Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog April 22nd, 2012

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Thai Beer But Were Too Drunk To Ask

Thais began enjoying the taste of real beer (or at least pretending to) in 1934, when Hans Von Piffle-Pilsner started the first brewery on a klong in Nonthaburi. Piffle-Pilsner was actually trying to manufacture liquid fertilizer from elephant dung, but the Thais took his product to be a European beverage instead. The name of that beer is lost in the mists of alcoholic memory, but since then the brewing of beer has become big business in Thailand, and today the tourist from Amsterdam or Sydney can savor a professionally brewed lager anywhere in Thailand. It comes in cans, bottles, kegs, and towers (but it always leaves the same way . . .)

Of course the Thais have been brewing rice beer in their remote villages for centuries. The recipe is simple; two parts water to one part rice, add a pound of sugar, let sit in the sun for ten days, and then drink. It takes only a pint of this stuff before you start seeing white elephants. After drinking a quart of this stuff you think you ARE a white elephant and head for the Royal Palace in Bangkok.

As an ESL teacher in Thailand, you will, of course, want to investigate the culture of the Thais, and since they guzzle a lot of beer, you should become familiar with the different national brands of the country. The following list was compiled by friends and colleagues of mine in the hopes of enlightening the teetotaler as well as the tosspot. Here’s mud in your eye:

• Singha. This is a lager style beer, made from hops, barley, dishwater and a touch of Bristol cream. It should be served ice cold, with ham sandwiches and paid up life insurance policies. It comes in a brown bottle or white aluminum can, and those that drink it regularly say it tastes like Lady Gaga sings. The Singha company promotes a soccer team named The Blastonberry Blatherers in Bangkok, and their mascot is the Singha Lion, which entertains at half-time by telling long, pointless stories and offering to fight anyone who doesn’t like the color green. In past years the mascot has been played by mystery celebrities, like Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber — the mystery being how they got to be celebrities in the first place. This year (2012) the Singha Lion is being played by Margaret Thatcher.

• Chang. Old expats like to say that they used to put formaldehyde in Chang beer to keep it fresh, since ice, until recently, was a rare luxury. Whether you believe them or not, it is certainly easy to get embalmed with this brand of beer. It is made with hips, hops, hopes, and hoops, with distilled water, and filtered through layers of bougainvillea pollen. Each batch is taste tested by monkeys, who are thrown into the vat and allowed to swim freely for an hour. If none of them drown the batch is declared “Premium” and reserved for holidays. If only two or three monkeys die in the vat, the batch is labeled “What the Hell” and bottled quickly for sale throughout Thailand. It has a bouquet that reminds some people of a sunrise in Cleveland, Ohio.

• Leo. This brand is known around Thailand as “the breakfast beer”, for no other reason than that when poured over Rice Krispies it not only makes them go ‘snap, crackle and pop’ but also produces an ear-splitting Swiss yodel. Leo is unique among Thai beers because it does not use any hops; instead it gets a malty, yeasty flavor from roasted gravel. Leo beer is the official beer of the Thai Jute industry, which supplies 90% of all twine world-wide; their slogan is “Tie One On with Leo”. Recent studies indicate that Leo beer contains resins that help prevent osmosis of the sphincter. Some hospitals are now using Leo to disinfect their operating rooms, as well as unclogging drains. Leo has fewer calories than the other major Thai brands, mostly because it contains so much carbon dioxide that most bottles turn completely into foam when opened. To prevent this, beer aficionados will usually serve Leo at room temperature – they won’t drink it themselves, they’ll just serve it that way.

• Phuket (pronounced “puke it”). This is a new product from the Boombadeeboomdeeay Brewery. Using a secret formula that combines old style German brewing with the game of ‘tagraw’, the brewing company claims that Phuket beer is so smooth it can be fed to silk worms or wall geckos without harming them. It is also quite high in alcoholic content, so many auto drivers carry a six pack with them in case they run out of gas. This new brand has not caught on in the north or northeast of Thailand yet, but is very popular in Bangkok nightspots that cater to the ever-growing Tickle Me Elmo collectors expat community. Some people have called its taste ‘raw’, but most of those people are dead now anyways, so who cares?



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