Did you know that home-brewing is illegal in Thailand and comes with a maximum penalty of six months in jail? Brewing laws are also so prohibitive that it’s effectively illegal to brew beer on a small scale, plus it’s also illegal to sell it. Despite this, did you also know that there are possibly over 200 craft brewers in Thailand and a growing number of bars to drink craft beer in?
Best Of The World Thailand’s (Illegal) Craft Brewers It’s Good Chit Photo Gallery
Wichit “Chit” Saiklao is the man doing the most to challenge and change craft beer in Thailand. His Chit Beer (pronounced “Sheet”) is on a small island around 12 miles (20km) from the center of Bangkok and it requires at least three modes of transport to get there (219/266 Baan Suan Palm 11120 Pakkred, Nonthaburi). The bar alone is Beer Bucket List-worthy for its location on the river, but it’s more significant because of the restrictions Wichit faces, for how he’s standing up against the rules, fighting for better beer from small brewers, and for how he’s opened his brewery to teach prospective home-brewers and pro-brewers. The aim is to brew until the law changes and he’s recruiting many others to join his craft-beer crusade.
The great news looking forward is that Chit and a collective of brewers applied to open a communal brewpub. This was approved, giving Thai brewers a place to make beer in Thailand (the rules allow beers to be brewed abroad, imported back to Thailand, and then sold as Thai beer). This is a very significant development in changing the laws to make Thai craft beer viable.
And from all of this a genuine new beer scene is growing, with the emergence of new breweries and bars (there are even a couple of guys growing hops in Thailand). The hub is in Bangkok, where there are dozens of places to drink decent beer. Wishbeer Home Bar (1491 Sukhumvit Road, Sukhumvit Soi 67, Bangkok) is a cool beer hall with 22 taps and a bottle store next door. They have a good selection of Thai craft beers, plus lots of imports. Hair of the Dog (they have two bars)
has a lucky-for-Thais 13 taps with a nerdy range of imported beers and well-filled fridges. In Chiang Mai, be sure to check out Namtom’s House Bar (196/2 Chiang Mai-Lam Phun Road, Chiang Mai). It’s definitely an intriguing country to watch as beer develops there.
The craft beer list at Namtom’s House Bar in Chiang Mai.
LOCAL TIP: Mikkeller’s Michelin Star
Not content with dominating the Copenhagen beer scene (see post 160), Mikkeller has opened a bar in Bangkok, just a short 5-minute tuktuk ride from Wishbeer. Even better is the restaurant attached to the bar, imaginitively titled Upstairs at Mikkeller (26 Ekkamai Soi 10 Yaek 2, Ekkamai Road, Phra Khanong Nua, Bangkok). Here you can dine on a top-end, 10-course tasting menu paired with beer. The food is so good Upstairs earned a Michelin star in 2017.
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