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.
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.
#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?
#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.
#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.
#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!
#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!
#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.
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?
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.
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.
- Airing out the dirty laundry The Dhobi ghat is a massive open air laundry where hundreds of Dhobi (the traditional washermen) live and work. We...
- 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!...
- Luang Pra-longed Sickness There is nothing like a food borne illness from raw meat to ruin a trip to new country. We’ve become...
- If not Sriracha, then what?!? Also, I love beer. In Vietnam every meal is accompanied with Chili sauce but it is certainly not the Chili sauce that so many...
- Adventures in Caving with Poisonous Creatures! The caves in Mulu National Park are legendary both for their sheer size and because they’re home to an incredible...