Beer of Asia

By Sophia Hsu

Summer always lends itself to having an ice cold beer with dinner or at a friend’s cookout. You’ll be sure to choose a beer that compliments your light summer mood. I thought it would be fun to enlist a few friends to assist me in rating some popular Asian beers on color, bouquet, drinkability, flavor, and aftertaste.

Singha beer is probably the most well-known beer out of Thailand. It boasts that it is a premium lager beer brewed from the finest ingredients. Singha Lager is a full-bodied 100% barley malt beer that is distinctively rich in taste with strong hop characteristics. We found Singha Lager to be fairly light in color, with an aroma like any other lager at first whiff, and mild in flavor. It’s very drinkable, with a slightly bitter aftertaste, and 5.5% alcohol content.

Beer Lao is Laos’ national beer. We tried the Beerlao Dark with a 6.5% alcohol content, and dark in color it was. From the website, I found this description: “Beer Lao dark is an award winning beer brewed with the finest ingredients and roasted malt. A full-bodied taste experience with a golden brown color”. When you first open the bottle, it smells rich and dark-roasted. It is only mildly drinkable. The interesting occurrence was that the taste-testers were split on the flavor of the beer by gender. The female taste-testers all tasted a metallic flavor to the beer with an aftertaste of having suckedon a penny. The male taste-testers found the flavor rather sweet which also reflected in the aftertaste.

Oriental Brewery is a Korean brewery producing OB Blue (Brewing at low temperature maturation & fermentation). One of the top two beers in Korea, the tasters found that the beer was very light in color with very little noticeable fragrance. With its extremely mild flavor making it very drinkable, the tasters were surprised to find out that there was only 4.4% alcohol content. Normally lighter-colored beers tend to be lagers with higher alcohol content than darker beers like stouts. With OB Blue, there was absolutely no aftertaste. It was definitely very crisp and refreshing for summer.

TruChill Double Deer with 3.1% alcohol content is less familiar to Americans than Tsingtao, yet is from the same homeland, China. The tasters found that the beer was definitely light in color, smelled sweet, and was light and crisp making is definitely very drinkable. It was slightly sweet, with a mild flavor and only a hint of a bitter aftertaste. This beer went well with snacks after the initial taste test was completed.

Sapporo has been an established brand since 1876, and markets itself as Japan’s oldest brand. The imported premium beer with 4.9% alcohol by volume can be found in just about every corner deli in New York. With a golden color, a hoppy bouquet, a bright flavor, good drinkability, and not-so-strong aftertaste, I can see why it is such a pervasive Japanese beer. We tried Asahi which was unanimously voted very low on drinkability. We also compared Kirin Ichiban which had citrusy notes; but hands down, Sapporo was the Japanese darling of the trio.

I would like to thank Amit Chaffee, Jeremy Holt, Erica Soto, and Rachael Cline for taking this drinking tour with me of some of the beers of Asia.