If you weren’t at Tangalwood on Saturday, December 16, you really should have been. The area that comprises Attic Bar and Calm Restaurant, along with their gardens, played host to Nepal’s first international beer festival. As a beer lover who has often found cause to bemoan the lack of quality brews available in the country, I wasn’t sure what the event would entail, and to be honest, I’d kept my expectations low. A few beers, small samples—I didn’t really think it would be much more than that.
Boy, was I wrong! And I’m so glad I was. The event showcased over sixty beers from all over the world, with a great many from some of America’s most well-known craft beer producers and brewers, who are really on the cutting edge and putting out really interesting and unique flavor combinations—IPAs, stouts, rice ale, fruit flavored sour ales, and more. Of course, the U.S. wasn’t the only country with beers there; Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Australia, and several others were represented by some truly tasty brews.
The festival turned out to be surprisingly easy to navigate—a pre-paid ticket gave you a certain number of vouchers—though you could buy more, as needed—plus a cute little event glass. Then, you got to wander amongst the stalls, set up both outside and inside of the restaurants, browse the brews on offer, read a bit about the flavor profile of the choices, and get your glass filled in exchange for a coupon. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the glass and the generosity of the pour. Considering what we all know the cost of imported beers to be, it really turned out to be great value for money, and not only was there a wide selection, but the good stuff wasn’t running out in the first hour as has sometimes been known to happen.
The great thing about the way the tasting system worked, and having so much choice, was that I got to sample a lot of things that I might not have tried if I’d just had to select one or two or three for my money. Some of the ones I thought I’d love I wasn’t as impressed by as I’d hoped to be. And a brewery out of Vietnam that I’d never heard of—Pasteur Street Brewing Company—turned out to be the maker of my two favorite beers of the night: a Jasmine IPA and a Passion Fruit Wheat. Light, delicious, and unlike anything I’ve had before, I’m really wishing I had one in front of me as I type this right now. Who knew Vietnam made such great beer? I sure didn’t.
The sun shone, beer was drunk, people milled about, a DJ played music, snacks were consumed, more beer was drunk, from somewhere a fire-breathing (or was it fire-eating?) artist performed, and from what I could see everywhere I turned, a good time was had by all. In fact, a few days later when telling someone all about it, an American woman who had also attended interjected that it was the best organized event she had ever been to in Nepal. High praise indeed, considering that I later found out that in all, 1500 people attended.
And, not only were we all having a good time, but I learned from the organizer, Jim Jones, that proceeds from the day would go to benefit two very worthy charity projects: Active Hearts Foundation, which is building libraries, schools, and clinics in earthquake affected areas, and Baby Life Home, a charity that provides education for HIV-infected children. Drinking good beer is hard to top, but drinking when it benefits a good cause? Even better.
You’ll be glad to hear, as I was, that more beer events are on the horizon; keep a lookout for them in the coming months. Just don’t drink all of the Jasmine IPA before I get there.