A Whiff of Hops…

Due to a hangover of elephantine proportions, Stuart ‘pansy-pants’ Singleton is replaced this month by Managing Director Cameron ‘Rotgut’ Cooper.  While the ban on alcoholic beverage advertising is emptying the pockets of publishers, gig promoters and sportsmen across the land, one must remember that every turd has a silver lining and we can finally say what we want about the booze being passed across the bar in Thailand without fear of ads being pulled – not that we ever promoted anything we didn’t believe in, which is quite easy with beer, but perhaps there have been a few lies of omission.  So it’s all the Kingdom’s beers head to head on one boozy night.

In the interests of fair play and pickled livers, premium beers were tested first to give the cheap ones a handicap. All beers were served at room temperature, with ice. At no point was the spittoon utilised. Performed under controlled circumstances. Readers should not try this at home as it is best left to the professionals.

ASAHI: “Japan’s No. 1 Beer”, 5%

Dan: One of my favourites, a good beer to start on but tastes awful after drinking another brand.  Sadly, usually only available in Japanese restaurants and go-go bars.

Cam: Flavourless yet subtle, much like Japanese cuisine, but easy to drink and inoffensive.

KLOSTER: “Schutz Marke”, 5.2%

Dan: Definitely ‘bier’ with its full nose and hoppy flavour.  Like Asahi, you can’t switch to it after Chang, but Kloster scores points for having a big cat on the label (the sign of any worthwhile beer).  Plenty of character, just one I’m not fond of.

Cam: Some people swear by Kloster, but then some people like to have their bums paddled.  A strong start and end to the flavour, but kind of hollow in the middle.  Not bad, but I always drink to World peace and it’s just wrong to do that with a German beer.

HEINEKEN: “Premium Quality”, 5%

Dan: Familiar territory this one.  For so long the green bottle has ruled the roost for it’s clean taste and mild hangovers.  A familiar flavour, in that there isn’t one, except for that sudsy, bloated feeling you get after the first half dozen.

Cam: The red star says it all. A capitalist beer with communist leanings – the brew for the proletariat who can afford it.  Has a very mid-range taste, inoffensive with no highs or lows.  Popular, though hardly revolutionary.

SAN MIGUEL: “Since 1890”, 5%

Top of the heap

Dan: Another lager beer, but don’t make the mistake of referring to

it as a Philippines brew as it’s actually from Spain.  For me, a swallow of Mr Miguel brings back memories of Hong Kong, where it’s the cheapest on the rack.

Cam: A bit of tang in this bevvie, and the sweetest tipple so far.  Not sure if I’d want a big night on this one – it’s more of a dessert beer.

TIGER: Has gold medals from London, Geneva, Paris, 5%

Dan: Another big cat beer.  Tiger is made by the Heineken bunch here and slipped into the gap left when Carlsberg told Mr Chang to go fuck himself, though only after getting fucked by Mr Chang for far too long.  Tiger gets my vote just for that.

Cam: As the poor-man’s premium beer there’s not much to say about Tiger – not much character, fairly inoffensive, but it is my regular tipple at deadline time, so God bless ‘em, they’ve inspired many an off-colour photo caption.

CHANG LIGHT: “Thailand’s finest larger beer”, 4.2%

Dan: A few years ago I would have never used the word ‘Chang’ and ‘light’ in the same sentence, yet today this green-bottled beverage is gaining ground in the midrange market.  No gold medals on this one, yet – maybe the manufacturer hasn’t got around to buying them yet.

Cam: After a very limited number of Changovers and swearing off the stuff, I must admit that this is a surprisingly fine drop.  Like a cheeky San Miguel and none of normal Chang’s characteristic afterburn.

SINGHA: “The original Thai beer since 1933”, 6%

Dan: Singha, or Lion Beer (cats again) has a long and more recently dishonourable history.  Known for its sour taste and atomic hangovers, it is, nevertheless, Thailand’s first ever attempt at brewing the amber ale that didn’t result in a massive explosion.

Cam: Surprisingly, Singha stacks up pretty well against the competition tonight.  A little sweet, this full-flavoured beer isn’t as bitter as it used to be.  As I used to hear in my dark, dank and highly embarrassing English teaching days, it is a “manly beer” as claimed by the same manly men who also thought themselves immune to AIDS.

SAN MIG LIGHT: “Low Calorie”, 5%

Dan: Coming in a clear bottle, they evidently don’t expect ‘San Mig’ to be on the shelf too long before going skunky.  I guess the ‘light’ refers to its slimming qualities as its alcohol content is up there with the best of them.

