Longtime listeners and friends likely know that Scott and I love beer. I’ve worked on and off in the beer industry for decades and Scott has retained his amateur status in hopes of someday representing Canada when beer drinking becomes an Olympic event. Today, we’re going to talk hops and mashed malts from across the continent, to help you enjoy the best brews during your next Asian adventure on this episode: Favorite Beers of Asia. 

Scott: The variety of beer has grown in the region, particularly in the last 5-10 years, but boring lager seems to dominate. With the exception of stouts in Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. Good craft seen in Vietnam, other countries (namely Thailand and Singapore) have some seriously crazy taxes in place.

Trevor: Just so everyone knows what we mean by our Favorite Beers of Asia. It’s currently February 2022 and we won’t know how easy it may be for any of you to get to the countries where these beers may be enjoyed, or even if those beers continue to be produced and available whenever you can get there. But we’ll share our favorite beers and the best places we know to enjoy beer in places we’ve visited. Hopefully some of these beers will be available to you soon, perhaps at your local bottle shop. I noticed cans of Pasteur Street brewing from Vietnam while I was recently in Hawaii. 

Trevor, Scott, and Greg from Bangkok Podcast at JUSMAG, Bangkok


Every other week, we have a special Patron-only episode or video. Last week we shared a video of cycling Bangkok’s canals and next week, we’ll stick to the beer theme and have a chat with Brian Bartusch of Beervana Asia, who drops some knowledge about beers in Asia. 

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Vietnam’s HOD at Box Office, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Trevor: Well, Scott, I mentioned Vietnam in the intro so why don’t we start there, move our way around Southeast Asia, and then venture further abroad. 

Favorite Beers of Vietnam

Scott: Lac makes some good beers, I really enjoy Heart of Darkness. For drinking, Biacraft in Ho Chi Minh; tons of taps – about 50- mostly Vietnamese beers. Standing Bar in Hanoi.

Trevor: I have been to Standing Bar. Great venue. Great selection of beers. Best beer bar in Vietnam, I’d say, largely because of the atmosphere (both the decor which rocks, and the setting, which is charming) but also because of the beers. Some of the beers I’ve had there, and elsewhere on tap: Fuzzy Logic of course, which brews in both Vietnam and Cambodia and makes some of the best beer in the region. Winking Seal was very good. East-West, I’ve enjoyed. Pasteur, I mentioned being available in Hawaii. Pretty solid and interesting selection of flavors in cans.  

You mentioned Heart of Darkness: this is the only craft brewery I’ve been in that would be open once Vietnam opens. But Pasteur and the other craft breweries have tap rooms that are all worth checking out. Check out a Google Map on our shownotes. 

Standing Bar, Hanoi. February 2022 Menu

Scott, take us over to Thailand. 

Favorite Beers of Thailand

Scott: Tough one – no really good locally brewed beers, but they are starting to brew Kirin and Hoegarden here as well as Stella which is a slight step up I suppose, but costs about US$3 in 7-11. Chit Beer is up and down in quality, but their Porn’s Milk Stout is tasty.

Trevor: Chit Beer is great for visitors, particularly as the trip up the river and a walk around the island is special. But I’d agree, the restrictions on brewing in Thailand was why there are so many good imports available.Thailand arguably had the best selection of beers in Asia thanks to distributors like Beervana. There is great craft beer available in supermarkets, 7-11’s and around the country now. I never would have dreamt that 20 years ago, before Starbucks even. 

Tawandang Brewery, Bangkok

Otherwise, Bangkok has one of only a few Mikeller tap houses in the whole world. Serious beer geeks will know about Mikeller. Just as you’d expect, it’s quirky in a good way, located in a residential nook off an otherwise trendy neighborhood. Expensive but world-class beer. 

Scott shout out to Craft, Bottle Cap, Hair of the Dog, all of which are all open under ‘restaurant licenses. 

Trevor: What about Tawan Daeng Brewery, long one of few brewpubs in Bangkok as the laws on brewing are very restrictive. Their beer is decent, as is their food (both German and Thai) but the best thing about Tawan Daeng has always been the stage show. A great fun show!

Scott: For the cheapest craft beer in Thailand, go to JUSMAG. (Review of JUSMAG written by Trevor for 2-mag

Chit Beer, Thailand

Favorite Beers of Laos

Scott: Beer Laos Dark. Lots of great outdoor venues, including riversides from Luang Prabang to Vientiene. 

Trevor: Ditto. Cheap, tasty. Lao lager is the best flagship national beer in Asia, I’d argue.

IPA isn’t bad for the price. It’s like a session. Beer Lao has quietly developed a reputation and some export success. It’s available in Cambodia, Thailand, possibly Vietnam. Not sure about overseas. I saw a Beer Lao t-shirt in Waikiki and the guy told me he bought it in Cambodia.

Talk Travel Asia podcast Laos Travel Tips
Beer Laos in Champasak, Laos.

Favorite Beers of Myanmar 

Scott: ABC Stout; lager, lager, lager.

Trevor: Not sure that’s local. Made in Singapore, but that makes some sense to me. They have long trade ties, I believe. I had Myanmar beer when I was there. Brought home a glass. Wasn’t really a lot of variety there when I was there. I bet there’s some small craft beer scene: must be. 

Favorite Beers of Korea

Scott: I went to a cool Canadian owned spot years ago but seems to be gone, but an internet search turned up a lot of microbrews and pubs there now in the capital particularly. 

