The hot and sultry weather prevailing in Thailand for most of the year will titillate you to guzzle endless cans of beer. The Thais do not gravitate beyond Chang, Leo, and Singha-the top three beers of Thailand that come cheap. Even the expatriates and travelers seem to have developed a penchant for these Thai beers.
The chief reason why Thais have drifted towards locally brewed beers, boils down to simple economics. Importing international brands like Heineken and Carlsberg attracts steep taxies and it is illegal to brew lager at home. However, the intense popularity of Leo and Chang does not imply that you can’t look beyond the local offerings.
And you do not need to dig too deep to discover what is lurking underneath. Contrary to popular belief, and surprisingly enough, Thai beers taste great and can give Western brands a run for their money. Guzzling beers became popular in Thailand since the early 20th cent and the country has been brewing craft beer since 1933.
Leo, one of Thailand’s most admired beers, is a relatively robust lager with an ABV rating of 5%. However, the fact that the label on the bottle showing a leopard (instead of a lion) staring hard, should not discourage beer aficionados from trying the Leo. Leo is lighter compared to Chang which means that chances of having a hangover after quaffing a couple of bottles are slim. Many beer enthusiasts do not know that Boon Rawd Brewery owns both Leo and Singha brands.
Leo occupies a sizable slice of the Thai beer market; nearly 33%. In terms of price, Leo sits midway between Singha and Chang-Singha is costlier whereas Chang comes cheaper.
Singha easily wins hands down as Thailand’s best selling beer. On the other hand, of all the Thai beers, Singha is the most renowned beer from a global perspective. Singha has been going strong since 1933 and since the past few decades, the product has been exported worldwide.
The beer brand takes its name from the Sanskrit word ‘simha’ and the Hindi word ‘Singh’ which means lion. You can see the light golden color with a creamy head when you pour Singha into a large beer glass. Saaz, Hallertau, and Perle-the three hops used for brewing Singha-impart to the beer its typical invigorating lager-type aroma.
The beer has a pleasant and refreshing effect on the palate with an aftertaste that is somewhat acerbic. Order plates of spicy food while you look forward to guzzling down tons of Singha!
If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly beer that’ll keep you in high spirits during your peregrinations in Bangkok and Phuket, then Chang is your best bet. Chang is the hot favorite of backpackers and budget globetrotters as this pilsner tastes amazingly good, given its price. Chang is cheaper than the top two brands, Singha and Leo but is as robust and revitalizing as the latter.
For many years, locals and tourists preferred Chang over Singha and Leo, thanks to its higher ABV (6.4%v/v). Thai Beverage (brewer) toned the Chang’s ABV down to 5.2% and launched the refurbished brand under a new name-Chang Classic. Strong beer enthusiasts will also appreciate the fact that many restaurants dotted throughout Thailand exclusively stock Chang.
With an ABV of 4.7%, Full Moon Chalawan Pale Ale helps you to keep yourself calm and cool in Thailand’s sultry weather. This IPA truly lives up to its name ‘Chalawan’ (Thai for alligator), having a biting yet becalming effect. You’ll be able to distinguish the sour tang of the Full Moon Pale Ale with a nuanced aftertaste of fruitiness.
You’ll definitely like to quaff off this PA when the bartender tells you that the brand bagged gold in 2016 World Beer Awards. You’ll warm up to the beer’s appetizing flavor that has a becalming effect, especially on humid days and nights. Full Moon Brewery, located in Phuket, which distills this beer, is a reputed craft brewery, brewing many other lagers.
Boon Rawd Brewery brews the Kloster beer (a pale ale) under license from the German brewer-Klauster Brauerei. Since the celebrated Thai brewer strictly adheres to German brewing techniques, the beer has a heady effect on you. The color of Kloster is a crystal clear golden yellow and has a white, effervescent top that smells good.
Sipping the beer slowly, releases an amazing burst of flavors, dominated by whiffs of corn and malt. The Kloster is in a league of its own when compared with the traditional Thai craft beers. Your palate will be left with a bittersweet and fruity aftertaste after you’ve downed a glass or two.
Apart from Chang, Thai Brewery brews another quality lager-Archa- that enjoys a good following in this Southeast Asian country. Archa is pretty affordable, cheaper than most Thai beer brands, and with an ABV of 5.4%, it’s also quite strong. Nevertheless, this lager is more popular with the locals and you’re not likely to find it in bars frequented by tourists.
However, a particular section of expatriates have a weakness for the Archa because of its strong flavor. If you want to brave the country’s hot and oppressive weather without splurging, then the Archa is your best bet.
The citrusy tang of Pug Citra explodes inside your mouth, no wonder the beer’s name is suffixed with ‘bomb’ word. You won’t have any trouble identifying this beer as the image of the dog breed clearly gives it away. Pug Citra Bomb is one of the best IPAs you’ll find in Thailand as you’ll love its robust citrus zest.
The lemony flavor is somewhat sour but enjoyable all the same and nicely balanced with aromas of pineapple and herbs.
If there is any local beer that matches the ‘Singha’ in terms of flavors, then it has to be Full Moon Phuket Lager. Drinking Phuket Lager is akin to visiting an exotic destination that is yet to become popular with tourists. Fragrant jasmine rice, indigenous to Thailand, is used for brewing this beer. The lager has a distinctive pale golden hue and exudes a wide range of flavors, especially passion fruit and pineapple.
Nectar Amber Ale goes the whole hog, encompassing a comprehensive range of essences that ranges from mildly sweet to moderately bitter. Notes of mango and citrus dominate over other flavors and the moderate carbonation charms your palate. Without exaggerating a bit, Nectar Amber Ale is Thailand’s most eclectic beer
The Eleventh Fort Sweet Child O’ Mine’s dark color will make you wonder if this spirit is actually a beer. However, better sense will prevail as you start taking mouthfuls of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. Eleventh Fort Brewing Co. has taken beer brewing to a new level by blending molasses, liquorice, and chocolate. If you’re willing to experiment with a lager that does not appear and tastes like one, then settle for the Sweet Child O’ Mine.