On a steamy November evening in what some used to call ‘the Venice of the East’, we stumbled across a cosy craft beer bar that could have held it’s own in any London railway arch we know. Yolo Craft Beer Bar is located on Bangkok’s Pra Athit Road, along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is championing the cause of craft beer for international and domestic brewers alike.
Craft beer is a tricky industry in Thailand, mainly because independent brewing is actually illegal in the country, so the Thai brewers have to create their tipples outside of the country and then re-import them to stay on the right side of the law. This has not deterred those with the craft beer passion flowing through them, though. After chatting with the friendly folk at Yolo for a while, we were put onto Thai brewer Eleventh Fort Brewing Co’s Mosaic Liquid single hopped IPA. This punchy, hop-forward 7% brew was a delight that, in a blind taste test, would have stood up to anything brewed in Europe or the USA.
There was plenty more on offer here at Yolo besides ‘local’ brews – beers from neighbouring Asian countries such as Taiwan and Japan were standing proud alongside familiar faces from the USA, England, Denmark and others. Like many things in Bangkok, the fridges and taps in Yolo represent a rich and diverse meting pot of cultures, traditions and tastes.
If you’re in Bangkok, you can easily find Yolo, as it’s right beside the Phra Sumen Fort, a historic landmark built back in the 1700s, within the slowly gentrifying Chana Songkhram region of the city. If you do only live once, then make sure at least half an hour of that life brings you here.