2 O'Clock Tasting
North Taiwan Brewing

While the U.S., Belgium and Germany revel in their limitless craft beers, a separate craft renaissance is quietly taking place overseas in Taiwan. Microbreweries are starting to establish themselves throughout the island nation, offering locals welcome diversity in a beer market otherwise dominated by Taiwan Beer, the country's large-market beer powerhouse. Nestled into the country's northwest border in the metropolitan Taoyuan City, one such pioneering brewery, North Taiwan Brewing, is buckling down in hopes of bringing some premium suds to Taiwan's drinkers. According to Taiwan Today, the brewery is the brainchild of Wen Li-Guo, a Taiwanese mechanic-turned-brewer who, in 2003, broke into the craft beer scene by building his own brewing facility from scratch. Li-Guo's endeavor is a snapshot of the evolving craft beer climate in Taiwan. With just shy of 200 microbreweries active in Taiwan as of 2012 and more sprouting up all the time, the nation's craft market is still in its infancy. However, that market is poised to grow at a steady clip for the foreseeable future. We here at Brooklyn Brew Shop managed to grab a few bottles of North Taiwan Brewing's creations during our swashbuckling travels abroad. Check out our tasting notes on the overseas brews below and shout out if you've tried any from the region.
  1. White Beer

    5% ABV

    We started with the lightest of the beers, which, though not transparent, certainly came close to its name, pouring a light banana color with a thin, pale foam head. The scent was intriguing; sweet and tangy apple notes evoking non-alcoholic, sparkling cider preceded hints of corn. The taste mirrored the smell, offering the same sweet corn and apple shades that dominated the nose. This beer presented its flavors and scents freely, hitting the palate immediately and remaining consistent from the top of the glass to the bottom.

  2. Abbey 6

    6% ABV

    This is the first of the two beers brewed in the style of Belgian abbeys, which Li-Guo holds as the gold standard of beer. His dry-hopped homage began with a browner, cloudier appearance than the White Beer, which reminded our tasters of filtered cider, though with a larger white head. The nose, too, contained apple notes similar to those present in the White, with elusive aromas of almond and breadmakers' yeast present as well. Though the scent rounded out nicely at that point, the taste was a wild ride—Abbey 6 opened strong with a commanding sweetness, then revealed acidic, chalky undertones.

  3. Abbey 8

    8% ABV

    Though they share a descriptor, the Abbey 8 and its 6% ABV cousin are astonishingly different. Visually, the 8 was closer to a cola than anything else, with an opaque, chocolate hue, topped by a heavy tan head. Strangely enough, the scent matched the visuals, delivering a sweet, syrupy smell that contained aspects of caramel and sarsaparilla. Following that predictable start, however, Abbey 8 turned out to be North Taiwan Brewing's most nuanced beer, according to our tasters. Intriguing flavors complemented, rather than mirrored, its scents, and a distinctive tang played across the back of the mouth and throat. All the while, a subtle, complicated sweetness dominated the front, rounding out the flavor profile. Overall, this ale reminded our imbibers of a dark saison and emerged as the clear favorite of the tasting.