If you’re looking for an island getaway with a tinge of the exotic, you could do a lot worse than Vanuatu. Only four or so hours flight time from Brisbane, it’s a short trip from mainland Australia to this warm weather paradise surrounded by perfect clear blue waters and filled with smiling happy people.
But no paradise is really a paradise if there isn’t decent beer to drink right? So how is the beer in Vanuatu? Well.
Tusker (not the African one) is the macro-lager style beer of choice in Vanuatu. There are two Tuskers that look almost identical with the only difference being the OP version weighs in at a hefty 7% abv. Both beers as well as Vanuatu Bitter are brewed by Vanuatu Brewing Limited. I think I preferred the OP, and its slightly sweeter, more boozy taste. They were all the kind of light-bodied easy-drinking beer that go down well in a place where it was a perfect 25 degrees all day and night.
Nambawan is the other main brewery in Vanuatu and I ventured to their home in the centre of town called The Brewery. First up I had their Porter, which was quite possibly the worst porter I’ve ever had. You could tell just looking at it something was wrong, the colour was too light, the body too thin and the carbonation too high. The taste didn’t come together and the beer was simply not a porter.
Nambawan also produces a Gold, Draught & Bitter though so I asked the waitress what is the difference between the three and she replied that it was “the taste”. While I was glad she could clear that up for me, I decided to investigate further. I found that the Bitter tried to emulate a VB with a fuller body and harsh bitter finish, while the Draught was more similar to the Tusker though not as clean. I didn’t bother with the mid-strength Gold.
But the search for a good beer in Vanuatu was not over yet. I ventured to the Seven Seas microbrewery at the War Horse Saloon restaurant about 15 minutes outside the capital of Port Vila on a lonely stretch of road near the Mele Cascades. It was there I had my favourite beers of the trip.
From the swinging saloon doors at the front to the boatload of Americana memorabilia, I really liked the kooky venue, and soon found they had some quality American-style food and top-notch beers to boot.
The Happy Dog Porter was how a porter should be, a little thin-bodied but with lots of chocolate and coffee flavours, while the Boots Lager was a handy beer too, tasting like a good German-style pilsener.
Tusker was my drink of choice for the trip. It wasn’t outstanding but I found I did become more favourable towards the beer when lying by a coconut tree looking out at crystal blue waters.I would recommend a trip to the War Horse Saloon if you’re after a decent beer in Vanuatu, but it’s also true that when you’re holidaying on a tropical island paradise just about any cold golden liquid will go down pretty well.