I’ve been living in Thailand for over a year and enjoy the odd beer, and by odd I mean the odder the better. Most tourists and expats only encounter the more well known brews in Thailand, and blog posts on Thai beer tend to ignore many of the interesting beers available in Thailand if you know where to look. There are literally hundreds of beers available from various restaurants, bars, retailers and wholesalers in the capital and beyond.
Here is my Expats Guide to Beer in Thailand.
UPDATES: This page is getting a lot of traffic and will be updated regularly with readers comments and suggestions for improved accuracy. Throughout the post I’ve also included amazon links to merchandise and glasses for those of you wanting to drink your brew from the proper glassware.
- Added Wishbeer
- Updated regarding Belgian Beers
- Corrected ABV percentages for Thai Beers
- Fixed error regarding Brew Dog importer
While Thailand’s cheap beer is an attraction for the average backpacker, its not really that exciting for any true lover of interesting beers. Thai beer choices are the Model T of beer drinking and comes in the following styles: American Style Gold Lager, American Style Gold Lager and you guessed it, American Style Gold Lager – i.e. you have any style you like as long as its a gold lager. Because of the hot weather locals often drink it “Thai Style” in a glass full of ice, and often to the horror of foreigners – with a straw.
Singha (5% ABV): Probably the most famous of Thai beers, its been around since the 1930s, and tends to be considered the premium of local beers (meaning you are paying 5-10 baht more than other local alternatives). Its a light and clean tasting golden/pale lager. Generally referred to as “Sing” by locals who don’t pronounce the “ha” at the end. Theres a light version (3.5% ABV) available as well, but no self respecting beer drinker touches the light stuff now do they? Best drunk at a local restaurant that doesn’t serve anything imported. You can grab your Singha merch here.
Chang (6.4% ABV local market, 5% ABV export): Quite possibly my most hated beverage in Thailand, the creator of the mighty “changover” – spotted on the singlets of many a budget backpacker and sexpat, its one I avoid at all costs. The two versions (Local vs Export) are completely different, with the local version being brewed with rice, and the export being malt. Best drunk on Khao San Road. Miss drinking cheap and dirty beer back home? Grab a Chang T shirt here.
Leo (5% ABV): The cheaper alternative to Singha, its my “go to” beer of the local Thai beers easily available in Bangkok, but not particularly interesting. Apparently theres another version of Leo called “Leo Super” but I’ve never spotted it. Best drunk ice cold in a large bottle at The Overstay on Charansanitwong 40.
Archa (5.4% ABV): One you won’t generally see in any bars, this pale lager is definitely cheap. You can pick it up for close to 30-40 baht at the 7/11 or minimart. Best drunk outside the 7/11.
Phuket Island Lager (5% ABV): Brewed on Phuket with German hops and Thai jasmine rice, and is the most consistent award winning beer in Thailand. Its the only beer brewed according to the German beer purification laws of old. Of all Thai beers this is my favourite in Thailand, but not easy to find.
Tao (Unknown% ABV): Beer only available in Koh Tao, fits somewhere between pilsner and lager.
Importers also stock many common foreign brands, which are either brewed locally under licence or imported from other South East Asian nations. You can generally buy Heineken (Netherlands), Sapporo (Japan), Tiger (Singapore), Carlsberg & Miller (USA) pretty much anywhere and if you are lucky you’ll find my favourite South East Asian beer, Beer Lao (either standard or dark)
Imported Belgian Beers
Belgian beers have been around in Thailand for a little while now, and are generally more well known around the world due to the popularity of Belgian Beer Bars, from the common Stella Artois, to the lesser well known Trappist ales, you can find Belgian beers at bars around the major cities and tourist spots including Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao.
Belgian Beverage Asia Co., Ltd.
As their name suggests Belgain Beverage Asia focus on Niche beers from Belguim and import a wide variety of styles including: Dark, Belgian IPA, Belgian IPA, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Bière de Champagne / Bière Brut, Bière de Garde, Dubbel, Faro, Lambic, Quadrupel, Saison, Triple, Witbier and more. They import oer 80 different product lines of beer and carry brands such as:
- Rochefort (6, 8, 10)
- Westmalle (Dubbel, Tripel)
- Kasteel (Bier Donker, Bier Triple)
- Delirium (Tremens, Noel, Nocturnum, Red)
- Floris (Fraise, Mango, Pomme, Honey)
- Bacchus (Frambozenbier, Kriekenbier)
- St Louis (Premium Peche, Premium Kriek, Premium Framboise)
Imported Craft Beers
Over the last few years there has been an increase in the amount of “craft” beers available in Thailand thanks to some niche importers such as Beervana, Hopsession and Smiling Mad Dog are doing there best to create a real craft beer vibe in the “Hi-So” bars of Bangkok. Not for the faint hearted most of these beers pack a real punch. These are my favourite beers to sample while in Thailand, and worth the ridiculous amounts of tax that is charged on foreign beers. For more information on imported craft beers make sure you follow the excellent Thailand Craft Beer Community
Beervana are craft beer purists, importing craft beer from the United States that is often unpastuerised, preservative free and organic, meaning they run a total cold chain system all the way from the states to your mouth. They carry a range of brands including:
- Rogue (DIY, Morimoto, Oregasmic, Oatmeal Stout, Juniper Pale Ale, Mocha Porter, Red Ale, Yellow Snow IPA, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Dead Guy Ale & Chocolate Stout)
- Anderson Valley (ESB, Helch’o’Hops Imperial IPA, Poleko Pale Ale, Hop Ottin IPA & Boont Amber Ale)
- Brewerkz (White Rabbit Wheat Ale, Golden Ale, Honey Apricot Ale, India Pale Ale)
- Deschutes (Twilight Summer Ale, Chainbreaker White IPA, Black Butte Porter & Mirror Pond Ale)
- Lagunitas (IPA & New Dog Town).
