To say I’m a fan of craft beer is a bit of an understatement. Craft beer has been a large part of my identity for the last nine years. Hell, I crafted an entire craft beer diet and even wrote a book about it. And yes, I used to be “that guy” who’d rail against mega-batch, flavorless beer as I held out for the good stuff.
Well I’m in Thailand, and there is no good stuff.
OK, that’s a little extreme. You can get good quality craft beer in Thailand, but it’s a giant pain in the ass to find and way way more expensive than the mass-produced option. Like, almost an order of magnitude more. Yeah, that’s expensive.
So instead of fighting it, I’m embracing it. Perhaps a dozen years from now, with the near-constant increase in expats and long-term “tourists”, the industry will surge, lowering prices on imports, and causing some entrepreneurial minded locals (native or not) to start a sustainable brewery or twelve here in Thailand. But until that time, I’m drinking the local stuff.
I made that decision two months ago, and I don’t really regret it. In my previous life, I’d spend a goodly amount of time on beer/food pairing. It got to the point where my local spots knew they’d not get a beer order out of me until after I’d ordered food. And more often than not, I’d have them bring out 3-4 samplers as soon as my food arrived, just so I could find the right beer with the right complimentary flavor profile.
Desert was a similar process, with me carefully weighing my options and doing the mental BAC math, deciding if we should split or share and how our subtle difference in craft beer taste would play out with that piece of chocolate fudge cake. Breakfast? Perfect for beer. Bacon thickness, smoke, and sweetness can seriously impact a morning beer. You don’t want your imperial brown competing with the maple, but sometimes a subtle rauch and the hickory smoke can work quite well together.
I don’t have any of those concerns in Thailand. Because here, beer tastes like Thai beer. My personal favorite is Chang (preferably a large one) and it pairs nicely with… everything. My scortching-hot laab moo or Sheila’s subtle pad thai. A hot day at the beach or a hot day at the pool. A relaxing evening binging on Netflix or closing the bar with a bunch of expats. There isn’t a situation where having a cool, refreshing Chang -- yes, sometimes over ice -- hasn’t made the Thai experience that much better.
Well, unless I can find a place that sells craft beer. Then screw that swill. I’ll take a double IPA