In considering what to write about Southeast Asian beer, I almost just want to say don't bother and leave it at that. Granted, we've only explored Singapore and Indonesia thus far, but the beer we have tried leaves a lot to be desired. This is hardly surprising given that the Muslim population of Indonesia, for example, hovers around 90% (Singapore shares a similar demographic makeup). There's maybe one exception, and I'm bored and on a 9 hour train ride to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, so here's a breif write up.
The Good Beer Company is located in Singapore's China Town area. We discovered it purely by chance. The New York Times featured an article on the rare storefront that Sara just happened to bring my attention to back home in Canada. This little stall was hidden in a massive food complex amomgst hundreds of other barely distinguishable stalls.
After nearly 20 minutes wandering the massive food court, we finally found the place which was sadly closed. We had to return later in the evening for a shot at good beer.
At night, the stall was bustling. Most customers seemed to be tourists who'd presumably also heard about the place in the New York Times. I ordered a half-pint of Hardcore IPA from Brew Dog, and it was my first, and only taste of delicious hoppy beer in Southeast Asia. Guess how much this half-pint set me back?
... are you ready? Did you guess? Wow you got it exactly right! Yeah, it was around $14 CAD! Ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact that I could only afford half a pint of this one beer. It was a deliciously hoppy beer with resinous pine bitterness. At 9.2% ABV it was rather strong, and required a slow sip. Overall it was just the bees knees.
Now, onto the rest of the beers which just didn't appeal to me. It's as if Southeast Asia is 20 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to craft beer. Although the following beers are inoffensive, they are bland, and almost indistinguishable from one another.
Bintang, Indonesia's favourite beer, is made with water, barley, sugar, hops (maybe a pellet's worth) and yeast. Meh.
Equally bland, though maybe a touch more aromatic is Kingfisher lager from India. I had this one in Singapore and I must emphasize that it's not bad, it's really hard to comment on because it tastes nearly identical to all the rest.
Not as flavourless, and a bit stronger at around 8% is Black Label. There's a bit of spice in this beer, but is mostly just for getting drunk.
As we walked through the Botanical Gardens of Singapore on a very hot and sunny day, we sipped Anchor Strong from Malaysia. Though bland, it hit the spot by quenching our thirst and cooling us down. Sometimes a watery lager just fits the environment.
All this mediocre beer got me thinking that a craft beer revolution in Southeast Asia is probably imminent. Perhaps it would be wise to set up shop over here as the market is less bloated. As an early pioneer, Silly Sir could take the region by storm!
If you have any tips on where I can find good beer in Southeast Asia, please leave a comment below. I am desperate (conversely you can ship me some too, I won't mind. I'll be having an extended stay in one location of Malaysia for about a month very soon with Sara's extended family)
Published by: Matti in Reviews and Remarks