There are a lot of different Asian beers and lets be real a good chunk of them are interchangeable (literally, Angkor and Anchor???) but these, these are the standouts…
Is BeerLao the best beer I’ve ever tasted? No, but it’s crisp and refreshing with a nice and mild flavor. What makes it my favorite beer is the nostalgia, it fueled my first trip to SE Asia and it’s tied to so many memories, some clearer than others. BeerLao is owned by Carlsberg (Denmark knows what’s up) and brewed by Lao Brewery. They use rice from Laos and import hops and barley from Europe. I honestly don’t know what any of this means besides the fact that it makes for one of Asia’s best beers. BeerLao is the most popular beer in Laos and has slowly become available worldwide. They’ve built on their popularity by also releasing a dark and gold variety.
Tiger, a Singaporean beer, is probably the most famous SE Asian beer. It’s easily found all over the world, I just had one here in Denmark the other week and at $5 dollars it really made me miss Asia. Maybe Heineken is trying to make back the $4.1 billion it spent acquiring Tiger. But Tiger is much more than a beer, it’s become a cultural icon, cultivated by travelers. There is good reason Tiger is so popular, it’s a good beer, a really good beer and the perfect chaser for a spicy curry.
Bia Saigon (Vietnam)
It tastes like most other Asian beers, light and easy to drink in the heat and humidity. Bia Saigon comes in two varieties: red and green. I usually ordered the red. Why? I have no idea, I was never actually able to tell the difference between red and green. But if you want to step up the class there is also a Saigon Special, the green bottle and taste remind me of Heineken, not surprising considering how popular Heineken is in Vietnam.
I was not that surprised when I found out that Vietnam was the 3rd biggest beer market in Asia, after China and Japan. What I did find interesting is that Bia Saigon isn’t owned by a big beer conglomerate, a quaint idea until I realized it’s owned by a state controlled company.
Pasteur Street Brewing Company
I’ve written about this brewery before but I think they deserve the repeat. I’m going to make a bold statement here but the beers from Pasteur Street are my absolute favorite. Pasteur is an American craft brewery in Ho Chi Minh City. They use imported ingredients alongside locally grown ingredients which has resulted in some truly unique beers including a durian beer. If durian doesn’t entice you, they’ve also got a passion fruit wheat ale and jasmine IPA that are just beautiful.