Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Asian beer

Whenever we make the trip back to Malaysia/Thailand I almost cringe at the thought of having to drink beer there. They taste watered down and have the light color normally associated with a particular bodily fluid. they are also a reminder of the less than glorious days in college when Busch and Budweiser was the norm.

I don’t know much about the beer market there but it looks like microbrews have not made any inroads there, not that I’d expect it to. In Bangkok, one might have to go to beer bars if one wanted to enjoy a good beer. (With two kids in tow, I haven’t made this trek so I can’t attest to it.) The only beers I see on the shelf in Bangkok are Singha, Chang, and Tiger Beer and perhaps one or two other less illustrious and just as lightly colored beer. I don’t even see Guinness.

It reminds me of the time when I was in Canada (Ottawa, Toronto) almost five years ago - all I could buy was Molson. Is there some kind of import control in these countries or just plain monopolies coupled with payoffs to politicians to protect the domestic beer market?

As such, most of these trips are dry trips for me.

Update (Sep. 6, 2012): Found this article on BBC:

Microbrewers as well as importers have come into vogue. Scott Baczek, an American brewer at the Pump Room bar and restaurant, makes four beers year-round - lager, ale, india pale ale and wheat ale - and one additional seasonal beer.
He sees the burgeoning of beer in South-East Asia as a big opportunity.
"If you're sitting outside on a sweltering Singapore Sunday afternoon, you will most likely want something thirst-quenching, light in body, with a dry, crisp finish - probably not an imperial stout, more likely a light, crisp lager," he says.
But he has noted that the "local palate" is a diverse one - providing brewers with a wide range of possibilities to explore.

Now they only need to expand into the retail beer market.

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