Six imported brews to expand your beer horizons.
History: Produced by the Van Diest brewery just outside of Ghent in Belgium, Fruli is an intense strawberry flavored white fruit beer. It won a gold medal at the International Beer Competition in 2004, and was named World’s Best Fruit Beer at the World Beer Awards in 2009.
Appearance: It has very dark, coppery-red hue, with a pretty small head and not too many bubbles.
Smell: Not suprisingly, it has a very strong strawberry aroma, but it’s not exactly the scent of a freshly-plucked strawberry. There’s definitely a hint of vanilla, too, which makes us think of sweet Italian sodas and perfume.
Mouth feel: Initially pretty fizzy, almost sherbety on the tongue, it quickly fades to a nice smooth finish.
Taste: It’surprisingly light, despite the strong strawberry smell. The fruity tones are quickly overtaken by a strong vanilla flavor, but there’s definitely a final rather sweet, candy after taste, however it’s not too cloying.
Overall: This really is for those who aren’t big fans of the normal hoppy/bitter tastes of regular beers. If you like Italian soda, then you’ll love this beer, but like an Italian soda, we’re not sure that we would be able to drink a lot in one go, because it is quite sweet.
Lowdown: B220, 33cl, 4.1%.
Get it at: Available at all branches of House of Beers (HOBs), which has grown to four branches around town. Try the newest at new community mall Nawamin Festival Walk.
Vedett Extra White
History: Brewed by the people behind the better-known Belgian beer Duvel, Vedett has only been around only since 2008. Ostensibly a white beer, the use of ingredients like orange peel in the brewing process, along with the fact that it is actually refermented in the bottle, gives it a distinctive zesty taste.
Appearance: It has a pale yellow, slightly wheaty and slightly cloudy appearance that is a little darker than Hoegaarden. It’s topped by a bright-white frothy head.
Smell: The aroma, while underscored by hints of citrus, herbs and wheat, is pretty subdued.
Mouth feel: Unlike other white beers, this has a remarkably light texture that doesn’t feel too carbonated.
Taste: There’s obviously the hint of orange, but also elements of coriander, wheat and grapefruit that combine to give it a slightly sour taste that feels very refreshing. It also doesn’t have that slightly medicinal flavor of stronger wheat beers
Overall: This is definitely an option for those who find Hoegaarden and other similar wheat powers too overpowering, this is both light and refreshing, making it a good option as we gear up for the hot summer months.
Lowdown: B200, 33cl, 4.7%.
Get it at: Head down to one of the newest champions of imported beers, The Pintsman, in Silom. They offer a relaxed contemporary pub vibe, some good drink deals before 7pm, live music and, most importantly, a choice of over 50 draught and bottled beers to try.
History: Another Belgian beer, Barbar is a light blond ale that is most notable for its use of honey in the brewing process. Based on a closely-guarded secret family recipe, it’s origins can be traced back to the old Viking drink called mid.
Appearance: It has an effervescent rich golden yellow with plenty of bubbles but a small, light creamy looking head.
Smell: The aroma is a malty, bitter burned caramel mixed with a underlying fruity scent.
Mouth Feel: The initial fizz quickly dissolves on the tongue, followed by a light body that is almost watery and cleansing.
Taste: There’s initially a slightly medicinal, bitter first hit but this softens to leave richer flavors like burned toffee and that hint of sweet honey.
Overall: Light like a standard lager, it benefits from having more depth than most local offerings. Be careful though, this one packs a deceptively powerful punch despite the sweetness of the honey.
Lowdown: B140, 33cl, 8%.
Get it at: If you’re a real aficionado then you can try the draft version (0.33cl, B40) of this at the newly-opened Wine Connection Tapas at the Rain Hill community mall. As well as an impressive wine list, they also have over ten intriguing draught and bottled beers from Belgium to sample.
Floreffe Abbey Beer Blonde
History: Apparently the abbey of Floreffe first got a brewery in the year 1250. This strong ale beer is still brewed using water from the abbey well and has candy sugar added during the boiling process to give it a rich aroma and bitter taste.
Appearance: With a dark caramel color, it is pretty cloudy thanks to the rich sediment (it’s meant to be there) that dances in the bubbles and helps give it a thick, rich and creamy head.
