The Best Places in Asia to Grab a Brew
April 24, 2014
As the thirst for flavorful craft beers rises to a near unquenchable level, new microbreweries and tap-happy bars are flooding the market with a wave of beautiful brews. By Cole Pennington
Published on Apr 24, 2014
BREWERIES Great Leap Brewing (Doujiao Hutong #6 Beijing; +86 10 5717 1399; RMB60), has undergone a renovation—think age-worn wood and antique furnishings—and emerged as one of the trendiest places in town to grab brews inspired by China’s rich history and using local ingredients. The fledgling Kerry Hotel (1388 Hua Mu Rd., Shanghai; +86 21 6169 8888; RMB60) brews its core lineup right on the premises. In September, beer geeks attend The Kerry Hotel Craft Beer Festival, with more than 50 craft beers to sample.
T+L TIP Last year, Beijing’s Slow Boat Brewery enthusiasts could only fill up a growler from the tap, but now they can buy at certain outlets as well. Pop into El Gran Bocado Taqueria (1F, 55-6 Xingfucun Zhong lu Jiezuo Daxia, Chaoyang Dist., Beijing; +86 10 6416 1715) for some authentic Mexican street food and bring home a few bottles of the First Immortal Double India Pale Ale or the smooth, strong Zombie Pirate Pale Ale.
Slow Boat Brewery Taproom, Beijing.
BREWERY Kingdom Brewery is churning out Cambodia’s first and only craft beer.
BEER Kouprey Dark Lager is particularly tasty, with strong smoky and sweet notes thanks to imported German malts.
BARS In Phnom Penh, swig a bottle while taking in the view of the Tonle Sap River at the Foreign Correspondents Club (Preah Sisowath Quay; +855 23 210 142; US$8). For an up-close look at the operation, flag down the Kingdom’s double-decker bus for a free lift to The Taproom (1748 National Rd. 5; +885 23 430 180), their very own pour house.
T+L TIP Swing by Kingdom’s Taproom on a Friday for their TGIF deal—pay US$10 to enjoy endless draft brews and burgers from Mike’s Burger House, a small eatery bringing juicy burgers to the capital.
BREWERY What started as a foray into craft beer during an English teacher’s stay in 1989 is now Numazu’s Baird Brewing, one of Japan’s most exciting young breweries.
BEER Wabi-Sabi Japan Pale Ale, a new release, promises hyper-local Japanese herbs like wasabi and Green tea leaves to give it an unfamiliar dimension of zest.
BAR Baird Harajuku Taproom (Nosurrender Bldg. 2F,1-20-13, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; +81 3 6438 0450; ¥750) serves the firey Wabi-Sabi on tap.
T+L TIP Check out Baird Brewery Gardens Shuzenji, opening in the spring. They plan to maintain an orchard on the premises that will provide spices and ingredients for the many new brews debuting in 2014, like the small-batch Destination Ale that uses Japanese sweet plums called sumomo.
BREWERY Katipunan may be producing only about 2,000 bottles a month, but the young brewery is looking to “start a revolution” by bringing craft beer to the masses in Manila.
BEER Ditching the ubiquitous pilsner and lager styles, Katipunan (named after a Filipino revolutionary-era secret society) chooses to focus on the de riguer style of craft beer: pale ale. Try the winning combination of Indio Pale Ale with a burger at B&B Burgers and Brewskies (Unit E, Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, BGC; dinner for two P1,300)
BUY Bring home a bottle from organic grocer Ritual (Unit A, The Collective, 7274 Malugay St., San Antonio, 1203 Makati).
T+L TIP Try the Night and Day drafts by Craftpoint Brewing Co., a set of “twin beers” released this spring that use coffee beans supplied by coffee specialist The Curator.
Craftpoint Brewing Co.
BARS The recently opened Mikkeller Bar (Ekkamai 10, Yaek 2; +66 2 381 989; Bt500) has 30 taps and loads of bottles of their own and other special brews. Set in an airy house with a lovely garden, it’s destined to dominate Bangkok’s burgeoning beer scene. Meanwhile, Evil Twin Brewing’s esoteric one-off batches are exclusively at Beerosophy (+66 91 085 4876; Bt550).
IMPORTERS Pacific B&B is bringing in Italian ales; share a 750ml bottle like wine among friends at Bellino (Thonglor Soi 13, M Place Mall; +66 2 712 5446; dinner and drinks for two Bt1800). Beervana, the American ale importers, will add American-Japanese brewer Baird to its lineup.
T+L TIP Pour a pint of Baird’s from a custom draft wall, a first for Thailand, at SWAY (Thonglor Soi 10, Arena 10, Bangkok; Bt500).
Thirty taps flow at Mikkeller Bar.