I wouldn’t be surprised if beer is the most popular drink in the world. It is cheap compared to wine or liquor. A study also showed that people are less aggressive after chugging beer than those who drank hard alcohol. I guess that depends on how much beer one has consumed.
Other than food and coffee, beer is the first thing I look for when traveling to another country. I’m no connoisseur so I cannot say whether lager or ale is better, or which brand is best. There are lager and ale anywhere you go. So what makes Southeast Asia’s beers stand out? Their price. In 2018, Vietnam’s beer sold at $0.95. In 2022, Vietnam Beer costs approximately between $1.14 and $1.16.
So here’s your quick guide to Southeast Asia’s best-selling home-grown brews:
Singapore is home to Tiger beer. Malayan Breweries (now Asia Pacific Breweries) produced its first batch in the 1930s. Other notable commercial brands include Anchor, Baron’s Strong Brew, and ABC Extra Stout. Craft, though, has steadily gained fame in Singapore’s mainstream watering holes. Singaporeans are beer-loving people, too. The country holds its grand beer festival, Beerfest Asia, every year across different locations.
Vietnam is a destination to behold for beer lovers. It has the cheapest beers to date, in Southeast Asia. With the country’s growing number of microbreweries, it will not run out soon of domestic brands. Vietnam’s beers are mostly Czech and German styles but craft beer also claimed its own spot. Among these local brands, Bia Hanoi is my favorite. Other Vietnam beers are 333, Saigon, Halida, Halida Thang Long, Huda, Zorok, Bia Lowen, and Bia Quy Nhon. It’s a perfect match to Vietnam’s spring rolls while watching the stream of tourists along Bui Vien street.
Carlsberg, Guinness, Angkor, Heineken, and Tiger are the most popular in Malaysia. These are international brewers. While tourist destinations in Malaysia have a number of establishments that offer alcoholic beverages, Muslims are forbidden to consume them. Malaysia is a devout Muslim country. While it’s legal for visitors and non-Muslims to drink alcohol, getting caught driving while intoxicated could get you some jail time.
Cambodia’s most consumed lager is Angkor. I am biased toward the Philippine brand, San Miguel but Angkor plays second on my list. An ice-cold Angkor is just what you need to get rid of the aftertaste of fried snakes and crickets from Pub Street. Other notable brands are Klang beer, Bayon beer, Himawari Apsara, Siem Reap Ale, and Kingdom Lager.
Local beers are easily available in Myanmar. In fact, I have noticed many beer stations in Yangon. The famous brands are Myanmar Lager Beer, Dagon, and Mandalay Strong Ale. Bone-tired tourists deserve a bottle of Myanmar Lager after climbing the exotic pagodas in Old Bagan or spending a day touring Inle Lake.
The Philippines has two main breweries: San Miguel Corporation and Asia Brewery. San Miguel Brewery’s first beer is the San Miguel Pale Pilsen. Asia Brewery’s Tanduay, Colt 45, Beer na Beer, and Asahi Super Dry continue to compete with San Miguel’s other leading brands San Mig Light, Cerveza Negra, and its high alcohol brand, Red Horse. Filipinos make sure there’s a pulutan (a side dish) when San Miguel is served. A typical side dish would be calamares (the Filipino version of calamari), and chicharon bulaklak (deep-fried ruffled pork fat).
Waiting for the picture-perfect sunset from Tanah Lot in Bali can be more fun with friends and a bottle of Bintang. Bintang is Indonesia’s famed lager, perfectly paired with Indonesian satay (skewered and grilled meat). Bintang is produced locally by Multi Bintang Indonesia, under a partnership with Heineken. Other notable domestic beers are Bali Hai, and Anker Bir.
Thailand has a catalog of local brands and Singha is the country’s oldest lager. Chang has become Singha’s rival (the biggest competitor, in fact). Other locally brewed Thai beers are Phuket, Siam, and Klassik. A street food experience on Khao San road won’t be complete without a bottle of Singha or Chang.
Have you tried any of these brands? Tell me how you liked them. These brands are sold globally so you would’ve probably stashed some in your fridge.