18 Brands of Southeast Asian Beers You Don't Want to Miss

18 Brands of Southeast Asian Beers You Don't Want to Miss
從「國內安全行動課程」畢業的菲律賓國家警察(PNP)地區性電訊集團成員,在傳統的敬酒儀式中飲用啤酒。攝於2007年6月8日,宿務島Sibonga的警察訓練營。Photo Credit:Reuters/ 達志影像
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TNL would like to kindly remind you to drink responsibly. Don’t drink while driving and don’t drive after drinking.

When it comes to beer, you might like a good old Budweiser, Heineken or Taiwan Beer. But if you move towards Southeast Asia, you will get a taste of some locally brewed flavors. Adding some ice and lemon to a mild beer (Bia hoi) during a scorching hot summer might really suit your taste.

The market potential of Vietnamese beer

Talking about Vietnamese beer, the brands Sabeco and Habeco have been creating the most influential local draft on the market. Star trademarks of Sabeco include: Saigon Beer (Bia Sài Gòn), Saigon Red, Saigon Special and 333.

What is 333? In Vietnam, the number three is pronounced “ba”, making the pronunciation of 333, “bababa.”

The name Habeco, written as HABECO, stands for “the beer company of Hanoi.” This is because the Vietnamese commercial trade department, MOIT, and Denmark’s famous beer brand, Carlsberg, both invest in HABECO’s stock market.

Hanoi beer (Bia hoi Hà Nội) is a must-buy souvenir for visitors. Central Vietnam, however, has its own locally brewed beer company called Hue Beer and manufactures the brand, Huda.

The price range for regular drafts in Vietnam goes from around $9,000 Vietnamese Dong (roughly NT$10) to $15,000 Vietnamese Dong (NT$21).

According to statistics in 2010, Sabeco is leading the Vietnamese beer market, with market shares exceeding 50%. Vietnam Brewery Limited takes second place, and Habesco follows closely with its Hanoi Beer.

Japan also established a Sapporo factory in Vietnam, making it another well-known brew in the country.

In 2014, Sapporo stated they would increase the amount of beer they produce to 15 hundred million liters in 2019. The Belgian beer company Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev) emphasizes that Vietnam will be the turning point for growth in the Southeast Asian beer market.

Moreover, the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation indicates they wish to use the zero custom duty models of Vietnam manufacturers to help Taiwanese liquor advance into ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

But there is some bad news for beer lovers. The Vietnamese government predicts the tax price of tobacco and liquor will increase significantly. By January 2016, there will be a price increase of 55%, which by January 2018 will have risen to 65%. This will undoubtedly become a huge setback for the beer market.

A picture compilation of beers from South East Asia

Vietnam

A man pours Saigon beers into a cup at a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam May 27, 2015. Vietnam’s biggest brewer Sabeco on Thursday said its net profit this year would rise eight percent to 3.29 trillion dong ($151 million) due to higher output and lower production costs. The maker of Bia Saigon said in a report to shareholders it planned a 17 percent rise in alcohol output this year to 1.63 million liters, while beer output would edge up two percent to 1.42 billion liters. Photo taken on May 26, 2015. Photo Credit: Reuters/Top Photo Group.
Bottles of beer move along a production line at a factory of Saigon Beer Corporation (Sabeco) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo taken on May 26, 2015. Photo Credit: Reuters/Top Photo Group
Photo Credit:Pedro Alonso CC BY 2.0
Huda啤酒。 Photo Credit: Roger Riera CC BY 2.0

Thailand

A city bus carries an advertisement sign of Chang (elephant) beer past a statue of an elephant erected on the street in downtown Bangkok, Thailand Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. In a bid aimed at curbing underage drinking, Thailand has in 2007 banned alcohol advertisements from local TV, magazines and other forms of media. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Apichart Weerawongh)

Singapore

The brand, Tiger, is produced in Singapore and was founded by Fraser and Neave & Heineken in 1930.

