Beer Review: Chang Beer

THIS is Chang Beer from Thailand. Not the first beer I’ve tried from Thailand. That honour goes to the straightforward, well made but ultimately uninspiring Singha Lager Beer. It might not be the first, but it is the hardest to find. This one came from a small batch my local Tesco bought in.

Chang Beer bottle

The hardest thing about writing about these Asian beers, is finding anything interesting to say about them. Almost universally, they are well made, easy to drink lagers that aren’t memorable in any way. They are great with a spicy meal, but try to remember the taste a week later, and you’ll be stumped. So will Chang Beer be any different?

The neck-foil seems to think so.

Chang Beer neck foil

It says that this “Premium Quality” brew won Gold at the 1998 Australian International Beer Awards. And you can depend on Australians to give it to you straight. It’s a good start for Chang Beer.

The front-label sticks to roundel traditions by looking like this:

Chang Beer front label

It also manages to conjure up enough imagery to look South East Asian. Helpful for clueless supermarket consumers like me. Look a little closer and Chang Beer has more welcome information.

It was brewed by “Cosmos Brewery Co., Ltd”. Possibly in a place called Ayutthaya in Thailand. Assuming the word “Ayutthaya” is actually a place name. If you know more than I do on this, do please leave a comment at the end of this post.

The good news continues. This bottle of Chang Beer doesn’t appear to be an unwelcome licensed replica from Bedford. The label says quite clearly “Product of Thailand” with “Imported” written in red. Good news indeed.

The vital statistics are also around the bottom border of the label. This 11.15 fluid ounce 330ml bottle has the equally ubiquitous 5% alcoholic volume. Facts that, together with the total absence of Thai words on the bottle, tell us that this really is their expert version.

The back label sticks to Asian beer export conventions by having only the bare essential details. No bad thing, mind.

Chang Beer back label

What can you say about it? It is literally a list of facts. So, here goes… This is “Thailand’s Number 1 Beer”. It contains malted barley.

It was brewed and bottled by Cosmos Brewery in Thailand, but was imported by Chang UK from, where else, but Moffat Distillery in Airdrie, Scotland. Where else would it come from?

They have a web address at www.changbeer.com. It’s Flash-heavy, but tolerable. And, at 5% alcoholic volume in a 330ml bottle. it has 1.65 of your UK units of alcohol.

And those are the facts. There is nothing else to say about the outside of the bottle, so it’s time for the part you came here for. What is the inside of the bottle like? Or, to put it another way, how does it taste and will it be better than its competitors? Let’s find out.

Chang Beer poured into a glass

In the glass, it looks exactly how you’d expect: pale amber in colour. It had a head when I took the photo, although that dissipated seconds later. The most striking thing about it is how fizzy it is.

Does it have a smell? Yes it does. It smells of much the same blend of malted barley as any other pilsner style lager that you’ve smelt. This one smells a little on the strong and synthetic side.

What does it taste like? First impressions are okay for Chang Beer. At least compared to pilsner style lagers. Being a lager, it has no flavour. That leaves everything hinging on the aftertaste. Which, I’m pleased to report, isn’t as horrible as some other lagers.

What you taste is a gentle taste of barley with a gentle, tingly bitterness. No bittersweet “bite”. Just a mild and easy bitterness that you’ll hardly notice. Even though it lingers for some time.

What do I like about Chang Beer? Before even opening the bottle, I loved that it was genuinely Thai, not a licensed replica from Tyneside. I like gentle taste. It’s what make this, and so many other Asian beers so easy to drink. With no lagery “bite”, there is nothing to object to about Chang Beer. Make it easy to drink are how clean, crisp and refreshing it is. All of which can be traced back to the quality and ingredients.

What don’t I like about Chang Beer? Mostly the flipside of how easy to drink it is. It is one of the wateriest beers I’ve tried. It’s also failed to be distinctive or memorable in any way. Not just compared to other Asian beers, but some South American ones too. Put this in a blind taste test with its competitors, and you’ll struggle to identify it. Mind you, you’ll fail to identify its competitors, as well. Besides that, it is gassy, and, at time of writing, hard to find in shops.

