


Happy sipping!