Thai Beers, All You Need to Know
So you’ve found yourself in Thailand and are more than excited to sit back on the beach, watch the sunset and drink an ice cold Thai beer. Sounds wonderful huh? Are you going to grab a Singha? Chang? Tiger? Leo? What are the differences and which one do the locals call elephant piss? There are a couple unique facts about Thai beer and we are happy to share our thoughts on all the thai beers with you below!
First off, we’ve got to talk about Singha. Singha is the quintessential Thai beer, proudly displaying that since 1939, it has been the only beer allowed to display the Royal Thai Garuda symbol on its neck. A pale lager, Singha (pronounced sing) is light, refreshing and has a sweet aftertaste. As the number one beer in Thailand, it is well advertised and carries with it a certain mystic as an exotic and exciting beer. Available world wide since 2007, it is enjoyed a popularity in its world wide consumption in recent years, due in partially to a four year marketing partnership with English Premier Football Club Chelsea. The “Singha” is a powerful mythological lion, found in ancient Hindu and Thai stories, the image displayed on all bottle and cans. Singha is 5.0% (abv)
In 2007, Singha announced a 3.5% (abv) version of its popular lager
Chang, meaning elephant in Thai, is the annoying little brother of Singha. The cheap Thai beer is often ignored by many Thais and foreign expats who know better, as it is brewed at a surprising 6.4% (abv), which can catch even the most experienced beer drinker off guard. The higher alcohol content is not obvious off the bat, but mixed with the hot weather and its incredibly light and bubbly content, can catch up to you quickly. And with the big bottles selling for around $1-2 and legal to drink on the streets, many tourists find themselves enjoying their evenings a little sooner then they planned if they have a couple during dinner or while out walking around. So watch your back, elephant piss will catch up with you.
In Thailand you can also find Chang Light and Chang Export. Many assume the Chang light would be less calories, it actually has lower alcohol contend with the same amount of calories. Chang Export sounds fancy, but in reality is still just a cheap malt liquor.
After the two big Thai beers comes Leo. Leo is the favorite Thai beer of many expats because it is not too sweet and not too dry. Leo is brewed by the Boon Rawd Brewery, same as Singha, but is not heralded as a premium beer. Slightly cheaper than Singha, Leo can sometimes be hard to find at many popular tourist bars since its brewers want to promote Singha, and not its cheaper little brother. A delicious Thai beer, our favorite, make sure to try one when you are in Thailand. If you can’t find a Leo in a bar, surely the 7-11 within spitting distance from you will carry them. Worth noting is the fast that Leo translates to lion, although the logo is a leopard, which we never understood.
The last in the list of (all animal themed!) Thai beers is Tiger. While actually the first locally brewed beer of Singapore, Tiger has gotten very popular in Thailand as well. Another pale lager, Tiger is liked by many as having a bit more flavor than Singha, without the cheap taste or feeling of Chang. While still a pale lager, it is a good choice and by no standards a bottom of the barrel beer. 5.0% (abv)
SAN MIGUEL (Honorable Mention)
“San Mig” as it is referred to in Thailand, rounds out the top 5 most popular Asian beers. While San Miguel is the official beer of the Philippines, with 95% of the market share, its San Miguel Light is enjoying massive success in Thailand. The only beer sold in Thailand in a clear glass bottle, many compare it to Corona and the “light” makes it very popular among the ladies and those watching their calorie intake while on vacation (seriously?). Often enjoyed with a slice of lime, it greatly enhances the flavor, rendering the beer drinking experience very similar to drinking a Corona. I enjoyed San Miguel a lot during my time in the Philippines but rarely see plain old San Miguel here, only light. San Mig is light and refreshing, seemingly lighter than other beers, most likely because you’ve had a few and the clear glass makes you think its lighter. Word of caution, if in the Philippines, watch out for Red Horse, also made by San Miguel Beverages. Each batch is brewed at a different percentage so you never know what you’re going to get!
So thats it! Enjoy a couple of the different options and let us know what you think. We personally love Singha and Leo, although admit sometimes a rough day calls for a Chang. Pints up, and enjoy that spicy Thai food with a delicious cold Thai beer!
Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.
A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.
Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll respond super fast!