Beer In Southeast Asia: A Matter Of Taste
Southeast Asia is currently experiencing one of the fastest growth rates in beer consumption in the world, according to a study by market researcher Euromonitor.
By Arno Maierbrugger
Why? Mainly because it’s so hot, say those who enjoy a cold beer to wash down spicy food at stalls and open-air restaurants between Bangkok and Manila.
Certainly. But this is not the only reason. The world’s top beer-drinking nations include the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Poland, and it’s not too hot there.
The main reason why Southeast Asia’s citizen are gulping more booze is the growth in the number of young people with higher disposable income in recent years. There is a clear correlation between the consumption of beer and economic dynamics, let alone Western influence through the growing influx of tourists, Western-style restaurants and international beer brands. All this lets Southeast Asian people turn away from their traditional distillates, be it rice whiskey in Thailand, arrack in Indonesia or various sugar cane or coconut brews elsewhere.
The survey also found that beer is increasingly being consumed in times of prosperity, while people were seeking solace in cheap domestic liquor during harder times in the past.
Asia overtook Europe and the Americas in beer consumption already in 2007. In 2011, the continent drank 67 billion liters of beer, against 57 billion in the Americas and 51 billion in Europe, according to the latest available figures by Euromonitor. The survey predicts that beer consumption is expected to grow 4.8 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region each year up to 2016.
The top beer-drinking nation in ASEAN is
Vietnam. Vietnamese drinkers downed 2.6 billion liters of beer in 2011, followed by Thailand with 1.8 billion liters and the Philippines with 1.6 billion liters, nearly double the total amount of beer consumed in Indonesia (236.4 million liters), Malaysia (171.4 million), Cambodia (136.3 million), Laos (134.3 million), Singapore (108.2 million) and Myanmar (30.4 million). No figures were available for Brunei where no alcohol is officially sold, but certain restaurants in the small Chinese quarter in Bandar Seri Begawan would serve booze in tea cups upon request at unknown volumes.
For expats and travelers the question arises which beers in Southeast Asia are the most satisfying for the discerning palate.
Below is a sample of beers I tried during my trip to Southeast Asia in September 2016:
Singha Beer - Country of origin: Thailand - Alcohol volume: 5% - Style: Lager
Chang Beer - Country of origin: Thailand - Alcohol volume: 6.4% - Style: Pale lager
Tiger Beer - Country of origin: Singapore - Alcohol volume: 5% - Style: Lager
Mandalay Strong Ale Beer - Country of origin: Myanmar - Alcohol volume: 6.5% - Style: English Strong Ale (this one is my favorite).
Myanmar Beer - Country of origin: Myanmar - Alcohol volume: 5% - Style: American Adjunct Lager.
In September 2016 I found an average of two brand of beer served in Myanmar and Thailand, and some places you could find Heinenken, Tuborg and/or Carlsberg ! (no signs of Interbrew (ABI)).