Have You Tried These South-East Asian Beers?

Have You Tried These South-East Asian Beers?
Indulge in the unique beers from these South Asian countries, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Refreshing and unique, try out our recommendations when you visit these South-East Asian countries

Sahana Iyer
October 21 , 2019
16 Min Read

A chilled serving of beer is the ideal way to unwind after a tedious journey to a foreign country. After all, we may speak different languages and have distinct cultures but at the end of the day, we all like beer. While everyone knows of the common brands available worldwide, it may be time to allow your palate to explore new flavours. Especially when you are travelling to South-East Asia. All the countries offer an overwhelming range of food and drinks and hence, also give you a chance to try out their local beers. If you find yourself on a plane to any of the following countries, feel free to indulge in our recommendations:

THAILAND

 
 
 
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Chang

Established in 1995, Chang is a popular beer in the country, known for its full flavour and crisp golden colour. Best served chilled, the beer has a subtle aroma of fruit. The brand claims that their deep water wells that extract water from 200 metres underground, provide soft water that is low in mineral content and free of contaminants. If you can’t wait long enough to go to the country and try this beer, don’t fret. Chang beer is internationally distributed in 50 countries, including India, USA, Russia, Canada and Switzerland.

 
 
 
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Singha

Brewed by Boon Rawd Brewery, the oldest known brewery in the country, Singha is another well-known drink in the country established in 1933. The logo features a golden lion, which is inspired by the name attributed to the four great lions in Thai literature believed to be the king of the Himmapan forest. The beer is considered to be rich in taste with a prominent white head. 

What to eat: Thai food is known to be spicy, the general profile matching well with a drink like beer. One must try Naem sausages (fermented Thai pork sausages) or Thai Massaman chicken curry with rice to satisfy the craving for something spicy with the beer. 

SINGAPORE

 
 
 
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Tiger

Anyone who has visited Singapore, has probably seen this around. While Tiger provides various options such as Tiger White, Tiger Black and even Tiger Crystal, we here will discuss the original. Launched in 1932, this beer is a pale lager that provides a full-bodies taste. While the beer is brewed in Singapore, ingredients are imported from Australia and Europe. It is interesting that the beer is brewed for 500 hours, and only using solar power. In fact, you can opt for a tour of the Tiger brewery to better understand the process while trying beer and maybe buying their merchandise.

What to eat:

There are simply too many multi-cuisine dishes to pair your beer with in Singapore. However, we recommend hogging the delectable street food. Sweet and spicy chicken rice or sour, savoury and spicy bak chor mee (mixed noodle dish) complement the beer well. You could also try orh luak (oyster omelette) for a distinct taste.

LAOS

 
 
 
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Beerlao

We would not be surprised if you have heard of this beer before. This multi-award winning beer is brewed by Lao brewery, who have been in action since 1973. Under European Brewery Convention approved methods, the brewery also manufactures carbonated drinks and bottled water. You can get Beerlao in two varieties: the white lager and the dark version. The beer is a light, clear golden with a thick frothy head. The beer is made keeping in mind the ways sustainable manufacturing methods. 

What to eat:

Foods from Laos tend to be more salty than sweet. This is perfect to cut the bitterness of the beer. Try Sui Oua, pork sausages that are infused with herbs with a subtle sour taste; or Sin Dat, a Lao barbeque with assorted meats and vegetables. Ping Moo, grilled pork served with sticky rice is another delicacy to try. The more daring tourists can explore fried insects (crickets and waterbugs) to wash down with a pint of Beerlao.

VIETNAM

 
 
 
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Bia Hoi

The drink that brings the people of Vietnam together, Bia Hoi is a light draft beer that was left by the French, along with the Hommel Brewery, which soon became Hanoi Brewery in 1954. The beer is a Vietnamese signature and a mild, watered down drink with only 4% alcohol content. It is perfect for those on a penny-pinching budget, thanks to its modest price. In fact, one can travel to Bia Hoi corner, where the street is lined with colourful stools of green, red and blue. Locals come together in astonishing numbers to get a glass of this concoction. You might find someone even buy you a glass (thanks to the cheap price) to welcome you.

 
 
 
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Bia Sagon 

Another popular drink in Vietnam is Bia Sagon. The beer pours golden and has a medium sized frothy head. It is a crisp lager with a slightly sour taste. Produced in Ho Chi Minh city, the beer is produced with a red and green label. The red label is used to export and is said to be slightly stronger than the green label created for the locals. Strangely, it is not unusual for the locals to drink the beer with ice cubes. 

What to eat:

A little spice and meat is perfect with a cold beer (especially one you drink with ice). We suggest a Banh Mi sandwich, a baguette like bread filled with meat and vegetables. It is common for people drinking, to munch on roasted peanuts, rice crackers or crispy pumpkin seeds.  

CAMBODIA

 
 
 
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Angkor

The most widely consumed beer in the country, Angkor lager is a drink of full, rich flavour with a fast diminishing, medium white head. The name is inspired by the Khmer Angkor temples. It is manufactured at Sambrew Brewery at Sihanoukville. The brewery is known to be in production since 1963, and manufacture so much beer that what one receives could be as fresh as less than 3 hours old. The beer is clear gold, and is known to have slight bitterness to its taste. 

What to eat:

There are several dishes you can choose from. We would suggest Amok which is a fish- based curry served in a banana leaf with rice and fried eggs. You could also opt for fresh spring rolls. Unlike the kind we are used to, these are not fried. Filled with meats and vegetables, they are served with a dip of chillies, peanuts and limes. Do not miss out on Beef Lok lak, which is beef cooked in lime and pepper sauce served with eggs and fried potatoes. 

INDONESIA

 
 
 
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Bir Bintang

Arguably the most popular beer in the country, Bir Bintang is found in almost any outlet that serves alcohol. A golden, refreshing drink, the beer itself does not particularly have any distinctive taste. The beer has a short white head. In fact, it is often found to be compared with Heineken beer (Bintang is a part of the company itself). A mild beer, Bintang is easy on the palate and can be enjoyed by almost everyone. The name means star in Indonesian. The company also produces a non-alcoholic version called Bintang Zero.

What to eat:

When you are enjoying a Bir Bintang in Indonesia, it is not uncommon to find fried peanuts and melinjo crackers served along with it. However, if you wish to taste something more authentic to the country, try their barbeque assortments, grilled fish or rica rica, a meat dish cooked in an enormous amount of spices, especially red chilli. 

SRI LANKA

 
 
 
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Lion

The number one brewery in the country, Lion is a popular drink in Sri Lanka available in various versions, including lager, stout, and strong. The lager is their top seller. A mild beer, it is a golden roasted malt with undertones of fruit and caramel flavouring. The drink is slightly sweet. The beer is made at Lion Brewery (Ceylon) PLC, who claim to be using traditional recipes and techniques since 1860. The lion on the label symbolises visionary leadership and power. 

What to eat: 

Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its fiery flavours, undoubtedly delicious with a pint of beer. Rice and curry are a staple in the country and fortunately go well with beer. Curries can have meat or vegetables and are found in many variants, including garlic, jackfruit, aubergine and pumpkin. You could also try the spicy devilled prawns or Bittara Appa, the wok like shaped batter with a fried egg in the middle.

A few more South East Asian beers you must try are: San Miguel Pale Pilsner and Red Horse from the Philippines, Tsing Tao from China and Asahi Super Dry from Japan.


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