Taiwan is not a haven for good beer in Asia. It was definitely better than the variety in Vietnam, but came nowhere close to Japan. Most beer bars in Taipei serve a nice variety of Belgian beers, but little else. The market is dominated by Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp., which makes Taiwan Beer in all its bland varieties. There are a few exceptions.
I arrived in time for a seasonal brew
When I first arrived, there was a newly-released beer: Taiwan Weissbier. As the name suggests, it’s a wheat beer. There’s nothing special about this beer, but it is rare to find such beers in Asia, which I find odd because most people around Asia like this style of beer. It goes pretty well with salty or spicy foods, and it’s especially good in the summer.
There was also a beer I enjoyed a bit more called M!NE (alright, so it sounds self-centered to drink this beer, but I don’t care). M!NE is a schwarzbier, or dark lager, that has a decent malt. It’s not as good with spicy food, but it goes great with the lighter Taiwanese fare. It was also a great beer for the cooler nights during my first month in Taipei.
Toward the end of my stay, I ventured out to bars around Gongguan and found an outdoor bar next to the water park. At this bar I found a few Taiwanese microbrews from North Taiwan Brewing. These beers were so hard to find that I told long-time expats about it and they had never heard of the company. I never saw them anywhere other than the bar–and I never learned the bar’s name.
The first North Taiwan Brewing beer was an abbey ale and that was rich and smooth and 6% ABV. They also make an 8% abbey ale that isn’t as smooth, a little sweeter, and a bit heavier. I actually prefer the 8% abbey ale because it had a stronger flavor. The lighter version is similar to a decent brown ale, but not quire on the same level as Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog, which is still my favorite brown ale.
North Taiwan Brewing also had a white ale that I found to be a bit lacking. I thought the Taiwan Weissbier was better.