What beer goes well with Thai foods?

Best Beer with Thai Food: Perfect Pairings for a Feast

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When I was a carefree and adventurous nineteen-year-old, I travelled around Thailand. I got very accustomed to the local cuisine and, most certainly, the local booze. Thai food is wonderful, from the classic dish of Pad Thai to the gorgeous curries deep with flavour. Thai beers are equally delightful, from Singha, the official beer of Thailand, to Chang, which Evertonians proudly wore. But what is the best beer with Thai food? This post explores several beer types that will elevate your Thai Food, explaining why they work and even suggesting a specific tipple. 

A Bit About The Thai Cuisine

About 3% of Brits pick Thai food as their favourite takeaway option, which is blasphemous. Thai food is renowned for its use of fresh herbs, bold spices, and a delicious blend of flavours. Common ingredients include lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chilli, fish sauce, and coconut milk. Dishes often combine textures and tastes, resulting in one of my favourite choices.

Best beer with Thai Food
Thai Food, Glorious, Thai Food!

Best Beer with Thai Food

Without further ado, let’s explore the four best types of beer to have when tucking into a Thai meal. Whether you’re standing on the streets of Bangkok or sitting in a fancy Thai restaurant in central London, these beers will sort you out! 

Lagers: Light and Crisp Qualities

Lagers are often a go-to choice when pairing beer with Thai food. Their light and crisp qualities make them an excellent match for various Thai dishes, especially those that aren’t too heavy on the spice. 

Why Lagers Work

Lagers are typically light in body with a clean, refreshing finish. This makes them perfect for cutting through the richness of Thai dishes without overwhelming the delicate flavours. Their moderate fizziness helps cleanse the palate, and a lager’s subtle malt sweetness can complement the mild sweetness in many Thai recipes.

Best Dishes to Pair with Lagers

1. Pad Thai

Why lager works: The tangy tamarind, peanuts, and mild spice in Pad Thai pair beautifully with the crisp, clean flavour of a lager. The beer’s carbonation helps to refresh the palate, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Suggested lager: Singha, a famous Thai lager, is a fantastic choice. It’s brewed to pair perfectly with local cuisine.

Is Singha or Chang better?
Time for a Singha-ling

2. Spring Rolls

Why lager works: Spring rolls, often filled with vegetables and sometimes shrimp or pork, are light and fresh, and they match well with the gentle flavour of a lager. The beer’s refreshing qualities complement the roll’s ingredients without overpowering them.

Suggested lager: Try a classic pilsner like Pilsner Urquell, which offers a slight bitterness that can enhance the flavours of the dipping sauce.

3. Chicken Satay

Why lager works: Dishes like chicken satay, which are flavorful but not overly spicy, benefit from the balanced taste of a lager. The beer’s crispness can enhance the subtle flavours of these dishes. 

Suggested lager: A Munich Helles lager, such as Weihenstephaner Original, offers a smooth and slightly malty profile that pairs well with these milder options.

Lagers are a versatile and crowd-pleasing choice when enjoying Thai cuisine. Their light, crisp qualities can enhance various dishes, from the zesty and savoury Pad Thai to fresh and vibrant spring rolls. So next time you’re enjoying your favourite Thai meal, grab a lager and see how well it complements the flavours on your plate. 

Wheat Beer: Refreshing and Versatile

Wheat beers are also a fantastic choice when pairing beer with Thai food. Their refreshing and slightly fruity qualities make them an excellent match for various Thai dishes, especially those with many herbs and spices.

Why Wheat Beers Work

Wheat beers are typically light to medium-bodied with a crisp, refreshing finish and often have hints of citrus and spice. This makes them perfect for complementing the bold flavours and herbs commonly found in Thai cuisine. Wheat beers’ fizziness helps cleanse the palate, and the subtle fruitiness of a wheat beer can also enhance the flavours of many Thai dishes.

Best Dishes to Pair with Wheat Beers

1. Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

Why wheat beer works: Wheat beer’s citrusyness (is that a word?) enhances Som Tum’s bright, zesty flavours, and the beer’s bubbles help balance the salad’s spiciness and acidity.