Aaron & Brian are truly gods amongst men.
With a focus on the Scandinavian side of craft beer, mead and ciders Jakob at Hopsession imports a wide (probably the biggest in Thailand) range of brands and styles of beer including:
- Mikkeller (Monk’s Brew, Crooked Moon dIPA, Beer Hop Breakfast, Wet Hop Saphir Ale, Mikkeller Porter, Mikkeller Barrel Aged Mexas Ranger, Beer Geek Breakfast, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, K:rlek 3, To Øl, Spontankriek, Spontanframboos, The American Dream, P1, Tiger Baby)
- Birra Del Borgo (ReAle, ReAle Extra, My Antonia, Rubus, Duchessa, L’equilibrista)
- Nørrebro Bryghus (Stuykman Wit, New York Lager, Bombay Pale Ale, Ravnsborg Rød, Kings Country Brown)
Smiling Mad Dog Co. Ltd
Smiling Mad Dog are importers of beers and ciders including the infamous Brew Dog range.
- Brewdog (Punk IPA, Liberty Black Ale, Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Dana, Goldings, Waimea, El Dorado, 5AM Saint, Dead Pony Club)
Wishbeer is the #1 online store for premium craft beers in Thailand. They have over 400 different brews from over 15 countries (including Tuatara beers from New Zealand) and will deliver anywhere in Thailand within a few days. They also have a beer club where you can get every month a different case of beers delivered to your doorstep. I’m planning to start purchasing from them regularly as soon as some more cash comes in from home!
Apparently you need to be over 20 to drink in bars, but I’ve never seen this enforced except for on Soi 11, and hours of sale are restricted during the day time. There is usually a total ban on the sale of alcohol on Buddha days and elections, though many small “mom and pop” type stores in Soi’s will routinely flaunt these laws due to lack of enforcement.
Its technically illegal to brew your own beer, though I’ve been told that the fine is only 200 baht, currently I’ve only heard of one person brewing their own craft beer for personal consumption, but if the message boards (that are sometimes blocked) are anything to go by, there are a lot more hiding around the countrya lot more hiding around the countrya lot more hiding around the country!
Foreign beers attract a massive excise duty, the real reason why you are paying so much for your imported drink.
Top Beer Bars
- Brew on Thonglor (Scenespace Thonglor 13, Bangkok) Literally the home of beer in Thailand. This place has over 140 different beers and ciders available either in bottles or draft. Has to be seen to be believed and the perfect way to go way over budget on your credit card. Absolutely worth it though, also operating up north in Khon Kaen.
- Mikkleller Bangkok a great little bar that serves a massive range of Mikkeller and other beers with 30 different beers available on draft. Great platters as well.
- House of Beers (HOBs) a nice bar, with a huge range of beers and a decent choice of bar snacks, a little pricy but worth it for the selection. Not as busy as other places, and probably the nicest place for daytime drinking.
- Sway (Thonglor 10 Arena 10, Bangkok)Home of the Craft Draft Wall, a unique serving system where patrons get a swipe card that allows them to pour their own beer, whatever quantity they want, when they want, how they want, with most of the Beervana range of Rogue and Anderson Valley available on Tap.
- Apoteka (Sukhumvit Soi 11 and Thonglor, Bangkok) One of the first places I started DJing at in Thailand, carries a range of imported craft beers and local options as well as a range of food.
- The Earth House (Koh Tao) Home to the largest range of imported beers and cider in Southern Thailand, The Earth House is a expat favourite on the island. They’ve just started a brand new craft beer event “Which Craft?” mixing a medieval theme with beer tasting and food, a must visit if you are on the island.
Next time someone tells you there are no interesting beers in Thailand, send them this page – there are heaps!
Are you a Thai beer importer? Send me your brews so we can list them on the page!