Decidedly urban couple who quit their jobs and successfully backpacked their way through Asia for a year. They met Buddha, drank baijiu and learned to master the squat toilet. Now appearing in a new life as ex-pats in Singapore.

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Top 10 Best Beers in Asia

Top 10 Best Beers in Asia

Since we created a ‘Worst of Asian Alcohol‘ list, we felt it was only right to follow up by a list of alcohol that we really enjoyed -BEER. We have a fine appreciation for cheap beer and all of these brews are incredibly budget-friendly, readily available and taste mildly of dirty bath water.

Bintang at the Beach

Top 10 Best Beers in Asia

#1 Hanoi Beer– After months of backpacking we watched as the sky opened and God shined his light upon us. “Go to Vietnam,” he said. “Enjoy coffee, bread and the best beer in all of Asia.” And we did. Hanoi Beer wins top prize because you can actually taste that it is beer and not lager colored water. It’s crisp, deliciously inexpensive and best of all, you drink while sitting on child-sized plastic chairs on the side of a highly trafficked city street.

Hanoi Beer is easily consumed in mass quantities

#2 Bia Saigon Lager- Yes another beer from Vietnam because, let’s face it, beer in Asia is utter crap and Vietnam knows what they’re doing. Beer Saigon is light, watery and tastes slightly of skunk.  Perfect remedy after a day at the War Memorial Museum.

#3 Singha – Oh Thailand! If your gorgeous beaches, cheap painful massages and unusually friendly people weren’t enough to encourage me to stay another day, beer served beachside would do the trick. What kind of heaven on earth serves beer in a coozie?

Enjoying the view with a Singha in hand

#4 Tsingtao – This Chinese beer (pronounced Ching-dao) was first set up by those scrappy imperialist Germans who paid for the starting capital with Mexican silver dollars. Thank God for those Germans. Tsingtao was later nationalized, repatriated, sent to a re-education camp and given a new recipe.  Today’s Tsingtao is tangy and drinkable with a slight aftertaste of industrial run off from the Laoshan mountain.

Enjoying Mao's favorite beer

#5 Bintang Bir Pilsener– The famed Indonesian beer. Famed because every English knacker and trashtatic Australian tourist owns a sleeveless Bintang shirt and proudly struts around just waiting to tell you how much fun they had in Kuta. As long as you’re enjoying your Bintang on the beach, far, far away from the club scene in Kuta, you’re golden.  The beer is tangy but mostly tastes of salt water.

Welcome to INDIA!

#6 Kingfisher – India’s most famous bad beer, ‘The King of Good Times’. King Fisher is skunky almost to the point of cringe-worthy but still manages to be a nice compliment to a delicious Goan vindaloo. The question must be asked: In a country of 1.21 billion highly entrepreneurial Indian people, why is Kingfisher the only thing on draft? I never knew that good times taste like crappy Coors light.

#7 Gold Metal Taiwan Beer – Grab a Taiwan beer from your local 7-11, walk to a night market and enjoy the cheapest, most delicious meal of your life. Everyday is a good day for Taiwan Beer!

Our Christmas Eve meal, not complete without Taiwan beer

#8 Chang Beer – The cheaper and more alcoholic but far less tasty Thai beer. It’s known as the ‘poor man’s beer’ and it’s perfect for the day when you realize the American dollar has sunk to new lows and your backpacker budget has lost a third of it’s worth.  Rumors say that Chang is brewed with fomaldehyde, and it does have a strong ‘back of the throat’ dead body taste. Also served cold in a coozie!

Beer in a coozie.

#9 Tiger – This beer is made in Singapore which means that the government brought in the best minds in the beer brewing industry, gave them thousands of dollars and told them to recreate the wheel.  Like most things in Singapore, it’s just a sterile immitation of what you can find in other major capitol cities. But it’s on the list because it’s great to drink while dining at a hawker food stall (the one thing Singapore does really well).

#10 Hite – Koreans may know how to drink but their beer of choice is surprisingly flavorless. I would rather drink a kimchee cocktail than a bottle of clear, watery piss. Of course, after a few rounds of grilled meat and soju, Hite is shockingly refreshing.

