If you follow this blog, you know I have a thing for beer. I’ve been compiling all the different beers I’ve tried here in the country and during trips abroad. Each country has its own signature brew, which I look for and try whenever I travel to a new place. For me, travel and beer really go together. Nothing ends a great day of sightseeing than relaxing with a bottle of ice-cold beer and a good meal. Here are just a few of the most popular and iconic beers I’ve sampled around Southeast Asia.
CAMBODIA: Angkor Beer
Cambodia’s national beer, Angkor is named after the iconic Khmer Angkor temples near Siem Reap, which is depicted on the beer’s red label. Classified as a lager, the beer is full bodied with soft bitterness and light hoppy aroma and a pleasant aftertaste. The beer is refreshing, light and very drinkable especially on hot days. The beer can be found in 640ml bottles, 320ml cans, 320ml bottles and on tap. Aside from Angkor Beer, Cambodia has other interesting Khmer booze including Cambodia, Kingdom and Klang.
INDONESIA: Bintang Beer
While foreign beer brands are widely available in Indonesian restaurants, for a local touch, try Bintang Beer (or “Star Beer”), produced by the Indonesian subsidiary of Heineken, which it is often compared to in taste and look. Bintang Beer is a light, malty lager has a hint of Dutch influence in its taste, though it hails from Bintang, a beautiful region of Indonesia home to some of the greatest beaches. This is the bestselling brand in Indonesia and is a favorites of locals and tourists since it provides the perfect thirst-quencher to the tropical climate.
Beerlao is very popular with foreign tourists and expats who’ve visited the scenic country of Laos. It was even ranked as Asia’s best local beer by Time Magazine. Beerlao uses a blend of locally grown jasmine rice, overseas quality malt and hops, giving the beer a distinctive taste. Beerlao lager and gold contains 5 % alcohol volume,
while the full-bodied Beerlao Dark has 6.5%. Be sure to try it at one of the riverside restaurants along the Mekong River in Vientiane, Laos’ capital city. You can also find Beerlao in neighboring countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
As an Islamic state, Malaysia doesn’t have its own national beer, though you can find various European, South East Asian, and other international brews here. Carlsberg and Heineken are very popular here as well as other Asian brands like Tiger, Guinness’ Anchor. The last time I was in Malaysia, I only got to try Chang Beer (originally from Thailand) in Malacca. Malaysia has a very high alcohol tax, so drinking beer there can be pretty expensive. I’ve read that craft beer in Malaysia is on the rise though.
PHILIPPINES: San Miguel Beer
If there’s one beer that represents the Philippines, I have to give it to San Miguel Pale Pilsen (5% ABV). This is the most popular and most widely available beer for the masses, commonly ordered in buckets in restaurants and bars. You can find this almost anywhere in the country. It’s just your average, easy to drink pilsen. Read more about Mainstream beers in the Philippines.
SINGAPORE: Tiger Beer
Tiger is Singapore’s first locally brewed beer which is popular throughout Asia. Its distinctive amber bottle protects the beer from aging too fast, keeping the dry-hopped beer (5%) rich and full. Light and easy to drink, with a slightly sharp aftertaste, Tiger is a great complement to spicy dishes. You can also find Tiger beer being sold in hawker centers serving street food like oyster cake or Singapore’s signature chili crab.
THAILAND: Singha Beer
Known as Thailand’s top beer, Singha is a bright gold lager (6%) with a hoppy flavor, brewed by the Boon Rawd Brewery. Singha also appears in Thailand in Light (3.5%) and draught versions. Singha is named after the mythological lion shown on the label,
famous in Hindu and Thai folklore. Made of full-bodied 100% barley malt lager, Singha beer is distinctively rich in taste with strong hop characters best served chilled. Read more: Food Trip: Thailand.
VIETNAM: Saigon Beer
Vietnam has a wide range of locally-made beers sold in bottles and cans including Saigon Beer, the country’s most popular brand, which is brewed and bottled in Ho Chi Minh City and widely available everywhere. Another cool beer experience for tourists is sampling bia hoi or fresh beer, dubbed “the drink of the masses” for its low alcohol content and cheap prices.
I haven’t been to East Timor, Brunei and Myanmar yet, though I’ve read that East Timor and Brunei don’t have their own national beers. I’m hoping to visit Myanmar soon so that I can add their brews like Myanmar and Dagon Beer to my Southeast Asian Beer Map. 🙂