Tag Archives: Corona

Guidance for 2012

It’s 2012 here in Hong Kong, and has been for some hours. My resolution for this year is not to be such a grumpily aggressive bastard online, although I have at least one rant to get out of the way first. However, I have tried to put together a list of precepts to blog by over the coming 12 months, rules I hope we can all agree on. There are, in fact, just three:

1) It’s only beer.

2) It’s all about the taste.

3) You like what you like. I like what I like.

There: who could possibly object to any of that? You agree? Excellent. Now I’m going to test you. Have a brown paper bag handy, and read this, which is a genuine comment grabbed from the web during 2011:

So, under the recommendation of a few people online, I bought myself a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. And I have to say… It’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Normally I stuck to more mainstream pale lagers, such as Corona Extra, Budweiser and Peroni, so was a bit cautious about trying this, and as I opened it up, the rich beer smell really hit me, and I was expecting a bitter, overpowering flavour. Nevertheless, I tried a gulp of it… And it went down like water! Yet, the flavour was there, and strong, but not overpowering by any means. It’s fairly refreshing, although I will say you should only drink it when it’s cold, it tastes much better to me.

OK, blow into the brown paper bag and place it over your nose and mouth … breathe in and out slowly … repeat after me: “It’s only beer … It’s all about the taste … You like what you like. I like what I like.” Feeling better now? Good.

Really, if people like things you don’t like, it doesn’t matter. And nor does it matter if they don’t like things that you adore. There are, in fact, amazingly few things a majority of people can agree on, and almost none that everybody votes for: we live in a world of pluralities and minorities. You can live with that, or you can drive up your blood pressure. If you enjoy something that someone else doesn’t, well, just enjoy your enjoyment. And if they enjoy something you can’t see the point of, that’s really not your problem. Have a good year.

So what beers does a seven-star hotel serve?


The Burj Al Arab – the second-tallest hotel in the world, and deliberately designed to be an architectural icon in the same world-class league as the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House – is a spectacular place to take afternoon tea. The arrogant, curving exterior, more than a thousand feet tall, demands that you admit you’ve never seen any building like it. The blingtastic interior is a triumph of money over taste, with 20-feet-high aquaria in the lobby, gold leaf on almost every surface, fancy fountains and waterfalls. Book a table in the Skyview Bar, 27 floors up, just below the helipad, about half an hour before sunset. To the east you’ll see out of the ceiling-to-floor windows the Burj Khalifa, half a mile high from tip to sandal-sole, flare orange-gold as it catches the descending sun’s rays. Look west, and the Palm Jumeirah, a three-mile-wide collection of artificial islands covered in expensive homes and more expensive hotels, is gunmetal dark against the gleaming deep turquoise of the early evening Arabian Gulf.

Afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, calls itself a “seven-star hotel”, though official designations only go up to five stars. Its labours in attempting to give guests a seven-star experience include having the names of everyone who books afternoon tea (at £70 a head – though to be fair this is only a little more than the Ritz in London charges for the same experience, and a much poorer view) mapped to a specific table, and that map then memorised by the staff, so that even the smiling Filipina who comes to top up your Darjeeling will address you by name. The food was, as it should be, excellent: the slice of pastry-wrapped salmon served before the sandwiches and pastries came up on a Burj Al Arab-shaped cakestand was perhaps the most perfectly cooked fish I have eaten, whipped from the chef’s domain and arriving on my plate at exactly the correct second. I have rarely enjoyed teatime food more: as both a gastronomic experience and hotel theatre, it gave value for every dirham.

But as you politely refuse the last proffered chocolate, lest you do a Mr Creosote, there is the opportunity to finish with a flourish: how about a beer at the bar itself, as the sun’s final gleam disappears from the darkening sky somewhere out over Qatar? The chance to sip something foaming and hoppy on a barstool 660 feet above the sea probably won’t return for a long time. What acme of the brewer’s art does the Burj Al Arab offer its seven-star customers? Continue reading So what beers does a seven-star hotel serve?