HITE-UH!

Other contenders

Bia Hoi- The freshest beer around, brewed just that morning and made to be consumed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it tastes like water, contains very little alcohol and leads to a startling rise in sobriety. On the plus side, you’re meant to drink bia hoi as early as possible –  who doesn’t love kegs and eggs?

Bia Hoi - fresh from the street

Beer Lao – Rumored to be highly drinkable but barely remember taking a sip. Hidden inside many, many Beer Lao bottles is a nasty, mind-altering alcoholic substance known as Lao-lao.  (Lao-Lao is a potent moonshine that is often stored in Beer Lao bottles.)  Be careful when reaching for your drink, as you may chug from the wrong bottle and throw up on the table.

Dali Beer – Dali is the perfect Chinese town and a great place to indulge in a tipple. Unfortunately the only tipple is Dali beer, which is far tastier than the other alcohol brewed in dali – plum wine. Dali beer is best chased with a huge serving of dumplings. Of course if you’re an adventurous sort, avoid the beer and head straight for Foreigners street and hit up a Ganja grannie.

Hello Dali!

Budweiser – Why, dear God? Why must American exports be so stereotypically mass produced and lacking in all quality? I think Bud is actually made from the American tears we cry as we watch the dollar die a slow, painful death.

Sadly, The King of Beers

Stone Sober in Asia (NOT REALLY)

Stone Sober in Asia (NOT REALLY)

As we’re getting ready for the last leg and potentially deadliest part of our trip (racing a rickshaw across India! Huzzah!) there are a few things that I want to reflect upon, notably how many incredible hangovers we have endured from the spectacularly awful alcohol found in Asia.

Our first morning in Asia - welcome to Korea!

Top three worst drinks in Asia

Baiju – China’s moonshine smells of paint thinner and nail polish and derives it’s uniquely foul taste from added herbs like tiger bone, bat and ginseng. One shot is enough to make grown Irish men lose their lunch. Although you don’t see many Chinamen with facial hair, I’m sure if you took off their shirts you would find a furry beast.  This shit puts hair on any chest.

Baiju is the communist drink of choice. When Chinese business men get together, the Baiju isn’t far behind. And you are obliigated to participate. This earns the top spot as the absolute worst alcohol in all of Asia. Guaranteed hangover.

Tiger bone and bat in Baiju

Lao-lao –Lao’s famous whiskey doesn’t even have it’s own bottle or brand.  This potent mixture is homemade so it could be 5 proof or 100 proof. For ultimate confusion Lao-Lao is stored in Beer Lao bottles, so be careful when taking a generous gulp from your open beer as it could very well be a fiery mouthful of clear hooch.

Lao-Lao is served at any hour of the day or night.

Rumor has it that you must take three drinks of Lao-Lao. The first is foul, the second is less bad and by the third you’re dancing with naked hill tribe people and fucking goats.

I’ve seen this happen.

Down that Lao-Lao

Soju – Soju comes in a very distant third for worst alcohol in Asia. It’s not as potent as Baiju or as omnipotent as Lao-lao, but Koreans drink like dickheads. They are the world’s most efficient alcoholics. One minute you’re enjoying a simple beer, and the next minute you’re guzzling soju from the bottle, or roaming the streets of Busan with a plastic bag filled with soju slushy.

Korean’s don’t stop.  They will drink until they pass out, even if that means sleeping on the street. And this is why soju is so bad. You drink it in excess, excessively.

Booze in a bag - Soju slushy

Finally, an honorable mention, Mushroom Shakes – For obvious reasons, this can not be considered an alcoholic drink but it will make you sick as shit.

Drink too much and you’ll see skulls swimming out of the ocean (him).  Drink too little and you won’t see anything but your stomach will cramp for hours and you’ll sit on the toilet praying to God that your bowels will rid you of those vile poisonous fungi (her).

Tred carefully: Mushroom Shakes

Asia, it’s been real. Thanks for the memories, those of them that I managed to remember.