Think of Bangkok and think of exotic street food, the sights and sounds of tuk tuks jostling for position in dense traffic and the allure of some particularly colourful nightlife. But put aside that Alex Garland novel view of Asia’s 19th most populous city and allow us to open your eyes to a Bangkok we think you’re really going to love. A Bangkok where the beer is crafty and the venues are quirky.
1) Pinpoint the craft bars on a map. Craft is an excellent craft beer bar chain in the city with two venues, one in the Silom district, the other in Sukhumvit. Another great venue is BREW, also in the Sukhumvit district, and sells some excellent grub from the burger place next door straight to your table. If you’re willing to venture even further out of the city, there is a Mikkeller bar in Watthana, east of the centre and accessible by train.
2) Never walk anywhere. Taxis and tuk tuks are incredibly cheap and are a great experience to ride in. Just show your driver where you want to go on Google Maps so they can get context and you’ll be away. Walking to a bar through a maze of urban jungle that is essentially only really designed for vehicles is not particularly fun, or safe – trust us! Public transport is also decent and plentiful option.
3) Don’t be suckered into trying the cheap local beers. Chang and Singha are everywhere in Thailand – they are the two mainstream lagers and often available for a ridiculously cheap price. While they can be refreshing, we would advise not succumbing, no matter how thirsty you are or how ridiculously inexpensive they are available for – they are not worthy of your crafty pallet.
4) Stick to lighter, more refreshing beers. Bangkok is hot at the best of times and about as humid as you can imagine at the right time of year. Because of that, certain beer types don’t really stand up too well in these conditions (think stouts or porters). Instead, we preferred lighter IPAs or pale ales as something to keep us refreshed. However, each to their own – the options are there to have a wide range of different styles.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask. Bangkok may have some of the reputation that large cities can get of being, big, bad and dangerous, but generally Thais are very friendly people and more often than not are just happy that you are visiting (and spending money in) their country. Scams do happen, so normal vigilance is advised, but nine times out of ten, people just want to help.
6) Explore the region. While there are plenty of European and US craft beers available in the right venues, you should take the opportunity to try Asian craft in its home continent. Coedo of Japan, is one heavily stocked craft brewery that kicks the arse of the usual Thailand drinking fodder of wishy washy lagers. There’s also plenty of options from Australia and New Zealand that you see less commonly in other parts of the world.
Read more about a craft beer experience in Bangkok in our first issue.