Smell: Very malty, with a hint of berries and a touch of citrus.
Mouth Feel: Medium-bodied and slightly prickly on the tongue, it ends on a dry note.
Taste: The first hit is a strong bouquet of fruits and warm, slightly bitter malt and molasses; but this quickly softens to leave you with a powerful liquorice finish.
Overall: Certainly not the most complex abbey beer from Belgian, it does at least have some intriguing elements, which make it a good starter for those looking to enter the world of monastery ales. It’s also not too potent, letting you enjoy its flavors and remember them the next day.
Lowdown: B140, 33cl, 6.3%
Get it at: Another to be enjoyed at Wine Connection: with its giant glass conservatory setup (there are trees growing through the glass roof) and industrial edge, this place gets super busy on weekends. Or if you want to savor the taste away from the crowds then pick up a bottle from their shop next door.
London Pride Porter
History: The Porter actually evolved in the 18th century from the practice of mixing stale ale with fresher brews to create a distinct type of ale. This version by the Chiswick-based brewer’s Fullers, who also produce the paler bitter London Pride, has won numerous gold medals at international competitions.
Appearance: Looks almost like a stout with its rich dark, purple-black color and very few bubbles, but does have a small creamy head that lasts for the whole drink.
Smell: Strong, bitter flavors softened by an almost chocolatey richness.
Mouth Feel: Mild at first, it has a velvety touch that fades into a long, slightly acidic, slightly dry finish.
Taste: Quite earthy and very rich, it has a bitter chocolate and coffee flavor but then ends on a distinctly liquorice aftertaste.
Overall: Very smooth, very enjoyable—this is for those who like the taste and feel of stouts, like Guinness, but don’t want quite the same heaviness or bitter aftertaste. Complex but delicious.
Lowdown: B260, 500ml, 5.4%
Get it at: Try it at the always busy Beer Brews and Cider, at Seenspace, which offers an impressive range of Belgian and German beers, as well as some rare ciders, too, in a contemporary slightly industrial-looking space. They also share the pleasant outdoor courtyard with Clouds which means you can enjoy your pint while sat out in the courtyard scoping out the Thonglor crowds.
History: As the name suggests this is a beer brewed according to age-old traditional recipes, and, to add to the heritage, it’s made by one of the world’s oldest continuously operating breweries, Weihenstephan, which traces its history back to 768 A.D. A classic Bavarian Ale, it’s made for long winter nights while you chew on a pork knuckle.
Appearance: A rich, dark oak-colored brown that’s similar in appearance to well-brewed tea. It’s full of bubbles and has a small cream-colored head.
Smell: Quite a strong aroma of hops but there are also hints of blackberry as well.
Mouth Feel: Very mild with a slight tingle from the bubbles that transforms into a very silky finish.
Taste: A mix of rich sweet-caramel tones from the malts, underpinned by a slight sourness from the fruits. Very smooth, very well-balanced.
Overall: While this is officially a Dunkel (lager), the strong flavors, great balance and complex elements mean this actually tastes much closer to a bitter or English ale. One of our favorites and one to enjoy at length.
Lowdown: B220,500ml, 5.2%
Get it at: This beer has actually been around in Bangkok for quite a while but is thankfully now getting a wider distribution thanks to places like The Pinstman. If you prefer to drink alone then you can also pick up a bottle at your nearest Tops Supermarket.
Many of these places change their available beers on a fairly regular basis or can run out of favorites. Make sure to check their websites or Facebook page for updates.
House Of Beers. Nawamin Festival Walk, 299 Prasertmanukit Rd. Sena Intersection Ladprao, 02-907-0934-5. Facebook.com/HOBS-House-of-Beers
The Pintsman. B/F, United Center Building, 323 Silom Rd., 084-469-5511. Open daily 11-1am. Facebook.com/ThePintsman
Beer, Brews and Ciders. Seen Space, Thonglor Soi 13. 02-185-2366. Open daily 4pm-2am. Facebook.com/brewbkk
Wine Connection. 1/F, Rainhill, Sukhumvit Soi 43. 02-261-7217. Open daily 10-1am. www.wineconnection.co.th
KNOW YOUR BEER