“This Leo is going to taste so good,” I say to my midnight dinner companion. Refreshing and palate cleansing would have been a better description of the beer in question. It’s Friday night, sometime past midnight and I find myself at a Thai-Chinese restaurant in Yaowarat. In front of me sit a couple of salty, pork heavy, stir-fries and an ice-cold Leo which serve as drunk food slash palate cleansers. They are much needed after consuming copious amounts of Thai craft beer.
Last weekend the first ever Thai craft beer competition took place. The first round of judging happened on Friday at Let The Boy Die.Round number two, as well as announcing the winners, was organized on Saturday at Cho Why.
The 1st Siamese Craft Beer Competition consisted of six categories: India pale ale, pale ale, amber ale, wheat beer, stouts and an open category. The judges were friends, beer enthusiasts, a certified beer judge from Singapore and local restaurateurs among others. Important names from the local beer scene, be it foreign or Thai beer, were supporting, judging and organizing the event.
I was fortunate enough to be offered a judging seat as well, and so I found myself analyzing several wheat beers on Friday. After the judging, the leftover samples were opened for all to enjoy which quickly led to moral decay and a blurring of values among the judges. Some beers were good; others missed the mark. The worst beers tasted like chlorine and coffee grounds but with over a hundred beers entered that was to be expected. There were some remarkably good beers as well.
Although the judging sessions themselves were closed, the award ceremony, if you may call it that, was free for anyone to attend. The winners were supposed to be announced at three pm. However, the judging session started late, and the crowd had to wait till five. This didn’t seem to bother anyone as there was plenty of beer to be drunk and talks to be talked during the waiting time.
When the judging had finally finished, the winners were announced. 72 Brewing won the open category. Cup G got first place in IPA’s. Sandport had the best wheat beer and Devanom the best pale Ale. Last but not least, Decsnob took home first prize in amber ales and stouts.
Considering this whole scene is barely four years old, barely legal and without easy access to quality ingredients, it’s more than fair to say that the Thai brewers have made great progress. This being the first Thai craft beer competition, more competitions are sure to follow, an incentive for the brewers to come up with even better beer. With all odds stacked against it, the tortoise keeps climbing Mount Everest.