Craft Beer Scene /Options in Kathmandu

It's possible to have a beer tasting now at Baluwatar's Ventures Cafe

After nearly a week of constant wrangling with my laptop while trying to go multi-OS, I have finally managed to get it tick-tock-ticking; although -now that I think about it-  I should have just wiped my hard drive clean in the first place. This BIOS-UEFI is tricky, and I might as well blog about lessons learnt in the future. Good thing I had a backup of my documents otherwise I would have been in a much different mood, in a much different environment at the moment. 

So what mood am I in right now you ask? In celebratory beer mood obviously. 

Talking about beer, I was in Nepal for the months of August-September for an entirely different purpose but I also had had the chance to take a closer look at the craft beer scene in Kathmandu. I was very unhappy with the way MUNCHIES (VICE) covered the Nepalese craft brewing culture [HERE] and am equally unhappy with the way I have collected information on the culture too. Suffice to say, interviews that I was supposed to take, places I was supposed to go and craft beers I was supposed to scavenge didn't materialize because my focus was to push for the satellite, organize the training sessions and pooof! just like that, it was time for me to get my butt to Japan. 

I do however, have collected some relevant information on how to get hold of craft beer, where to find them and what local breweries are making a name for themselves. So let's start out with the one and only...

Sherpa Brewery

Himalayan Red, an ESB styled red ale, is good brew.
Photo at Patan Durbar Square.

Traditionally, a monopolistic market with several laws prohibiting smaller breweries to take flight, Sherpa Brewery has somehow managed to overcome the odds and aggressively market itself as the "Nepal's First Craft [Brewery]." 

They might well be. 

I came across their beer a year ago when a Korean friend of mine noticed a craft beer sign while walking back late at night from Thamel, well into Lazimpat. We zoomed right in, ordered two cans of their finest Kolsch, a german stlyed ale from, you guessed it- Kolsch and was utterly, utterly disappointed. At this point, I wasn't sure what to blame; the style or the beer. Normally I have a benchmark for any style. For Kolsch, I had nothing to compare to as I would normally have, say with an IPA, stout or a sour. This being said, I haven't had another sip of the beer or style from then on again. 

Disappointing. The brewery does have a very good ESB though. 

Which brings us to their newer brew, the Himalayan Red. The ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is a red ale which tastes solid. Maybe the (pale ale) style is something I like but I wouldn't mind going into a pub and ordering a pint (you actually can't) or even going into a supermarket and getting one off the shelf (you can). It's a good brew. 

Note on the Brewery:
Experimenting with European style brews. I feeling is that one of the brewer is from that region. We might even see a farm house ale or a sour coming out the in future, which would be interesting.

Where to find them:
As I said before, Sherpa Brewery has shifted the gear and has invested heavily in branding and marketing. They even sponsored a recent Society of Ex-Budhanilkantha Student (SEBS) event. Although, I would say it's more to do with the connection president of SEBS himself has with the brewery. 

Thamel area and Saleways are two places you will find them for sure. Most high-end restaurants should have them. Ventures Cafe at Baluwatar sell the same cans with a significant mark up. 

That naturally leads us to...

Baluwatar's Ventures Cafe

Great Divide Brewing Co.'s Yeti Imperial Stout at Ventures Cafe
Get's 100 from me.

Ventures Cafe at Balwatar, which is actually owned (partner?) by (as I understand) Vidhan Rana, the current SEBS President. Interestingly, the Cafe has a wider variety of brews both local (Sherpa) and imported (Great Divide Breweing Co, Belgian Ales). The menu has a nice write up on what craft beer is and does a decent job on educating the masses. The best part? they even had this [HERE], a home brew tasting event. 

Me very,very like-y. 

From Saison to Double IPA to Imperial Stouts.
If you have the money, you can do a beer tasting event here.
If you have the money.

The downside? Down right expensive. The Yeti Stout set me back almost Rs. 1200 after all the bullshit tax and service charge. They didn't even have a proper glass so I had to improvise. Drink from a chalice? Yes sir.

Beer to try
It's winter, you might need a sipper. Get the Imperial Stout
Ventures Cafe Facebook [HERE]

Mo:Mo Hut, Thamel

A few comments on ratebeer.com led us to Mo:Mo: Hut last year where they had a small lineup of imported american craft beer. Not to mention a bottle condition of famed Pliney the Elder. The very talkative but well spoken manager/owner said they were working on properly importing craft beer cans. Which meant that cans they were selling wasn't actually legal.

The famed Pliny the Elder in Kathmandu at Mo:Mo Hut
Not for sale though

We were so desperate at that point that any craft beer would have done the business. And we chose what was probably something we shouldn't have at that time. This ale:

Not a big fan of Denver Beer Co.

If you would like to check the place out, here's their official facebook page [HERE].

Saleways Departmental Store

Saleways is the place to go for Belgian Ales

Saleways Departmental store has Westmalle and Chimay Belgian Trappist Ales if you are into them. The prices were actually cheaper than what you would normally pay in South Korea. This being said, it's relatively expensive for someone with an income in Nepal. The price ranges around Rs. 400-500 for a 330ml bottle.

My pick would definitely be Westmalle Tripple although I can see some people prefer Hoegaarden Wit (Wheat Ale) for hot/humid summers. A word of advice though; Hoegaarden brand is owned by the same company that brews Budweiser. A lot of restaurants in Nepal incorrectly tag Budweiser as a craft beer. It's very, very far away from being that.

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That's all I have managed to gather. I would have loved to interview the owners/brewers at Sherpa Brewery and get their side of the story, but unfortunately, I will have to wait till next the time I go back home. Who knows? Perhaps there will be a couple more sprouting out.

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