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Better Brews


In Southeast Asia, beer usually means cold, watery lager. But if you’re looking for a drink that leaves more than just a buzz, stop by these brewpubs. By JENNIFER CHEN

Published on Apr 29, 2010

The French might have imparted an appreciation of coffee, wine and baguettes to the Vietnamese, but the local obsession with bia hoi—a refreshing, light pilsner—is homegrown. Most Hanoi residents reckon their city provides the most authentic bia hoi experience, but Ho Chi Minh City boasts this enormous, 500-seat Czech-style beer garden. It’s Southeast Asian Bohemia, complete with oompah music, dark timber and artery-clogging fare such as pigs’ trotters. But the beer is the thing here, and Hoa Vien has two of its own brews on offer: a bia vang tuoi, or pilsner, and a bia den, a darker, hoppier tipple.

28 Mac Dinh Chi Street, District 1; +84 8 829 058

With a population of 4 million and five breweries, the city–state boasts probably the highest ratio of microbreweries per capita in the region. But Brewerkz deserves sole credit for starting Singapore’s microbrew movement. When it first opened in 1997, the beer scene was pretty dreary: “Nothing but industrial pilsners and stouts,” says founder Devin Otto Kimble. Today, the original 840-square-meter brewery pulls in huge crowds, especially on weekends. Look out for new Brewerkz locations at Singapore Indoor Stadium, Bukit Timah Road and Changi Airport’s Terminal 3.

01–05 Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road; +65 6438 7438;

This cavernous beer hall celebrates Oktoberfest year-round—albeit a peculiarly Thai–German hybrid. A nightly show by house band Fong Nam is a lively mix of Thai favorites, old and new; in fact, it’s probably the only place in Bangkok where you can enjoy classical dance as well as local country and western in a single evening. And the draft brews, especially the wheat beer, beat Singha any day.

462/61 Rama 3 Road; +66 2678 1114-6;


Not technically a brewpub, this long-time favorite among local and expatriate beer aficionados does serve ales from the Hong Kong Brewing Company, the territory’s only microbrewery. Also on offer are great beers from all over the world, including Brooklyn Lager, London Pride and Belgium’s Duval and Chimay. If you want to enjoy your pints alfresco, pop next door to Inn Side Out, which serves the same quality drinks.

10 Hysan Avenue, Sunning Plaza, Causeway Bay; +852 2577 9119


Founded in 1931 by German brewer Beck’s, the Archipelago Brewery Company was Singapore’s first commercial brewery. But at the advent of World War II, British colonial rulers seized the brewery and then sold it off. For years, Archipelago only produced one stout, until 2006, when an enterprising young Singaporean, Andrea Teo, recruited American brewmaster Fal Allen to help her resurrect the historic label. Not content with churning out the usual pale ales and wheat beers, Allen set out to make microbrews that used Asian spices and herbs. Visit the flagship pub near Boat Quay to sample his concoctions. Our favorite among Allen’s six beers is the Trader’s Brown ale—a mellow beverage with a touch of gula melaka, or palm sugar.

79 Circular Road; +65 6327 8408;

Red Dot BrewHouse (25 Dempsey Rd.; +65 647 0500) adds to Singapore’s burgeoning microbrew scene, with six beers, including one that features kaffir lime and another with spirulina. Also of note is The Pump Room at Clarke Quay (01-09–10; 3B River Valley Road; +65 6334 2628). Ignore the middling menu and on-the-prowl bankers, and order a pint of the lip-smacking India Pale Ale.


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