Thailand is home to a wide variety of beers, wines and spirits. Here we look at the four most celebrated locally brewed beers. A wide selection of locally brewed beers, wines and spirits await potential visitors to Thailand, the gate way to South East Asia. Unfortunately I had the daunting but impelling task of conducting a reconnaissance mission into the breweries, distilleries and vineyards which have been scattered around the country like a pinch of salt to a pan of boiling water.
Let’s begin our assignment by thoroughly scrutinizing the local beers. Firstly, we note that the four most prominent lager beers in the Kingdom are synonymous with animals.
Beer Archa ( The Thai language is governed by a rule which insists the noun must precede the name) is symbolized by a horse; Beer Chang literally translates into ‘Beer Elephant’; Beer Leo is represented by a leopard and lastly Beer Singha which translates into ‘Beer Lion’.
Archa Beer: Archa is ThaiBev’s (one of the largest alcohol companies in South East Asia) most recent product and was introduced to the market in 2004. Weighing in at a comparatively humble 5.4 % volume, the beer won a gold medal at the 2007 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), but after sampling several large bottles of this award winning nectar I came to the conclusion that the judges may have been indulging in some extracurricular inspections prior to the contest. For me it was benign of any real flavor and at one point I even mused that the horse wasn’t only representing the beer but also supplying its principal ingredient.
However, at a mere 35 baht (70 pence Sterling) per 640 ML bottle it is an economically viable supplement to a packet of pork scratchings and definitely not to be sniffed at by those traveling on a shoe-string budget.
Chang Beer: ThaiBev’s most embraced blend comes in the form of Beer Chang or ‘Beer Elephant’. The bottle, sporting two white elephants (a white elephant once being the center piece of Thailand’s or then Siam’s national flag) again comes most commonly in 640 ML measures, although cans and smaller bottles are available. At a head-banging 6.4 % volume, this 40 baht (80 pence) beverage has a sharp taste which is really quite acceptable for its low price, although drinking this particular brew in moderation is very wise; waking up to remember how you performed an impromptu version of Bon Jovi’s’ Livin’ on a Prayer’ whilst swinging your newly purchased Beer Chang vest in the air, tends to intensify even the most acute of hangovers. Moderation, dear reader! Moderation!
Leo Beer: Boon Rawd Brewery was the first of its kind in Thailand and is the maker of another of country’s most popular lagers, Beer Leo. Slightly more costly than the aforementioned drinks, Leo is 6 % in volume and has a crisp, malty flavor which is perfect company for a light pub lunch. Once again most commonly offered in 640 ML measures, this lager can be found at most food and beverage outlets around the country for a modest 50 baht (one pound Sterling).
Singha Beer: Possibly the most established and preferred of the beers in Thailand is Beer Singha. This high-end brew is another of Boon Rawd Brewery’s creations and has been on the market since 1934. Praised by locals and tourists alike, Singha, which proudly boasts a gold lion on its label (the Boon Rawd logo), is an extremely flavorsome and invigorating tipple. Whether drinking for thirst quenching purposes or to complement a gourmet seafood platter, Beer Singha ticks all the right boxes leaving the consumer feeling contented if a little merry due to weighing in at fairly authoritarian 6% alcohol. At 60 baht (one pound and 20 pence) for this high brow bottle of lager, sampling should be etched in stone on your itinerary.
Footnote: Prices stated above refer to regular supermarkets only. Be prepared to pay double or even triple the quoted prices in pubs and restaurants respectively.