Published on August 6th, 2014 | by Tayla Gentle


How to drink beer and eat food in south East Asia

Read time: a bit over 3 minutes

Some people reckon all beers match all foods. We reckon those people are delinquents. Take beer and minestrone soup for example, now that’s a questionable match. Beer and cupcakes: disgusting. Beer and fondue: disaster.

Whether you fancy a draft, cold one, oat soda, cerveza, barley pop, Homer Juice, liquid bread, hops scotch or un-water, get your boozy mind out of the gutter and start matching your brews like a grown up.

To get you on your hops-loving way, we’ve compiled this nifty little guide to pairing South East Asia’s best beer with South East Asia’s best grub. Because a) the smart drinker always lines their belly and b) beer just tastes better in paradise.

Thailand: Singha & Prawn Tom Yum

The Thai people make their silly seltzer just a touch on the sweet side. They also prepare their foodstuffs with extra chilli, so beware the packed heat in your curry/stir fry/morning eggs (true story). The best way to counteract the flavour fire is (surprisingly) not by drinking copious amounts of water, but by following each sweat-inducing mouthful with a long chug of the golden stuff.

The ultimate Thai combo involves a frosty Singha to complement that spicy prawn tom yum you’re slurping on. Made from 100% barley malt, this is a clean, crisp, Pilsener-style brew that finishes on just a hint of sweet corn. Perfect for cutting through the heat and pairing with the seafood hiding under your noodles.

Laos: Beer Lao & Larb Gai

Time Magazine titled it ‘Asia’s best beer’, the Bangkok Post named it the ‘Dom Perignon of Asia’ and at Geckos we like to call it ‘The King of Laos’. Made from indigenous rice varieties, German hops and French malted barley, Beer Lao boasts a super low hangover rate and just a hint of marzipan. Going strong since 1973, this brewski powerhouse has held a mutually beneficial partnership with Carlsberg for over four decades.

You know what else would be a mutually beneficial partnership? Beer Lao and Larb Gai. So next time you’re struggling through that chopped chicken salad stuffed with an exorbitant amount of chilli, grab an icy Lao-Lao to help wash it down. Clean palates all round, my friends.

Cambodia: Angkor & Sach Ko Loc Lac

The Khmer don’t mind the odd tipple, in fact, they even have cave drawings depicting drunken fellas sleeping off their rice beer hangovers. That’s probably why Angkor is available at every corner store, hawker stall and dingy restaurant. Do yourself a favour and chow down on a Khmer specialty with this particular libation. Number one on the list of is a plate of fresh Sach Ko Loc Lac (spicy beef salad).

The tangy vinaigrette of the salad will pair well with the lager’s light maltiness. Yep, maltiness. However, excessive enjoyment could lead to missed buses and an aversion to morning sunlight, so consume in moderation.

Vietnam: Bia Huda & Deep Fried Spring Rolls

Let’s get this very straight. We are talking about DEEP FRIED spring rolls here. Don’t give us any of that healthy rice paper and herbs craziness. What you really need is the perfect level of greasiness to get the most out of this crisp lager. Hailing from Hue, Bia Huda is a drink with a ‘small head and malty nose’ – whatever that means.

What we’ve found is if you drink it really, really cold and pair it with the most gluttonous of regional delicacies, it’s a match made in Viet-heaven.

Indonesia: Bintang & Gado gado

Many of you will be familiar with Bintang. Perhaps you have a mate who wears his singlet to the pub or you date a girl who dons a Bintang t-shirt to bed. But how many of you knew it was actually Indonesia’s national beer brand? Manufactured under a partnership with Heineken, those who love them a little Dutch will likely enjoy this pale lager. Golden in colour and super carbonated, the cheeky Bintang goes down very easy in the tropical heat. Almost too easy, if you catch our drift.

That’s why you should alternate sips with bites of gado-gado. The tamarind, peanuts and prawn paste flavours will come together with the hops and malt to form the perfect taste bud explosion. You’ll definitely want this in your mouth.

Ready to eat the eats and drink the drinks? Jump on a small group adventure to Asia with Geckos.

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About the Author

A sucker for air fare sales to Asia and a good story, I've eaten my body weight in Philippine chicken, trekked the highlands of Myanmar and practiced with a very legit yogi in India. He could stand on his head for three hours. I once got lost in a rainforest in El Salvador and found myself eating burritos with a corn farmer. To me, travel means bantering with tuk tuk/moto/jeepeney drivers, mosquito bites and coconuts. But never socks and sandals, not when travelling, not ever.

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