One of the most difficult adjustments this traveler had to make when living in Thailand was the severe lack of diversity in beer options, or, at the very least, easy access to those options. It can be quite difficult to dig yourself out of a pile of nothing but Chang, Leo, and Singha beers, but rest easy as a true craft beer scene is beginning to emerge in the Land of Smiles. The options are still severely lacking but it is becoming a bit simpler to satiate your hops craving.
Thai Craft Beer
Brand new on the scene in “locally” brewed Thai craft beer. Why did I use quotes? Well, that’s because it is technically illegal for microbreweries or homebreweries to exist in Thailand which causes brewers to outsource their production. The current law states that for a factory or brewpub to be legal they must produce more than 100,000 liters a year and have capital of at least 10 million baht.* This is one of the big reasons as to why Chang, Leo, and Singha are so prominent. Thai crafters such as Lamzing Beer and Stone Head are produced in Melbourne and Cambodia respectively and then imported back into Thailand.
Unfortunately, these laws have resulted in raised cost for the brewers and, as a consequence, higher prices for the consumers. But it’s not all doom and gloom as Thai beers are still typically cheaper than the international offerings. At a bar, a bottle of Cha La Wan pale ale by Full Moon can go for ฿200 and it can be found even cheaper if bought through bottle shops like Wishbeer (more on that below). Here are a few Thai brewers who create all sorts of beers ranging from Kolsch to IPAs to stouts. Hopefully, more will start to pop up soon.
- Full Moon Brewworks
- Happy New Beer Brewery
- Stone Head
- Six Post Meridiem Brewing
Some bars are starting to dive a bit more into imported brews. The Danish brewery, Mikkeller, has opened a shop in Bangkok and offers a wide variety of cans, bottles, and drafts. Beers from Coedo, a Japanese brewery, can be found on draft at Hashi here in Surat Thani (read my thoughts on Hashi here). Bottles of top brands such as Brewdog, Evil Twin Brewing, and Hitachino line the walls of another Surat hotspot, Mouth 2 Mouth. I’ve found many of the imported crafts to be priced between ฿200-฿300 for one bottle or can. A higher alcohol percentage may wind up being more expensive though. Living on a teacher’s salary limits a good craft beer to about a once-a-week treat. Just enough to tease your cravings.
Wishbeer : Cheap and Convenient Access to Craft Beer in Thailand
Easily the most useful way of obtaining craft beer in Thailand is ordering through Wishbeer. The home bar in Bangkok is a bottle shop as well as a bar but they also operate an online store that will ship anywhere in Thailand in as little as 2-3 days. Wishbeer offers not only the widest selection of beer that I’ve seen here, but you can also purchase ciders, spirits, and wine. The best part about their service is that you can avoid the upcharge invoked when going out to bars. They typically sell by the bottle so it’s a great way to create your own custom 6-pack too. I’ve used them several times and have never been disappointed and I doubt you will be either. Give them a look!
While not as convenient or vast as western countries, craft beer can be found in Thailand. A growing scene in Bangkok is beginning to reach its fingers into other provinces so it should not be long before Thailand is making its mark on the beer world. It can be an expensive treat but it is well worth it to wash the taste of Chang out of your mouth.
*Information gathered via Khao Sod English
Thailand is starting to really dive into the craft beer scene and it’s so fun to be around for the beginning. What’s the best beer or cocktail you have tasted while traveling? No, Full Moon Party buckets don’t count.
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