Posts Tagged ‘thai’

Beer Review: Chang Beer

17 May, 2009

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.

Beer Review: Singha Lager Beer

8 May, 2008

NEXT up in my round-up of Asian beers is Singha Lager Beer.

Singha Lager Beer bottle

This large 630 millilitre bottle is from Tesco. I’ve not seen it sold in cans or smaller bottles, only ever in this gigantic quantity. Let’s hope that it’s a good beer then.

The bottle top has Singha’s dragon logo and the name of the brewer. Which, if I’m reading it correctly, is Boon Rawd Brewery Co. Ltd.

Singha Lager Beer bottle top

The neck of the label isn’t surrounded by a normal label. But rather that crinkly foil that sometimes gets used to add that ‘premium’ feel.

Singha Lager Beer neck foil

This neck foil keeps the attractive white and gold colour scheme. It has an impressive, if unintelligible symbol, and the words “Thai Beer”. That nails the origin then. This beer is from Thailand.

The main front label keep the same colour scheme. But it’s dominated by an enormous gold dragon.

Singha Lager Beer front label

Just under the Singha name are the words “Premium” and “Import”. Both of which are good, but “Import” is what stands out. That’s because both Asahi Super Dry and Cobra Extra Smooth weren’t. They were brewed here, not in Asia. And that’s something that makes Singha a little more special.

Under the huge gold dragon and pictures of hops, Singha describe that as a “Lager Beer”. And that this has been the “Original Thai Beer Since 1933″. Good stuff. An Asian beer with heritage behind it. The first so for on this round-up, in fact.

Underneath that, in rather smaller text is the name of the brewer; “Singha Corporation Co., Ltd.”. And the place of origin, which is apparently “Bangkok, Thailand”.

The back label is quite a lot smaller. And much more crowded than the front.

Singha Lager Beer back label

The ingredients are listed as “Water, Malt and Hops”. The amount of beer is listed in more ways than I’ve ever seen it listed before. It’s given as 63.0 cl, 630 ml, 0.630 l and 21.3 fl. oz. Has anyone here ever measured their drinks by fluid ounces? If that’s your thing, then you’ve got it listed on this bottle.

This bottle was imported by Entbe Ltd of Slough, England. If you want to write them a letter or give them a phone call, all of that information is on here. There’s also an email address listed, which is info@singhabeer.co.uk. I’ve not tried it, so if you do try emailing them, let me know in the comments section if you get a response from them.

The website address of www.singhabeer.com is printed on there. But if you’re British, you’d probably want to go to www.singhabeer.co.uk instead.

The brewing and bottling of this beer in Thailand is confirmed yet again on the back. And, hidden away for some reason is the alcoholic volume. Which at a respectable 5%, could be more prominent. Why not print it on the front label like everyone else?

When it came to pouring, I took a chance on my big, continental glass. And guess what? All 630 millilitres of it went in perfectly. None left over and no spillage.

Singha Lager Beer poured into a glass

The head looked promising at first. But sadly, it died down to become just a cluster of tiny bubbles on the surface.

The colour of the stuff looks about right for a lager. It looks fizzy, too. Hopefully it won’t be too gassy.

The smell is roughly what you’d expect from a lager. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual blend of malted barley and hops. All of which are hardly noticeable.

A couple of gulps in, and everything seems normal. In fact, there’s not much that makes this lager stand out at all. It has a faint bitterness and sour aftertaste from the hops. And not an awful lot more, in terms of flavour.

What else can I say about this lager? Well, it is refreshing. It’s a hot day here in London, and I’m glad to have a cool bottle of Singha Lager Beer to hand. Were I to visit Thailand, I’d happily buy a few bottles of this brew.

It’s not as gassy as I feared it might be. And for a lager, it does have a “premium” quality feel to it.

It’s also very easy to drink. With no flavours to offend the taste buds, it’s almost like drinking water. And therein lies my complaint. Although it’s a complaint that I level at all lagers. I like character, body and flavour, but that’s not what a lager is all about.

Singha Lager Beer is exactly that, a lager beer. It’s easy to drink, refreshing and fairly strong at 5%. Compared to other lagers, it’s not bad. But seeing this on the shelf next to bottles of beer and ale that are packed with flavour, this one couldn’t possibly get picked.

This is one of those straightforward, quality lagers that would go very well with a spicy meal. Or a trip to Thailand. On it’s own, it’s not as interesting as what else is on the crowded shop shelves. But in the right place, at the right time, it’s ideal.

Rating: 3.7

Have you tried Singha Lager Beer? What did you think of it?
Got any corrections, thoughts, ideas or suggestions? Then leave a comment!


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