Top Five Beers in Asia

1. Myanmar Beer (Burma/Myanmar)

Myanmar Beer (http://myanmar-brewery.com/product/9) is definitely my favourite beer in Asia. It’s a 5% superstar that’s widely drunk in the Union. Nathalie Johnston (https://www.mmtimes.com/special-features/168-food-and-beverage/7443-to-drink-or-not-to-drink.html) describes the beer as heavy, with a slight malt, and plenty of fizz. When I travel to Myanmar, and indeed, when I lived in the Shan State, this is all I drink. (To be honest, I think this is the only decent beer, though Dagon isn’t too bad either.) The Myanmar Brewery that produce this fine ware, is plentiful throughout the country owing to the company’s near monopoly over the market, and it's cheap for the size and quality. While this is my preferred tipple in Asia, it does come with ethical challenges being owned by former military junta men. 

 

2. Saigon 333 Export (Vietnam)

This beer from Southern Vietnam is a real diamond. For me, it’s tough to decide between this one and Myanmar Beer. The company that produces this fine libation controls just over half of the market, which is quite an achievement given so many other great tipples (follow this link for the serious ‘beer talk’ https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/8646/32972/?ba=WHROO).  Saigon 333 Export goes so incredibly well with all the delicious pho that is quintessentially Vietnamese. The only problem with Saigon 333 Export is that it’s almost too good, and as the digital traveller moves from the South to the North, the prevalence of this bottle dries up past the old DMZ; you’ll be hard pressed to find it past Danang, whence you’ll find Han Oi Beer taking over. 

 

3. Kloud (South Korea)

My first big stretch living abroad was in Korea for just nigh of two years. In that time, the local beer in Korea was abysmal; no foreigner I knew at the time rated the beer at all. As an Englishman and European, good beers and ales are abundant back home. Korea, however, was completely devoid of a fine brew until I discovered Kloud during my second major time in Korea (Kloud was launched in 2014 by Lotte Liquor). It goes well with everything, and I genuinely contend that this beer measures up to a lot of pints back home. This is the only brew worth drinking in South Korea, in my view, perhaps because it’s made with German hops It’s also well priced both in restaurants and local stores when compared to European and East Asian imports (http://www.oldrichmondcellars.com/beers/imported-beers/packs/kloud-beer-6-pack/). Unfortunately, it’s not as universally available as other ‘lesser’ beers. 

 

4. Efes Pilsen (Turkey) 

Effes Pilsen is an extraordinary pint that’s widely available in Turkey. It should be completing with other more established European beers, but seems largely confined to its home market. While Turkey is secular, perhaps it doesn’t pop up on our radar as a beer manufacturer. As a former resident of historic Istanbul, there are few things more relaxing and rewarding than a crisp pint of 5% Efes Pilsen overlooking the Bosporus Strait while the melforious athan rings out from the local mosque. 

 

5. Anker Beer (Cambodia)

For most digital travellers who venture to Southeast Asia, beers like Chang, Leo, and Singha (all Thai), are rites of passage that often accompany revelry and shocking hangovers. Anker is similar to these bevvies, but is different in that it's also a better pint and as cheap as water up and down Pub Street, Siem Reap. The brewery’s website writes that this pint is ‘a deep golden pilsner with [a] creamy foaming head, [a] full bodied, strong flavour and delicious, well balanced bitter taste (http://www.deltajkt.co.id/web/index2.php?mod=products).' While this pint is not in the same league as Myanmar Beer and Saigon 333 Export, it’s a great, refreshing brew after cycling and walking around Angkor Wot’s iconic temples. Sup with friends as the sun goes down and the heat recedes.

Thomas Dowling

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