Brew­ing the best in Tai­wan

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY CHI- HAO JAMES LO

One of old­est cel­e­bra­tory bev­er­ages in the world is none other than beer, which has a history that can be dated all the way back to 9500 BCE. Some ar­chae­ol­o­gists have even ar­gued that al­co­hol was in­stru­men­tal in the foun­da­tion of civ­i­liza­tions, shown by the reg­u­la­tion of the drink that was found on the an­cient Code of Ham­murabi as well as the wor­ship of the Me­sopotamian god­dess of beer, Ninkasi.

Through­out history, beer has evolved and adapted to the pal­ettes of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and re­gions, with Ger­man beers be­ing the most rec­og­nized of their kind in mod­ern history. Prior to 1993, Ger­many was also ex­tremely metic­u­lous when it came to beer brew­ing, and re­quired all beers to be brewed un­der the Rein­heits­ge­bot, or the Bavar­ian Pu­rity Law of 1516, only al­low­ing the use of wa­ter, malt, yeast and hops in the process of brew­ing.

To­day, the drink is the most con­sumed al­co­holic bev­er­age in the world, likely the re­sult of its cost and prof­its. Due to the lu­cra­tive prof­its beers pro­vide, a large num­ber of beer com­pa­nies have risen up in the world and it can easily be ob­tained in a can or bot­tle just like soft drinks.

Yet a pop­u­la­tion of craft beer ar­ti­sans still ex­ists in the world, keep­ing true to the art of fine beer brew­ing to bring out the true pleas­ant­ness of stouts, lagers, ciders and ales alike.

Mi­cro­brew­eries are now on the rise in Tai­wan, led by both lo­cal and for­eign con­nois­seurs. Ger­man brewer Roland Bloch is one such in­di­vid­ual, whose ex­per­tise and love for Tai­wan gar­nered the na­tion the ac­co­lade of brew­ing a con­tender for “The World’s Best Pale Beer” in 2014.

The Jour­ney of a Master

With hop pel­lets in hand, Bloch en­thu­si­as­ti­cally pre­sented one of the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ents in brew­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the brewer, the art of brew­ing is based on get­ting the right bal­ance be­tween chem­istry and taste, such as adding the right kinds of hops in the right amounts and at the right time to sta­bi­lize and con­trol the fla­vor of a batch of brew.

A na­tive of Bavaria, Bloch be­gan his ca­reer as a brewer at the age of 16. Af­ter see­ing an ad for an ap­pren­tice in a news­pa­per, Bloch be­came a novice at the Scha­eff Brew­ery, where he was in­tro­duced to the ba­sics of brew­ing both old and new.

“I was lucky be­cause I learned to use the older equip­ment dur­ing the first year of my ap­pren­tice­ship,” Bloch said dur­ing an in­ter­view. “And then in my sec­ond year, they in­stalled new equip­ment that was more mod­ern, which I also learned to op­er­ate in my third year.”

Ea­gar to gain fur­ther knowl­edge fol­low­ing his time as an ap­pren­tice, Bloch left for Wurzburg in Lower Fran­co­nia, where he be­came head brewer at the Golden Ganz Brew­ery for the next five to six years.

About his time at the lo­ca­tion, Bloch said that he was able to gain a lot of con­struc­tive ex­pe­ri­ences as the head brewer with more con­trol and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties from the brew master. Aside from re­fin­ing his skills to be­come the master that he is to­day, Bloch was able to con­duct re­search through talk­ing with cus­tomers and bar­tend­ing at the brew­ery’s part­ner­ing es­tab­lish­ments.

As an avid learner, Bloch went on to study at the Doe­mens Academy in Mu­nich in the Mas­ters pro­gram in Brew­ing and Malt­ing, fin­ish­ing in just two semesters. Bloch’s ad­ven­ture then of­fi­cially took off af­ter earn­ing his de­gree, trav­el­ing first to Ire­land where he learned English and won recog­ni­tion for his brew­ing skills.

Bloch’s jour­ney then took him to Eng­land where he learned about and won an award for English ales in 2000, and then to Spain, Bel­gium, Ja­pan and Scot­land. The brewer’s fi­nal des­ti­na­tion be­fore he be­gan his ca­reer as a com­pany owner landed him in Aus­tralia, where he was able to fully de­velop and per­fect his recipes to win 16 in­ter­na­tional beer awards.

