Ondy Sweeting goes gaga for craft beer Stark.
Deep in northern Bali the village of Banyuning Selatan is the epicentre of premium craft beer production in Indonesia – and it is creating a product so fine that Canggu hipsters and artisan-loving gastronomes are hopping with delight.
Stark is the six-year-old beer baby of friends Bona Budhisurya and Jacob Surynata, who have determined to develop a world class Indonesian craft beer. It’s not surprising given that Jacob was raised in Austria, speaks fluent German and loves brewing.
The duo’s approach to brewing is grounded in a philosophy that rejects chemicals and preservatives, uses thrice filtered spring water, high quality hops from Australia, yeast from Europe and sources superb malt from all over the globe. Importantly a heavy dose of passion is apparent in each of the seven varieties of Stark beer.
Given this perfect storm of quality, creativity and devotion, Stark beers have appeared on the menus on some of Bali’s culinary heavy hitters. The low carb and low sugar beer – LC Lager – is Potato Head’s house beer and it’s on the menu at the stand out Indonesian restaurant Merah Putih, the French diner Metis, the world class Lacavore in Ubud and its cocktail bar Night Rooster, Biku restaurant and the five star resorts Double Six, Alila, the Mulia and Jimbaran’s Ayana.
While this may sound like a coup for the company, the fact is that Stark beer is fresh, produced in quality controlled small batches and has been taken to a market that is desperate to sample something other than the big commercial brands of lager. Stark is also educating the staff of every client with tastings and varietal characteristics, food pairing, flavours and even how to pour properly. This effort is paying off with its star rising on the gourmet scene.
Stark – which means ‘strong’ in German – has honed a line of house-brewed suds starting with its flagship label Stark Wheat Beer. The brew master explored, tested, tried and developed a light beer, dark beer, fruit beer, a pilsner and local pale ale.
This is created from a mix of barley and high quality Balinese rice and delivers a complex range of flavours. It is reminiscent of popular Japanese beers due to its composition of rice. It goes well with any rice dish particularly nasi kuning and corn on the cob.
Stark Dark Wheat Beer
This is a melange of Flemish red ale and Germany’s famous dunkelweizen – or dark ale. With elaborate tastes of multi-level malt this beer often tastes like cloves and tropical fruits such as bananas. Expect this drop to be dark and murky from the yeast. Drink it with any roasted meat, particularly chicken. It’s also wonderful with Dutch cheeses.
This delicately sweet tropical beer is fabulous when served super cold on a hot day. It is light with a cloudy golden tinge and a moderate crown. It is very refreshing and easy on the palate. Mango Ale is perfect paired with salads and casual dining such as Mexican or BBQ seafood.
This is a fruity and lightly sweet beer that has fresh flavours, a golden colour and strong lychee taste that is not dissimilar to lychee ice tea. Pair it with fruit salad, fried chicken or sushi for a sensational lunch.
Stark LC Lager
Dieters will adore this brew since it is low carbohydrate and low sugar at a ratio of 3:1. With full body flavours and health benefits, the LC Lager is the beautiful blond of the collection with less than 35% carb content and calories compared to standard lager. The hops bring a subtle bitterness, which goes well with fish, prawns and everything vegan.
Stark Indonesian Pale Ale
This IPA tastes like summer with plenty of hops that give it a delicious aroma and flavour. It is a tribute to the Indian Pale Ale that was produced by the British Raj in India. It is marginally bitter, quite malty and a little bit sweet with a medium body and lots of hops. Drink it with spicy food, which is perfect for Indonesian dishes. It’s fabulous with babi guling – Balinese roast pork.
Stark Wheat Beer
This is the brewer’s mother lode artisanal beer created by Stark’s original Hungarian master brewer and is Bali’s favourite craft beer. This is a wheat beer tailor made for the tropics with tones of yeast, fruit and spice with tingling bubbles bursting with a subtle and citrusy pomelo tang. Match it with salads, soups and sushi.