Beer in Thailand
There are many types of Thai beer. It is readily available in shops, large and small, throughout the country. However, Bangkok has started a policy of limiting the hours when beer can be sold. Technically, for example, it is illegal to sell beer in the morning and after school hours (until 17:00). Sometimes this is overlooked and sometimes not. The law doesn’t seem to apply to the provinces.
So what kinds of beer are there?
Essentially, you have one choice – lager. One company tried to introduce dark beer to Thailand but it was a failure.
Below is a list of Thai beers with some comments about taste and alcohol content. The price given is for one ordinary size can in a supermarket. Prices are somewhat higher in small shops and much higher in bars.
The king of Thai beers, having been established over 70 years ago. Its motto is “Singha beer, Thai beer,” and for many years is was essentially the only show in town. It is regarded as a premium beer – which simply means it is a bit more expensive. The beer has a bitter taste to it and is known to cause hangovers. It is 6% alcohol and costs about Bt 35 baht a can. By the way, the “HA” in Singha is silent so it is pronounced Sing.
More recently, Sing Lite has become available.
The first beer to really capitalize on the opening of the beer market was Beer Chang (elephant beer). It developed a budget category, soon followed by others. It runs about 35 baht a can. It is a bit grainy tasting and weighs in with 6.4% alcohol.
Archa is fairly new on the market. It has a somewhat bitter taste, but a more reasonable alcohol content of 5.4%. It costs 25 baht.
Red Horse in also a new kid on the block. It has a whopping 6.9% alcohol content and costs 40 baht. Probably a bargain if you want to get zapped quickly.
Leo Beer is a traditional, ordinary American style lager and the choice of yours truly. It is roughly comparable to Budweiser. With 5.5% alcohol, you can slowly handle a six-pack on a hot day. The price is 30 baht a can.
Other Thai beers include: Singha Gold, Amarit NB, and Kloster.
Brewed in Thailand under license are Carlsberg, Blue Ice, Tiger and Heineken. These are premium class ordinary lagers, although Heineken has a mystic about it for some lovers of the golden nectar.
Imported bottles of Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Light can be found some places if you are willing to pay 90 baht a bottle for a standard beer. Because it is so expensive, it sometimes sits on shelves for a long time and goes bad. Stick with the Thai equivalents.
Thai beers can also be purchased in large bottles. This is a somewhat more economical way to buy your beer.
Places catering to tourists, including bars, restaurants and hotels, often don’t stock the budget beers such a Leo or Chang, and sell only small bottles. The prices, of course, are considerably higher than when purchased at a shop.
Something most westerners find unusual is the fact that many Thais put ice in their beer. At a Thai restaurant or bar, when you are served your beer (often a big bottle of Singha), it comes with a bucket of ice. While this might seem like a sacrilege to beer lovers, it actually isn’t a bad idea when drinking the more potent beers.
Beer cannot be purchased on Buddhist holidays or elections days. Exceptions are usually made at tourist hotels.