Touring Southeast Asia for seven months we were not expecting to find much craft beer around. But once in a while, usually in larger cities, we were able to get hold of a good pint of beer. There are passionate people out there helping their local craft beer scenes flourish. We want to highlight some of the best craft beer bars in South East Asia that we visited. 

Bangkok, Thailand – Chitbeer

Although homebrewing is illegal in Thailand, some are brave enough to follow their passion. That is the case of Chit, founder of Chitbeer, a microbrewery located on Ko Kret island on the outskirts of Bangkok. Chit also manages an underground brewing academy where he teaches young students how to brew beer and also entrepreneurial skills. His goal is to expand the craft beer movement in Thailand and ultimately force the government to reform the laws. 

A full day trip on its own, arriving to Ko Kret is not easy, but that is exactly why the place can exist away from it all. Open only during the week-ends, when we arrived in the early afternoon on Saturday the place was packed. A live band was playing, groups of friends sharing a good laugh, fresh beer in hand. The brewhouse consists mainly of an open terrace and bar area by the river. A wide range of styles was available on tap, from kölsch and saison to stouts, all brewed expertly onsite. Good enough the prices were a bit lower than those you can find in other craft beer bars in the city who import their beers from abroad and are heavily taxed. We quickly found a table to sit down, relax and enjoy watching the boats go by.

Vientiane, Laos – Corebeer Brewhouse & Le Patitoh

The most popular beer in the country is undoubtedly Beerlao, from the Lao Brewery Company. They produce a surprisingly ample range of beer styles. We especially appreciated the Beerlao IPA and Beerlao White & Dark Lager after a long day of sightseeing.

However, if you are looking for craft in Laos, then head to the capital, Vientiane. Laos is a sleepy country and Vientiane follows the same vibe. Yet, it boasts some great craft beer bars in Southeast Asia.  

First, stop by Corebeer Brewhouse which is located in an ample semi-open space not too far from the centre. They often host live music shows and events, including beer festivals and art exhibitions. On tap they offer their core line of brews plus some special editions if you are lucky. 

Also worth a mention is Le Patitoh, established as the first craft brewery in Laos. They specialize in European classics such as pilsners and wheat beers. You can try one of their beers in the garden of Le Patitoh café by the swimming pool.

Celebrating christmas in an empty brewpub @ Corebeer Brewhouse, Vientiane

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Hops Craft Beer Garden and many more!

Cambodia is the country where we found the highest number of venues with craft beer on the menu, evidence of the growing craft beer scene in the country, especially in Phnom Penh.

The popular Hops Craft Beer Garden extends to three distinct beer halls plus a large beer garden. They brew their beer following the German purity law using only water, hops, malt, wheat and yeast to produce their wheat beer, IPA and red stout. They mastered the German beer garden style with it’s welcoming vibe, drawing visitors to their large tables to spend a sunny afternoon and make new friends. Prost!

Awesome beer garden in the centre of Phnom Penh @ Hops Craft Beer Garden

We were in the city only for a couple days and didn’t have time to visit all the bars on our list, but they are surely worth a visit. Check out their websites for more info.

  • CRAFT Beer Garden By Cerevisia Brewery – a low-key outdoor taproom surrounded by lush plants and taps. 
  • Embargo Craft Beer Bar – offering a large selection of beers from different Cambodian craft breweries. 
  • Himawary Microbrewery – situated along the river and proposing 4 signature beers plus some seasonal rotating brews.
  • Riel Brewing Taproom – producing some of the best beers in the country which you can taste in their newly opened taproom. 
  • The Box Office – the bar offering one of the city’s largest selections of locally brewed beers and ciders.

Manifestly, the capital has a growing number of craft beer bars in Southeast Asia, making it an interesting city to spend some extra days to explore it’s craft beer scene.  

Cebu, Philippines – Turning Wheels Craft Brewery

We had to cut short our journey halfway through the Philippines due to the coronavirus, but we did manage to visit the pioneer craft brewer in Cebu: Turning Wheels

Located a little off the beaten track from the most popular districts in Cebu city, you can still easily find this craft brewery. The setup is fairly simple: coming in a large parking lot, then a pair of converted containers which make up the main structure – the bar and the brewery – with the “terrace” separating both consisting of different style tables and chairs. Nothing fancy nor pretentious, but this is exactly why we loved this place so much. The great beer also helps. Turning Wheels’ beers focuses on the American West Coast style of brewing, known for their citrusy favors. We tried the various styles on tap and without doubt side for their IPA and Double IPA.

Best craft brewery in the Philippines! @ Turning Wheels, Cebu