Malaysia

A Malaysian woman looks at non-alcoholic beer on display at the Malaysia International Halal showcase in Kuala Lumpur May 10, 2006. More than 300 international food producers and manufacturers, certifying bodies, supermarkets and financial services providers are represented at the five-day exhibition. Photo Credit: Reuters

Indonesia

Multibintang Indonesia Tbk is the manufacturer of Bintang Beer (bintang meaning stars), currently the largest beer company in the Indonesian market. The company also has a partnership with Heineken.

A worker of PT Multi Bintang Indonesia Tbk. holds a bottle of Bintang beer to check the quality at a beer factory in Jakarta April 17, 2015. Two Islamic parties have proposed legislation to ban all consumption of alcoholic drinks and hand jail terms of up to two years to offenders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population. Photo Credit: Reuters/ Top Photo Group
The annual alcohol consumption rate in Indonesia has been increasing continuously since 2003. But when looking at the beer consumption rankings within Asia, the Islamic country of Indonesia ranks last. Photo Credit: Reuters/ Top Photo Group.

The Philippines

Because of the San Miguel Beer Group becoming the biggest foods production company within the Philippines, Qilin Beer now holds half the stock shares, becoming the cornerstone of expanding within the Asian market.

Members of the Philippine National Police Regional Mobile Group drink beer during a traditional ceremonial toast after their graduation from the “Internal Security Operations Course", at a police training camp in Sibonga, on the island of Cebu, central Philippines. Picture taken on June 8, 2007 at the Cebu province Sibonga police training camp. Photo Credit: Reuters/ Top Photo Group.

Laos

The Beerlao brand produced by the Lao Brewery Company (LBC) uses a regionally harvested grain and is the champion of beers in Laos.

Photo Credit: garycycles
CC BY 2.0

Myanmar

Vendors ride a motor three-wheeler with a Chinese beer ad on in Mu-Se, Myanmar-China border Wednesday, March 7, 2012, in Mu-Se, northern Shan State, Myanmar. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
What you will learn from drinking Southeast Asian beers

Vietnamese 333 Beer

Small Vietnamese cafés usually sell 333 beer. It has a relatively thick foam layer which takes some time before it goes flat. It has the aroma of beer and a strong alcohol taste. It goes down smoother once you take a few more sips.

Taiwanese imported 333 beer. Photo Credit: Barrie
Photo Credit: Barrie

Thailand’s LEO beer

I wasn’t new at drinking LEO, as I had the beer a lot while on holiday in Thailand. But this time I sampled it in detail.
The color of LEO is a deeper golden brown. Compared to 333, the foam will disappear a little faster, but its bitterness is much more distinct, without a strong alcohol taste. It’s slightly sourer than San Miguel. Take a sip, and you will get a whiff of a unique aroma, and the flavors linger after finishing the beer, which makes it a pretty good choice.

From left to right: SPY RED, San Miguel, LEO. Photo Credit: WangW
Photo Credit: WangW

Thailand’s SPY (red) grape-flavored beer

Tasting it for the first time, the flavor is sweet to the point it feels a little artificial. After drinking more of it you will realize it actually has a slight artificial grape juice flavor. But once you finish a bottle you might want another.

My opinion on SPY is that drinking it can be risky. It tastes like grape juice, but in reality has an alcohol percentage of 5%, which is something you should make note of. Try some of the other SPY flavors as well.

Photo Credit: WangW

San Miguel from the Philippines

When I had San Miguel for the first time, I noticed the beer is a very bright golden color. It doesn’t have a lot of foam, which makes it fall apart relatively fast. After one sip, I found that it’s not that bitter. It’s rather smooth and has a faint sour taste. When the first drop lands on the tip of your tongue, you will realize that San Miguel goes really well with food, but because it lacks a sweet aftertaste, drinking it on its own might be a strenuous task.

Photo Credit: WangW

San Miguel Light

The light version feels a little fresher, and it agrees with people who don’t drink a lot of alcohol. It also has fewer calories than regular beer.

Photo Credit:David Pursehouse
CC BY 2.0

Try some Southeast Asian beers next time!

TNL would like to kindly remind you to drink responsibly. Don’t drink while driving and don’t drive after drinking.

Translated by Sarah Grasdijk
Edited by Olivia Yang

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