To the brew-loving folk of the Commonwealth, An "Mekong" Bui is the patron saint of good beer. The chief beer officer at Mekong Vietnamese Restaurant (6004 W. Broad St., 288-8929) has tasted more than 10,000 sudsy beverages from across the globe, and a handful have left an impression on the self-proclaimed beer-vangelist. He shares a few worldly suggestions:
Brasserie Fontaine Montagnes Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (11 percent alcohol)
Taste: Strong sour ale.
An Says: "This cuvée, luminous amber in color, matures for months in oak barrels that previously contained wine or other spirits. It is the oak barrels that give this beer the manifold complex aromas. On the palate, the brew reminds one of fruity red wines with a pronounced acidity."
Val Dieu Grand Cru (10.5 percent alcohol)
Taste: Dark, spicy, with aroma of roasted malt, chocolate and port wine.
An Says: "So many great Belgian beers, but here's one. From Brasserie De L'Abbaye Du Val-Dieu, this is the latest addition from Cistercian abbey of Val-Dieu. It tastes so smooth."
La Trappe Isid'or (7.5 per cent alcohol)
Taste: Slightly sweet amber, hints of caramel and a fruity aftertaste.
An Says: "Brewed by Trappist monks with the self-cultivated Perle hop. Worldwide, only seven Trappist beers remain. Six of these come from Belgium, one comes from the Netherlands, and that is La Trappe. Beer can only be called 'Trappist' if it is brewed at a Trappist monastery under the supervision and responsibility of the monks."
Dieu de Ciel Peche Mortel (9.5 percent alcohol)
Taste: Imperial stout, pronounced coffee flavor.
An Says: "This is an incredible stout with very pronounced roasted flavors. Fair-trade coffee is infused during the brewing process, helping to intensify the bitterness of the beer and giving it a powerful taste."
Hitachino Nest White Ale (5 percent alcohol)
Taste: Belgian-style witbier, hints of coriander, nutmeg and orange.
An Says: "The mouth feel is crisp and well carbonated. To me this is the best beer from Japan."
An says: "All the beers taste like crap."