Trevor: I spent several summers in Seoul and I drank a fair amount of beer, in addition to soju, sinsaju, and shots of all sorts of other sake-like substances. I remember alcohol is expensive and beer comes in 1-2 litre plastic bottles, like Coke. On average, I’d say there were good lagers, in the way that Japan has a wide variety of reasonably good lagers. None remain stand-outs in my mind. I understand there is now a Mikkeller Bar in Seoul – never been there but worth noting as evidence of a serious craft beer scene in the city. 

Bacca Brewing, Matsumoto, Japan

Favorite Beers of Japan

Scott: Kagua Red, Baird makes some good ones too and has a nice taproom in Tokyo I’ve been to. Their Angry Boy Brown Ale is solid as is the Shimaguni Stout. I went to the Matsumoto Brewery Taproom and it was great. Cozy with a few beers. I particularly enjoyed their seasonal Scotch Ale.

I also visited Bacca Brewing there which is run by a husband/wife team. They were friendly and had some decent beers. Combined with a visit to the Matsumoto Castle and Matsumoto City Museum of Art to see Yayoi Kusama’s work – it’s a solid day.

Trevor: Hitachino is probably the most famous craft beer outside of Japan. Good stuff. I also agree with praise for Baird. I’ve met Brian, an American man who started the brewery in Japan, making distinctly Japanese beers. Really appreciative of local ingredients in his recipes. I met the Kagua owner and brewer as well. This is a Japanese man who wanted to brew beer in Belgium, so they are Belgian beers from a Japanese perspective. 

Other cool things about Japanese beer I like are vending machine beer: you always end up with tons of coins in Japan and  you can buy beers from a machine and then people watch. I also love the tiny cans of beer but i would only buy one if i was buying 100 for some kind of drinking game.  

Favorite Beers of Cambodia

Scott: Cambodia beer with ice; the brown beer at the spot Trevor works that I liked

List a couple of spots to have good beer as well perhaps?

The Craft beer scene in Cambodia had a crypto-like boom. Like bitcoin, for a decade it lingered, with a few offerings but not much demand: Cerevisia and Himawari made let’s say North-American style craft while a few others went the German Route. Then suddenly it took off about 3-4 years ago with several great new options (Riel, Fuzzy Logic beers notably and Embargo, the first real craft-beer bar). At this point I designed several craft beer tours: first a Vespa Craft Beer tour and then a Craft Beer by Remork tour (Link in the shownotes). 

Embargo Phnom Penh

During COVID our crypto-craft suddenly surged again and, despite the on and off again alcohol sales, the craft beer scene is now really flourishing in Cambodia. Getting a lead on new or used brewing equipment remains hot gossip. 

Some good beer experiences in Phnom Penh include Noisy Chili, the tap room for Riel Brewery. Cerevisia beer can be experienced at Botanico Beer and Wine Garden (where I may be around to offer you a personal tasting and tour as I’m currently consulting for the brewery), and Botanico at Odom garden.

Embargo is the best craft beer bar (a good place to have beers with many of the city’s brewers if you’re tuck in for an afternoon ale or lager). Maybe 10-12 taps and a great selection of cans and bottles. Also a great vibe and friendly staff and regulars. The Box Office, just around the corner from my house, has the largest number of taps. Good fridge for take-aways in your tuk tuk too!

In Siem Reap, Pomme started serving their own beer as of early 2022 (Nick had been making some good sours when he worked at the Local (now closed). Beer Khnear gets a shout-out too: available on draft, as does Flowers, mostly in bottles (from Kampot) with little flowers on the labels. Yuki makes some creative styles but they don’t always land, in my opinion. 

Cerevisia Brew House and brewing team

Favorite Beers of Malaysia

Scott: I always enjoyed having imported beers at Taps downtown and their Rendang pizza is great. Otherwise it’s pretty standard lagers and some stouts, but they do brew Guinness and Kilkenny there.

Trevor: Most draught Gunness in the region made in Malaysia. But when you’re travelling around Asia, the cans and bottles of Guinness you’ll see are Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. It’s 8% and its carbonated. Quite different from the Guineess you’re used to. I also remember drinking Kingfisher, and Indian beer, while eating Indian food in Malaysia. 

There’s a Taps in Penang I believe. I went to several craft beer places in Georgetown, the capital of Penang island on the north-west coast of peninsular Malaysia. I remember China House as the best beer-slash-bar in Penang. It has entrances on one side of a city block and the other with various “spaces” in between a Chinese restaurant on the busier street side and a bar on the rear alley side which had a rocking band. They had two different Penang-made craft beers that may or not have been their own as they had equally quirky labels and names. Penang has a craft beer scene and, as the city is ideal for strolling and exploring, I would think a Penang beer-and-art-crawl should be available on TripAdvisor!

Smith Street Taps Singapore: from their Facebook post celebrating eight years of operations as of December 2021

Favorite Beers of Singapore

Scott: Brewerkz is one of the originals there and they do some nice beers (also a location at the National Stadium); their INDIA PALE ALE is nice 5.6% ABV / 45 IBU, as is the OATMEAL STOUT 5.5% ABV / 25 IBU. Smith Street Taps is a cool spot to have some beers, as is Little Creatures.

Favorite Beers of Indonesia 

Trevor: It’s been a while, but I helped introduce some craft beer to Bali back in 2007 maybe. Spent some time in Jakarta too. We launched Anderson Valley there, and beer was really taking off in Jakarta and Bali. Beer appreciation too. Smuggle Club. Sex in a canoe joke. 

Otherwise, Bintangover is real, but a Dirty Deus, with sambal goes well with fish. We’d have to have Aaron from Beervana back on to get us up to speed on the Bali brewing scene. 

Our Favorite Beers in Asia found here

 Google Map

Trevor and Homer: Embargo, Phnom Penh


Scott’s Beer Fridge: Bangkok (Kagua Red owning the top shelf.)

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