“Brew­ing is a real art, and af­ter learn­ing for so many years, I am so good now that I can run many things by my­self,” the brewer said of his skills. “My strength these days af­ter my ex­penses is that I can smell and taste what I am mak­ing in the brew­ing process with­out hav­ing to mea­sure any­thing; I no longer make beer from the book but from the heart and my belief.”

With all styles of brew­ing un­der his belt, and with a good un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences around the world, Bloch re­turned to Ja­pan in 2010 to be­gin his own brew­ery to pro­duce his own recipes.

How­ever, just as Bloch had ev­ery­thing pre­pared and was ready to launch his com­pany, the brewer came face to face with the Fukushima Dai­ichi nu­clear dis­as­ter in 2011, which put all of his ini­tial plans on hold.

But as a man who doesn’t give up easily, Bloch per­sisted with the es­tab­lish­ment of his com­pany head­quar­ters in Sin­ga­pore. What was left for the brewer to do was then to find a lo­ca­tion where he would be able to use good wa­ter to make his recipes, as well as hav­ing good-qual­ity prod­ucts for him to es­tab­lish his brand, Bloch Brew­ing Co. As fate would have it, Bloch lo­cated his pre­fect coun­try in 2013, where he has since been brew­ing for the past two years.

“I started my com­pany in 2011 in Sin­ga­pore, and then I started to find a place in Asia to start a place for my brew­ery. Af­ter two years of search­ing I fi­nally found my per­fect place! Which is in Long­tan (Taoyuan).”

Ac­cord­ing to Bloch, Tai­wan has the best qual­i­ties of China and Ja­pan, in re­sources, prod­ucts and of course the peo­ple. Af­ter in­vest­ing a lit­tle to up­grade a lo­cal brew­ery in Long­tan, Bloch be­came a part­ner of the fa­cil­ity, where he cur­rently makes SGS-ap­proved brews sold in­ter­na­tion­ally, us­ing only malts im­ported from Hei­del­berg, Ger­many, as well as lo­cally made prod­ucts from bot­tles to stick­ers.

In 2014, Bloch was in­vited to com­pete in the World Beer Awards, where his Four Sea­sons Ale was crowned as the World’s Best Gold: Bit­ter up to 4 per­cent. The brewer’s Finest English Bit­ter and Mango Fruit Beer also took home the Best Asian Gold: Bit­ter Award and Best Asian Gold: Fruit Beer Award, re­spec­tively.

Bloch went on to tally up a to­tal of five awards for his brews dur­ing the course of the com­pe­ti­tion, stat­ing that the award-win­ning recipes all rep­re­sented the coun­try of Tai­wan. Cur­rently, the brewer’s ac­co­lades have en­abled his prod­ucts to be fea­tured on pop­u­lar lo­cal e-com­merce web­sites such as 7-Eleven’s 7net and Food­panda.

“I re­ally love Tai­wan,” Bloch said, “and even­tu­ally I would like to open a big­ger brew­ery here as my main op­er­a­tion. Now, when I en­ter and win com­pe­ti­tions, I say my beer is from Tai­wan, and now my Four Sea­sons Ale is the World’s Best from Tai­wan.”

By Tony Sung, Spe­cial to The China Post

(Top) Lo­cal craft beer brewer Roland Bloch poses with his awards from 2014 in his fac­tory. In 2014, Bloch was in­vited to com­pete in the World Beer Awards, where his Four Sea­sons Ale rep­re­sented Tai­wan to win crown of World’s Best Gold: Bit­ter up to 4 per­cent. (Above) Roland Bloch’s three prized brews are dis­played in his brew­ery. From left to right, Bloch’s Four Sea­sons Ale was crowned as the World’s Best Gold: Bit­ter up to 4 per­cent, while the brewer’s Finest English Bit­ter and Mango Fruit Beer also took home the Best Asian Gold: Bit­ter Award and Best Asian Gold: Fruit Beer Award, re­spec­tively. With hop pel­lets in hand, Roland Bloch ex­plains the brew­ing process of his Made-in-Tai­wan craft beers. Af­ter in­vest­ing a lit­tle to up­grade a lo­cal brew­ery in Long­tan, Bloch be­came a part­ner in the fa­cil­ity, where he cur­rently makes SGS-ap­proved Tai­wan brews that are sold in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.