Best Southeast Asian Beers

Southeast Asia is one of my favorite parts of the world, and one of the best ways to kick back and relax after a long day touring in the sun and humidity is to knock back a bottle or two of beer. Not just for tourists, locals throughout Southeast Asia love a fresh brew, either right off the draught or from a cold bottle. Either way, skip the expensive imports you can get at home and settle for one of these tasty brews easily found in restaurants and pubs.

Angkor Beer – Cambodia

If the image of Angkor Wat on the label didn’t make it obvious, Angkor Beer is the national beer of Cambodia. You’ll find crates of it everywhere you go, and its light and crisp taste is perfect after a day of climbing around on sun-baked ruins. Cambodians love a cold beer too, and Angkor is stocked in the many bars all around the country. Angkor is brewed in Sihanoukville and it is rumored you can tour the facility on Wednesdays, though this isn’t confirmed on their website.

Photo credit - craigemorsels

Photo credit - craigemorsels

Tiger Beer – Singapore

Tiger Beer was Singapore’s first locally brewed beer, and now it’s a massive brand that can be found in Asian restaurants across the world, especially the US and UK. Their marketing campaign, “Time for a Tiger,” hasn’t really changed over the years, and was so successful that Asia Pacific Breweries launched a anti-binge drinking initiative called Get Your Sexy Back. You can tour the brewery on weekdays, but prior reservations are required to get access to one of the four daily timeslots.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Chang Beer – Thailand

Chang Beer is now the largest selling beer in Thailand, though it is in constant battle with competitor Singha beer for the top spot. ‘Chang’ is the Thai word for elephant, which is why you’ll find two elephants on the label. You have to go to Thailand to experience the best Chang beer, which is actually different than what is exported. The local version uses rice in the production of it, whereas the export is a malt beer. I can’t think of anything better than a mound of pad thai with a Chang.

Photo credit - swanksalot

Photo credit - swanksalot

Bir Bintang – Indonesia

Bir Bintang, or ‘Star Beer,’ is the most popular and best selling beer in Indonesia. If you like Heineken, you’ll love Bir Bintang – many say they taste very similar and have nearly-identical labels, which is of course no surprise given that it is owned and manufactured by a Heineken subsidiary. Whether it’s on the beach in Bali or a poolside bar at your resource, this beer is the perfect way to end the day.

Photo credit - zieak

Photo credit - zieak

San Miguel – Philippines

San Miguel was first produced in Manila in 1890, and a hundred years later, this tasty brew propelled the company into one of the country’s few global conglomerates. The original brewery opened by royal grant from Spain and was named after a brewery in Barcelona, Spain. The company makes several styles of beer, one of my favorites being Red Horse Beer, an extra strong lager that goes down well longgansia (Philippine sausage) or pancit (stir-fried noodles). Philippinos love a beer and it’s the most commonly consumed alcoholic drink in the country.

Photo credit - Chiang Weiti

Photo credit - Chiang Weiti

This post is part of WanderFood Wednesday, a Blog Carnival held by Wanderlust & Lipstick. Check them out for a visual treat of tasty dishes, or take part in the carnival yourself. Additionally, do check out as well our latest offering, our new Issue 02 of the magazine!

Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best travel ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of top Vietnamese noodle treats. You can also check out some excellent cancun holiday information there.

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Travel Experiences.


10 Comments on "Best Southeast Asian Beers"

  1. Nancie (Ladyexpat) on Thu, 25th Mar 2010 3:04 am 

    I’m not a big beer drinker, but I usually make a point of trying the local brew. I can vouch for all of these except San Miguel. I need to get to the Philippines one of these days to try it out. Thanks Andy!

  2. Lifecruiser Travel Blog on Thu, 25th Mar 2010 2:23 pm 

    Instead of testing ALL the beers one can find in Southeast Asia, this would be a wise place to look at first! *giggles*

  3. Nik on Thu, 25th Mar 2010 4:54 pm 

    A personal favorite I’d like to add and share as well.. is Storm Beer, from Bali. It’s quite a new product, brewed by an expat entrepreneur and I very much enjoyed it.. Try it out next time you head to the Pulau Dewata (The Island of Gods)!

  4. jessiev on Sun, 28th Mar 2010 3:06 pm 

    great list!! are there any dark beers in asia?

  5. Kristy on Tue, 30th Mar 2010 12:44 pm 

    Yum! just had a few Bir Bingtangs while in Jogja. Keep up the great posts!

  6. Nik on Mon, 5th Apr 2010 11:27 am 

    @jessiev – San Miguel has San Miguel Dark, which is said to be a more robust, full-bodied and overall more interesting brew. Not from personal experience, I’m no beer-expert.. I do know the Storm brew from Bali that I recommended also had a dark-brew.. again, not one I’ve tried before, unfortunately..

    @Kristy – thank you, I hope you’re enjoying your time in Jogja!

  7. Phil on Mon, 3rd May 2010 8:07 am 

    Try Beer Lao Dark. Very tasty and 6.5 percent alcohol.

  8. Adam on Tue, 8th Jun 2010 4:42 pm 

    Good list. I enjoy darker beers usually, so SE Asia was a bit difficult for me, but when it’s that hot and humid out, I actually prefer a lighter beer. Beer Lao was my personal favorite out of the SE Asian beers. The various Bia Hoi’s (homemade brews) in Vietnam were usually really good and really, really cheap. We were paying $0.25 for a glass in many places throughout Vietnam, just another reason why it is one of my favorite countries.

  9. Joey on Thu, 14th Oct 2010 5:13 pm 

    San Miguel beer is definitely the best here in the Philippines! And Red horse is a favorite too, if I may say! Although, there is an emerging new brand of beer under a rival company, called “Manila Beer”. It just went out this year, and it’s quite good! I especially like its light version (comes with a green label jacket on the bottle’s neck). And it’s crazy cheap!

  10. firya on Thu, 13th Jan 2011 3:57 am 

    to me… bir bintang is the best… i always drink it, every time i see sun set at kuta bali nor dreamland… the taste is melted with the atmosfer…

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