Regarding the mustache, he told me not to get the wrong idea.
“Don’t get the wrong idea,” he said. “Normally I don’t have this mustache. I’m growing it for Movember. Do you know Movember?”
“Yeah, I do,” I said.
“Basically you grow a mustache, and you get people to, uh, donate money to support, uhhh…”
“To support growing your mustache.”
“Yeah. And the money goes to prostate cancer. Testicular cancer. Men’s health.”
“Right, right. I’m familiar with Movember.”
I wasn’t sure what wrong idea he thought I might have. My idea, until that point, was that he was just another chatty guy who wanted to talk beer at The Roundhouse. I had that idea because every time I’m at The Roundhouse, by the end of the night somebody has chatted me up about the beers, or about life in Hong Kong, or about why was I in Hong Kong?
I didn’t have the idea that he was hitting on me, if that’s what he was inferring, not that it would have mattered if he were. What wrong idea? That he was friendly? Interested in beer? Whatever the idea that I was not supposed to and didn’t have, Movember made sure to clear the air.
Perhaps the concern stemmed from the mustache’s nervous appearance. It was thin and uncertain and let’s be honest, it was what one might call “a pedo mustache.” No hard feelings, but that Movember mustache did made him look like a pedo. A young Hong Kong banker pedo, slight in stature, but friendly enough, and I’m sure there are plenty of friendly pedos. (Well, we know they’re particularly friendly with some people, but let’s not sink too deep down into this gutter.) Later Movember said that he did, in fact, work in banking; his girlfriend, he explained, worked with NGOs.
Come to think of it, maybe he thought I was the one hitting on him, and worried that his nervous mustache conveyed the wrong idea because, you know, gay men have mustaches.
I didn’t think he was hitting on me, but he could have been, and it didn’t feel like I was hitting on him, but boy he sure was friendly. He did, at one point, gaze at me for an awfully long time, eyes twinkling as if watching fuzzy bunny rabbits hop through a field of rainbows and lollipops. He was rather touchy, too, as we talked craft beer, life in Hong Kong, and what I was doing in Hong Kong, patting me on the back and shoulders like an old friend he hadn’t seen since college.
We were polishing off pints of Mikkeller beer at The Roundhouse, which on that particular Thursday evening was heaving and hosting a Mikkeller Tap Takeover.
The young banker first introduced himself by warning that I shouldn’t drink any of the Mikkeller beers. “I would recommend that you don’t try these beers. They aren’t very good,” he said, as I reviewed the tap list. “I like IPAs, you know, American IPAs, but this one just isn’t any good.”
“Hmm… I actually quite like Mikkeller beers,” I said. “I mean, they aren’t all good. He brews something like 300 beers a year, so there are bound to be some losers. Overall, though, yeah, I like Mikkeller. But the prices…”
Beers from the roving, Copenhagen-based brewery founded by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø flowed through 12 of the bar’s 25 taps that evening. There was the IPA that my new friend with the pedo ‘stache who didn’t want me to get the wrong idea didn’t like. There was a red lager brewed specificially for a Copenhagen restaurant called Amass, and there was a pilsner brewed for a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. There was a Trappist-style ale, a breakfast stout, a sour-apple ale.
There was a pale ale born from a “science project” collaboration between Bjergsø and students from a school at which he used to teach. For that one, he brewed the beer in the school’s kitchen after school, after all the bad kids were released from detention. (Do they still do detention?) That beer, Det Frie Gymnasium, as with so many Mikkeller beers, is what you might call a “narrative beer.”
Behind me, a blond girl espoused more words of warning to anybody who would listen, though I was uncertain to which beer she was referring.
“It’s horrible! Hahaha! It tastes like fucking perfume! Hahaha!”
When I walked by her on my way to the restroom, her perfume smelled like morning hangover.
The jolly drunks – The Roundhouse draws a chatty, jolly crowd, one of the reasons I named it once upon a time as one of Asia’s best beer bars for CNN Travel – began filtering out at around 10pm, but I still had another one in me. My friend with the mustache had left already, so I asked a guy wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap if he’d tried the Amass B&W IPA, described as a “US West Coast-style IPA” that was “citrusy, tropical, and piney, as per the style, but not overloaded with hops.”
Just to be clear, this was the IPA for which my mustachioed friend didn’t care.
“That one is amazing,” said Baltimore Orioles Cap. “I tried every single one of ‘em, man, and that one is amazing.”
“Oh, shit, every one? Nice. Have a favorite…?”
He picked up a sheet that listed the Mikkeller tap takeover beers, then provided one- to five-word reviews of each one, pointing at each beer’s name as he went.
“Uh, okay: shit, shit, amazing, more amazing, okay, total shit.”
He flipped it over.
“Okay, I fucking love this beer, shit, shit, amazing, pretty good.”
Final count: one pretty good, two okays, four amazings (including an ‘I fucking love this beer’), five shits. He grinned drunkenly, handed back the sheet, and raised his pint glass for a toast.
Before Movember alighted we talked about craft beer. Craft beer in Hong Kong, in Singapore, and all the craft breweries he’d visited on the US West Coast. His favorite breweries, my favorites. The mid-range dining scene in Hong Kong, the rents in Singapore and Hong Kong. Banking. Writing. Nice guy, good conversation. I almost always have good conversations with random people at The Roundhouse. I usually don’t get the wrong idea.
Movember said he’d been to Singapore three times this year on business, so I told him to try and find Smith Street Taps next time he was in town. I said he’d like it because eveybody likes it. At that, he gave me his business card and told me to email him. “All right, Brian, nice talking to you, man. And you’re going to email me tomorrow, right?”
“Haha, maybe not tomorrow, but I will…”
“Okay, email me soon then. Talk to you later.”
He patted me on the back like an old friend and left the bar, heading home to his girlfriend. I didn’t have the wrong idea. It was just another night at The Roundhouse.
The Roundhouse is located at 62 Peel Street, Central District, Hong Kong. Open 12pm – 1am daily. +852 2366 4880.