Beer in Asia – 啤酒, bia, เบียร์

For the past 3 weeks I’ve been backpacking in Asia. I visited China (Guangzhou), Hong Kong, South Vietnam, All of Cambodia and Thailand (Bangkok and surrounding area).

I had no idea what to expect when it came to my beer options. I knew it would be majority lager choices similar to my previous trips in Asia – Indonesia and India.

Here are the list of beers I  tried in each country:
China/Hong Kong – Tsingtao, Pearl River, Sam Miguel, Asahi, perhaps a few others that had but the label in Chinese that I couldn’t read.
Vietnam – Saigon, 333, Tiger Crystal, Biere Larue Export, BGI
Cambodia – Angkor, Leo, Phnom Penh, Bayon, Ankor Smooth, Black Panther, Beerlao
Thailand – Tiger, Singha, Chang

Here are some of my observations on beer in SE Asia:

China/Hong Kong

  • Price = $0.75
  • Percentage = 3.3% to 3.6%
  • The beers came mostly in cans.
  • There was a European options in Hong Kong (ie. Tetley, Kronenbourg 1664)  however it was very expensive – $6-$7.
  • Beer service – you had to ask for a glass everytime you ordered a beer, even at an expensive/high end restaurant.

 Vietnam

  • Price = $0.75 to $1
  • Percentage = 4.0% to 4.7%
  • Beers came mostly in bottles and you had the option of a big or small bottle. I didn’t find too many places with draft beer.
  • Beer service – all beers game with a glass. Inside the glass was a big piece of ice taking up half the glass! At first I thought this was for touristy places. However we ate lunch at a local cafe and even the locals were served beer this way! When I took out the ice or asked for no ice they found this a bit puzzling.

Cambodia

  • Price = $1.50 to $2, happy hour draft = $0.50
  • Percentage = 5% to 8%
  • Beers came in bottles and cans and were named after big cities! In Cambodia I had my first Ale – Black Panther (8%)! It was in a local food market and was recommended by a local as being ‘The best beer in Cambodia.’
  • In the local restaurants they serve salted fried worms as a beer snack.
  • Beer service– Again no beers came with a glass unless you asked or if it was happy hour draft beer.

Thailand

  • Price = $2.00 to $3.00, Pitcher = $6
  • Percentage = 5% – 7.6%
  • Beers came mostly in draft form in almost all restaurants – Usually only one option – Chang, which apparently won a Gold Metal at the Australia International beer awards, as indicated on the pitcher.
  • Beer service– Almost all Pitchers came with 2 frozen glasses !!!

 In General I observed that all restaurants we went to you have the option of beer or cocktails. Wine wasn’t readily available. Our final night in China we were looking for a place that served wine. We went to 3 places and we were unsuccessful! We were told if we want wine we need to bring our own.

I think the best beer I had was Ankor Smooth which I found in North Cambodia only and came in a can. The second best would be Chang – served in a non-frozen glass.

Lastly, here are a few beer pictures: 

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