How can I sum up Chang Beer? It is exactly what I thought it would be. Not bad, not great, but probably excellent with a spicy meal. If you want something to go with your spicy meal, Chang Beer will not disappoint. But if you’re faced with a shop shelf of other Asian beers, is there a compelling reason to choose this one?

Rating: 2.9

Have you tried Chang Beer? What did you think of it?

Do please leave your corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy, here in the comments.

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16 Responses to “Beer Review: Chang Beer”

  1. alcoLOLic Says:

    i like the bottle. vintage.

  2. jj Says:

    Yes, Ayutthaya is a province in Thailand. Very famous for its history and is one of the most famous for the tourist

  3. BB Says:

    Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand back in the day before it was destroyed in a war and then moved.

    I’m not so sure Chang beer is still number one. They’ve been back and forth in recent years with Singha. Singha actually had over a 90% market share at one point until Chang started taking some market share away. If you say you want a beer in Thailand, they’ll give you a Singha, not a Chang.

  4. Ted Says:

    Actually Chang beer used to be number one when Thailand was in tom yum crisis. They do a black side to get that rank. Chang beer is not the most popular in Thailand according to the taste and 6.4 Alc contained. Chang beer is represent sub urban labor image because a lot of farmer prefer hard ALC degree and cheap cost more than the taste of beer. As your picture is a new label, they may change the taste already. I would recommend you to taste leo beer or singha beer because it has a better aroma and smooth. As you guy know the fresh beer is better, Leo beer in the market is out of stock every week. It mean that leo is the freshness beer in market.

  5. mimi Says:

    yes. Chang is not no. 1 as it has claimed itself. Chang use strategy give away for free and really cheao price to sell to customers..

  6. J Says:

    Try one to be known and you won’t buy it anymore

  7. Graham Moss Says:

    You’re right. Not unpleasant, but unremarkable. Bought a bottle at Tesco as I’d not seen it before and thought it worth a try. Too sweet for my taste, but it did slip down disturbingly quickly. I’m a real ale man at the pub, but in the house I’m turn Mr Hyde (though by the name Hyde would mean real ale, anyway…) and go for cold beer and generally I prefer Czech or German lager…and this didn’t challenge me to change that view.

  8. marcel piat Says:

    Is it true that Carlsberg was originally behind the production of Chang? – Another good brew!
    cheers M

  9. bford Says:

    Chang is also the main sponsor of Everton FC from Liverpool..

    Let’s go Toffee’s. You can see their logo represented on the front of their jersey/kit.

  10. Dave Says:

    It’s not brewed in Ayutaya but in kangpayphet west Thailand and here in Thailand comes in a 640 ml bottle and is 6.4 %. My favorite beer

  11. Paul Says:

    I’m living here in Thailand, always used to drink Leo, kind of like Miller High Life. I drink Chang now that funds are low, it goes further becuase of the 6.4% Alc. content. Thais drink beer or whiskey with a lot of water with very spicy meat dishes. This is the culture and the lifestyle. Chang is ok and inexpensive, a flavor you grow accustomed to. I see many Euros drinking Chang here.

  12. Phil Says:

    This isn’t ‘real’ Chang. It’s the export version, which is brewed with malt, rather than rice like the domestic Thai version which is 6.4%, and much nicer, in my opinion.

    Now if only I could find a supplier of the proper stuff in the UK at a reasonable price…

  13. Tony gebbie Says:

    Unfortunately the imported beer tastes nothing like the stuff in thailand.out there it is not regulated at source so can be anything between 6.4 percent (as stated on the bottle) up to 12 %. Also ayutthaya is a place 2 hours from bangkok.it is home to many temples that we visited.chang beer is by far the best beer in thailand

  14. Keith Says:

    Chang Classic, which is the domestic rice version, is far superior in taste and strength to Chang Export. I also prefer it to the other local brews like Leo and Singha and being cheaper than those, represents good value for money. Unfortunately I must admit to going native, and like many expats here I drink my beer with ice; disgusting in England but oh so nice here in Thailand.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Have agree with some of these posters.
    The Chang in Thailand is 6.4% alcohol & is a far better tasting beer to the 5% alc Chang Export that we get in Australia.
    Also in Thailand you can get the 640mml bottles which l haven’t found here.
    Two cold large bottles in a 2pack for 88 Baht, from a 7-11 store. That’s about £1, l think.

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