Is Thai Beer Thai Food?

Not sure about that but I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything on here about Thai beer before.

Back in the states I pretty much just drank Corona Light and had a squirter of lemon juice to tang it up. The taste is very light, and if the bottles haven’t been sitting out in the sun before they make it to the bar or restaurant the beer is very clean tasting. I’ve had sewer water Coronas too – but that’s for another article.

Thai beer is strong stuff. Typical alcohol in Thai beer is 5.5% – 7%. Typical beer in the USA has 2.2 to 3.5%. Thais drink their beer with ice – as it mellows the flavor – and keeps it ice cold. Both of these are appreciated… it’s often over 90 degrees F at night in Bangkok, so one gets used to ice in their beer after a while. I finally did about 2 years into my stay. Waitresses add it to the mug anyway – without asking, figuring ‘everyone loves ice in their beer’.

One big problem with getting beer in Thailand is that it’s hit or miss. Though it is made right here in the country, there are not (I haven’t seen any) refrigerated trucks to transport the beer. That means the beer you’re about to drink might have been sitting in a hot – and I mean HOT truck for a day, or a few days, before it made it to the Thai restaurant or bar where you’re going to drink it. Some of it is good. Some is downright horrible.

Eventually I think nearly everyone gets used to the beer though. I’ve given up finding great beer in the country, just due to the refrigeration issue. Thai beer is a little harsh anyway. That extra alcohol has the effect of turning beer into somewhat of an industrial pain remover or something. When I first arrived in Thailand I wasn’t too keen on the beer. I never used the word ‘keen’ either. Thailand changes you. Now I really enjoy one of the Thai beers that at first I didn’t enjoy at all. Beer Leo. This is one of the cheapest beers at 35 baht 50 Thai baht (prices change over the years!) per big bottle – about two twelve-ouncers. If I drink one I’m fine for a couple hours.

Here are some of the Thai beers and what I think of them:

Singha – the national beer it appears. Expats like this one. It’s a little more expensive than the others. It has a decent taste – with ice.

Chang – means elephant. A harsh beer you must have with ice. I had Chang draught (draft) before and it was VERY good. In bottles or cans it’s not so great. Highest alcohol content. Thais prefer this one.

Beer Leo – pretty good. I still need ice for it.

Beer Lao – awesome. Comes in two varieties – pale and dark. No ice needed or recommended. Both are my favorite beers of all time. Yes, this comes from Laos and I have it when I run across the border to renew my Thai visa. Highly recommended. Sometimes in Thailand the beer has been overheated and it tastes horrible. Best to get right across the border at Chong Mek as there is a Beer Lao brewery just a few kilometers from there. Awesome beer!

If you see Thai beer in a Thai restaurant in the states or wherever you are in the world – give it a try and let us know what you think!


(Photo credits: Singha Beer – user, AndyLawson; Beer Lao – user, Asia Edit. Thanks much!)

3 thoughts on “Is Thai Beer Thai Food?”

  1. Vern/Joy,

    Ah beer, one of my favorite subjects and drinks.

    When I first came to Thailand there wasn’t much of a selection for beer. There was Singha, Heineken, Kloster and Carlsberg and occassionally Corona.

    I tried them all but mostly stuck to Singha and Heineken. Then came the other beers, Leo and Chang. I don’t like Leo much and now when I do drink Thai beer it is mostly Chang. The other beers that show up I don’t care much for Archa, Federbrau and some others that like the dinosaurs have gone the way of extinction.

    I haven’t had a Lao Beer in a while. But for sure I always enjoyed at least one when I crossed the border. On border runs to Chong Mek I had to justify the $35 to cross the border so I would sit down on the Laotian side and tip a few. Also enjoyed in Savannakhet and Vientiane. I miss a good Lao Beer because I haven’t had to make a visa run in quite some time.

    One thing I love here in Thailand is enjoying a nice Thai lunch in the open air and wash it all down with a cold beer.

    Come By,

    • Oops! Sorry man – I read the comment when it came in and probably thought I was going to write a reply to it so I held off on approving it so I’d be reminded later… if that all makes sense.

      Beer Lao – same here. There was a place that made bread across the Chong Mek border and I’d sit there with a friend – we went on a regular alcohol buying spree about every month. That changed when we were almost arrested… taking too much Beerlao and other spirits across the border! The package store paid our fine because they told us we could do it!

      Fun times at the border… there’s much more to that story but it won’t come out until I’m out of Thailand.

      Leo was not my favorite for the first 25 times or so… and then, voila! It became so… I think it’s right about the time I started to add ice to my beer… so – if that says anything.

      Keep up the good work at Darwin! Thanks for the comment here…

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