When you are lying on the beach by a Thailand hotel and enjoying the sunset, the adverts and Thai beer culture tells us you are supposed to think about drinking a bottle of beer. Many travelers from abroad ask the question: “What are the best beers in Thailand?” You will get the answer from this article and some insights into Thai beer culture.
The Top 3 Beers in Thailand: Singha, Chang, and Leo
There are more than 20 brand beers sold in Thailand, including the local Thai brands and foreign brands. Among them, Singha, Chang, and Leo are the top-selling beers in Thailand. Most Thai people know these three brand beers. They are sold in most pubs and bars, small shops, hotels, and restaurants. They are inexpensive for most people compared to other brands in Thailand.
1. Singha Beer — Strong Malty Flavor
Produced in 1934, Singha beer is the oldest brand in Thailand. The word singha means ‘lion’ in Thai. Singha beer uses a big golden lion as its logo. It is the only beer that is produced in Thailand, but Singha beer is made from European hops and 100% premium barley, which gives Singha beer a strong malty flavor.
The price of Singha beer is higher than other brands in Thailand, ranging from 40 to 50 THB in supermarkets and 90 to 150 THB in small bars and restaurants.
The AVB (alcohol by volume) of Singha beer is 5%. Tourists to Thailand are 20% more likely to get drunk on Singha beer if they are used to lighter beers.
2. Chang Beer — the Strongest Beer in Thailand
The second big beer brand in Thailand is Chang. Chang means ‘elephant’ in Thai. The elephant is the national symbol of Thailand. There are two elephants facing each other on the Chang logo.
Different from Singha, Chang is made with 100% malt barley, and rice is part of the recipe, which gives the beer its special taste.
Chang is cheaper than Singha. It costs about 35 to 45 THB in big supermarkets and about 75 to 140 THB in bars and restaurants.
The AVB of the Chang beer is also 5% nominally, but it varies greatly. It is said that you can buy a strong bottle of Chang, which is up to 10% ABV. There is also some Chang beers with an AVB of less than 3% in some shops.
3. Leo Beer — Sweet Grainy Taste
Leo is short for Leopard in Thailand. It is produced by the same brewery (Boon Rawd) that produces Singha. There is a small leopard on Leo’s logo. First produced in 1999, Leo beer has become one of the most popular beer brands in Thailand because of its reasonable price and good taste.
As an alternative to Singha, the price of Leo Beer is much cheaper than Singha. It cost about 40–50 THB in supermarkets and 80–140 THB in small bars and restaurants.
Compared to the other two big brands, Leo has a lightly sweet and grainy taste. The ABV of Leo is 5%, and the flavor is not as strong as the other big two brands.
Other Local Beer Brands in Thailand
Besides the top 3 brands of beer, there are more than 10 other brands in Thailand. Here are some of the popular ones:
Cheers beer has a sweet taste and is a little more expensive than the top three brands. With a lighter flavor, Cheers Beer is a good choice if you are bored with the top three beers.
Archa beer is produced by the same factory as Singha. Archa means ‘horse’ in Thai. You can easily find it by looking for its horse logo. It is the cheapest beer in Thailand.
Phuket beer, produced in the north of Bangkok, has a fruity taste, which is popular among young tourists in Thailand. It is said that Phuket beer was awarded a gold medal in an international beer festival.
U Beer is one of the newest brands in Thailand. With a light sweet flavor, U Beer is viewed fondly by many young travelers in Thailand.
Federbräu beer is a Thai-made German brand. The flavor of Federbräu beer is more “exotic” (German) than other brands. It is much more expensive than local brands in Thailand.
Foreign Brand Beers in Thailand
Feeling homesick and want to try some of your country’s beer? Travelers can also find some foreign brands in Thailand. The famous European and Australian brands of beer can be found in big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The duty on foreign imported beers can be up to 60%, so the price of foreign-brand beers is much higher than local brands’. Here are some of the top foreign brand beers in Thailand:
Paulaner: The famous German-brand beer, which can be bought in some big hotels or restaurants in Bangkok.
Leffe Blonde: a famous beer brand in Belgium and Europe. Travelers can buy it in restaurants in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Erdinger: From the world's largest wheat beer brewery in Germany, it is one of the most popular beer brands across the whole of Europe and Germany.
Craft Beer in Thailand
In Thailand, it is illegal to sell craft and home-brewed beer in public stores and restaurants. The government only allows producers who churn out at least 10 million liters (more than 2.5 million gallons) a year to brew and sell beer in Thailand. Many still home brew craft beer underground and sell it to friends, neighbors, and foreign travelers to Thailand.
How to Drink Beer Like Thais Do
Drink iced beer: Because of the hot weather in Thailand, beer is served with a few chunks of ice in the glass. It is common for Thai people to drink beer from the fridge the whole year round.
Drink big bottles of beer: Most beer bottles in Thailand are very big and shared with a group of people. And you often don’t know how much you have drunk when you are drinking with a group of friends when topping up is at will.
Say “Chorn!”: People in Thailand like to say “Chorn!” to each other when drinking, and chorn means ‘cheers’ in Thai. When you would like to order beer, you can say “neung beer kap” (if you’re a male) and “neung beer kaa” (if you’re female). Small-bottle beers are also available and served from a bottle cooler in most shops and bars. Read more about drinking in Thailand.
Beer Culture and History in Thailand
Thai beer did not appear before 1933. The “Godfather of Thai Beer”, Praya Bhirom Bhakdi, was the first person to produce Thai beer. It was said that, one day, Praya Bhirom Bhakdi had a meeting with a German businessman, who served Praya a glass of beer. Praya tasted the beer and saw the potential of beer in Thailand. He went to Europe to learn the skills of brewing and finally produced Thailand’s first beer brand, Singha, which became the most popular beer brand in Thailand.
Drinking beer is one of the most popular activities among young people and travelers to Thailand. You will see crowds of people sitting together to drink beer on the commercial streets of Thailand during the tourism high season. Read more about Drinking in Thailand.
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