Cam: Certainly tastes light and inoffensive, in fact, it’s a bit like Bangkok tap water with less flavour.  A girly beer, in spite of being named after a Russian fighter plane.

LEO: Gold medals from Munchen a.k.a Munic, 5.5%

Dan: Good old Mr Reliable has a cat on the cover too.  I’ve got a soft spot for Leo’s sweetish-sour taste and he’s put me to bed on more occasions than I care to remember.  Like most Leo drinkers, I’m a sucker for the tolerable taste and Bt39 price tag.

Cam: Like a journey down the old dirt road.  After the first metallic tang kills your mid-tongue region, it becomes like riding moped or a fat lass – fine as long as your friends don’t see you.  But even if they don’t, you hate yourself in the morning.


Dan: Who let the draught in?  Ha ha.  No catchphrase on the bottle, so I guess they expect this to sell itself based on the fine times you had with it in your favourite tappery.  Personally, I prefer the lighter, more full-bodied Chang Light.

Cam: One thing you can say for this nothing beer is that it doesn’t taste shitty.  Chang Draught has no start, middle or finish.  I can’t think of a man over 20 who’d drink it unless someone else was buying.

BLUE ICE: “Ice Smooth”, 6.4%

Dan: The San Miguel people slip another bottle into the scrum.  We’re well acquainted with ice beers in Australia so verbiage like “Redefines refreshment”, or “Special cooling effect,” bounces off my boozy armour and I see this for what it is – rocket fuel.

Cam: Hyperbole aside, this beer tastes like no other, in fact it doesn’t seem like beer at all.  More like a hopless malt beverage that might just pass for Baby Duck sparkling wine at a redneck cocktail party in Fort MacMurray, Alberta.  A rare brew where the hangover kicks in before you even get drunk


Dan: Ahh, scrape the bottom of the shopping cart and there’s yet another offering from San Miguel, squarely aimed at the manly Thai man who likes a beer that’s harsh on the noggin but easy on the pocket.  Tastes like a red horse had some mictural involvement in its production.

Cam: This isn’t beer either. Goes down like syrup with a finish to make a Russian weep.  Is it lager? Ale? Lighter fluid?  How many potatoes does it take to make one bottle? Needs plenty of ice, and nobody will accuse you of being gay if you make a shandy out of it because it will still be stronger than anything they’re drinking.

CHEERS: “Full flavour, smooth beer”, 5.6%

Dan: The people who make Heineken get their revenge with Cheers, the beer where everybody knows your name but you can’t remember your own.  Cameron cried out after his first sip as if tasting something foul, making me nervous about this one.  Doesn’t taste like beer.

Cam: Heineken bottles print “Enjoy Heineken responsibly,” on their labels but they don’t bother with that nonsense on Cheers.  “Go on, get fucked up and see if we care,” is the motto they were too timid to print.  If I was a Thai lumberjack with a hangover, this is what I’d put on my pancakes.  Amusingly, they have a gold medal printed on the neck that looks like it was borrowed off General Chavalit’s chest – and equally deserved.

CHANG: AIBA Gold Medal, 6.4%

Dan: Let’s get one thing straight: AIBA stands for Australian International Beer Award and is judged by a bunch of brewing students (pissheads) in my home town of Ballarat.  Chang won their medal in the first year of the awards, along with everyone else who turned up.  Popular with backpackers for its low cost and mule’s kick, don’t drink this one in quantity if you have any plans for the next day or two.

Cam: Ah, the dreaded Chang.  With its ignominious history of being poured down the throats of the public when the brewery forced distributors to purchase it if they wanted to receive any Lao Khao (the popular cheap rice liquor), this didn’t become number one for its quality.  But at three for Bt100 – sufficient to make a television screen visually indecipherable – the peasants embraced it.  Overpowering flavour, but unlike the other cheapies, it does actually taste like beer.


Dan: Boon Rawd Brewery returned fire to the Chang fortifications with Thai Beer – a little bit stronger and a little bit cheaper, which should be a recipe for success, yet guts and glory and huge sales remain elusive for this budget lager.  Maybe they should put a lynx on the label.

Cam: Although bordering on not being beer at all, Thai’s surprisingly not bad.  A little thick with plenty of taste – just not a very good taste.

The Winner

One could say that Cameron and I are the winners as we spent a very long night getting tanked on company money (and we didn’t drop baby Amelia even once) but, Heineken unexpectedly wins by a nose for its clean taste and consistent quality, and because we know from long subjective experience that it carries the lightest of all the hangovers.

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