Tired of “Thai” craft beers that were never actually brewed here? The real fun can be found in the growing homebrew scene, where brewers produce in smaller batches, have full control of the process and let their imaginations run wild. Here are the names you need to know.
Since 2015, Canadian biochemist Mike Roberts has been trying out new recipes on a weekly basis at his brewpub in Loei, northern Thailand. Of these, Roberts estimates that 20-30 styles have made it to a second batch and fewer yet have graduated to legal status (brewed abroad). To try the full range, head up north to the brewpub, where the prices are also cheaper than Bangkok.
Try this: The Gateway and Show Down IPAs are two that are now available legally (B200/each).
Available at: DogStep, Fat Cow and Changwon Express (occasionally) for B180-220. Look out for a new batch of recipes in Bangkok this month.
Thai brewer Bird Thomas discovered a fascination for homebrewing back in 2013 when he was driving around England and randomly stopped in at a brewpub. This love affair that’s crossed oceans manifests in the American Brown Ale, which twists the brown ale popular in the UK with a recipe that gives it a fruitier, slightly more nutty, flavor. It’s one of six labels currently available.
Try this: The American IPA, a West Coast-style IPA that moves very quickly (B200).
Available at: Changwon Express Flow House, Where Do We Go (Chok Chai 4, 094-548-2326), Let The Boy Die, Let The Girl Kill for B140-200.
Little is known about this rising brewery, whose members keep a low-profile even on their Facebook fan page. What we think we know: they’re a group of women. What we definitely know: their beers are lovely.
Try this: The Raspberry Ale is super-refreshing and perfect for summer. Don’t worry, it’s not sweet—the raspberry is all in the aroma. The Black India Pale Ale is an easy-to-drain black beer ideal for IPA fans who are not big stout drinkers.
Available at: DogStep for B200.
Lazy Fat Cat
Not only did this Bangkok-based brewer win the New England IPA category at April’s Thailand Homebrew Competition, where judges praised its hazy color, hoppy taste and rich aroma, they also brew using hops from Nonthaburi’s Devanom Farm—this is as local as you get!
Try this: While the NEIPA (B200) takes the plaudits, we also vouch for their IPA (B240).
Available at: DogStep, Lazy Fat Cat (B180-200).
This Chonburi-hailing home brewery has been going strong for three years now, and just landed third place in both the IPA and New England IPA categories at the Thailand Home-Brew Competition.
Try this: We loved the light floral notes in their NEIPA (B200), which help soften the bitterness.
Available at: DogStep, Yolo (140 Phra Athit Rd., 082-456-4499), Chitbeer (B160-220).
Despite being only nine months old, these guys don’t disappoint, especially if you are an IPA lover. Brewed in Bangkok by two Americans and one Scottish, Hop Hog currently offers six labels of the hoppy variety.
Try this: The Thai craft beer community is currently going crazy over the smoother, less bitter flavors of New England IPA, and Hop Hog’s batch (B200) hits the mark for grownup drinkers who want to taste more than hops in their beer.
Available at: DogStep, Fat Cow, Let The Boy Die, Que Pasa (28/7 Prasoet Islarm, Nonthaburi, 02-960-3821), Yolo (B160-220).
Bangkok’s best places to buy homebrews
The Old Town’s craft beer pioneer, among the first to support the local homebrew scene, recently returned in a new location across the road from the original.
542 Luang Rd., 099-493-9909. Open daily 5pm-midnight
This compact Charoenkrung bar hosts a recurring Bring Your Own Beer (BYOB) night, which asks homebrewers to bring in their latest batches for others to try.
747 Charoenkrung Rd., 080-599-6177. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
This tiny craft beer bar in On Nut stocks probably the widest selection of quality homebrews. Extra perks: it sits just three shop-houses down from the new Cheap Charlie’s.
The Beacon Place, Sukhumvit Soi 50, 094-695-4619. Open daily 5-11pm
Lad Phrao’s must-visit for for bottled homebrews (plus a few on tap) paired with American comfort food.
765 Lad Phrao Rd., 092-556-2876. Open daily noon-11pm
What’s your favorite Thai homebrew right now?
Ted Ahn, owner of Changwon Express
“I like Thomas Beer’s American IPA, a West Coast-style IPA with an aggressive fruity aroma backed with the right amount of bitterness. Refreshing on a hot day in Bangkok, it’s also our most popular homebrew IPA of all time.”
Phapananya “Kaimook” Asawisaraporn, owner of Dogstep
“I like Outlaw’s Gateway IPA. I’m not a beer snob so I’m not sure how to describe it, but for me the taste and the aroma is nicely balanced and I can drink it any time without getting bored of it.”