Suggested wheat beer: Hoegaarden beautifully complements the fresh ingredients with its light body and hints of orange peel and coriander.

2. Pad Krapow (Basil Chicken)

Why wheat beer works: Pad Krapow’s herbal and slightly spicy nature pairs well with the subtle spice and fruity notes of a wheat beer. 

Suggested wheat beer: Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, known for its balanced flavour profile and slight banana and clove notes, is an excellent choice.

3. Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Soup)

Why wheat beer works: A wheat beer’s light and refreshing nature enhances the creamy, aromatic qualities of Tom Kha Gai. The beer’s slight sweetness balances the soup’s richness, while the citrus notes complement the lime and lemongrass.

Suggested wheat beer: Allagash White, with its hints of coriander and citrus, pairs perfectly with the soup’s complex flavours.

Wheat beers are a versatile and delightful choice when enjoying Thai cuisine. Their refreshing and slightly fruity qualities can enhance various dishes, from the tangy and vibrant Som Tum to the creamy Tom Kha Gai. 

IPA: Bold and Aromatic

IPAs are a superb choice when pairing beer with Thai food. Their bold hop flavours and aromatic profiles complement the complexity of Thai cuisine, particularly dishes with intense spices and rich sauces.

Why IPAs Work

IPAs are known for their strong hop character, including pine, citrus, and tropical fruit notes. Their bitterness can cut through rich, spicy dishes, while their aromatic qualities can enhance the intricate flavours of Thai ingredients. The robust nature of an IPA makes it an ideal partner for the vibrant and varied tastes found in Thai cooking.

Best Dishes to Pair with IPAs

1. Green Curry (Gaeng Keow Wan)

Why IPA works: Green curry’s bold, spicy nature pairs well with an IPA’s strong hop bitterness. The beer’s tropical fruit notes can also complement the curry’s coconut milk and fresh herbs.

Suggested IPA: BrewDog’s Punk IPA, known for its tropical and citrus hop profile, enhances the green curry’s complex flavours.

2. Massaman Curry

Why IPA works: The richness and spiciness of Massaman curry are balanced by the bitterness of an IPA. The beer’s aromatic qualities can bring out the cinnamon and cardamom notes in the curry.

Suggested IPA: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, with its bold hop character and piney notes, matches Massaman curry’s deep flavours.

3. Thai Fish Cakes (Tod Mun Pla)

Why IPA works: The hop bitterness of an IPA contrasts with the fish cakes’ sweet chilli sauce, while the beer’s citrus notes enhance the kaffir lime leaves and herbs.

Suggested IPA: Goose Island IPA, with its balanced hop bitterness and subtle citrus flavours, pairs well with the fragrant fish cakes.

IPAs offer a bold pairing option for Thai cuisine. Their strong hop character and complex flavours can enhance various dishes, from sweet chilli sauce to the rich and spicy Massaman curry.

Saison: Earthy and Complex

Saison beers are an excellent choice when pairing beer with Thai food. Their earthy and slightly spicy characteristics make them a wonderful match for Thai cuisine’s vibrant and aromatic flavours.

Why Saisons Work

Saison beers are typically medium-bodied with a dry finish and often have complex fruit, spice, and earthiness notes. This makes them perfect for complementing Thai dishes’ intricate and layered flavours. 

What on Earth is a Saison?

Best Dishes to Pair with Saisons

1. Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad) 

Why Saison works: Saisons’ peppery and slightly fruity notes complement Som Tum’s vibrant and zesty flavours. The beer’s dry finish and bubbles balance the salad’s spiciness and acidity.

Suggested Saison: Saison Dupont, with its hints of pepper, citrus, and earthy undertones, beautifully enhances the fresh and spicy ingredients.

2. Pad Krapow (Basil Chicken) 

Why Saison works: Pad Krapow’s herbal and spicy nature pairs well with the earthy and spicy notes of a Saison. The beer’s complexity complements the dish’s bold flavours.

Suggested Saison: Prairie Artisan Ales’ Standard, known for its subtle fruit and spice notes, is an excellent choice to balance the dish’s heat and herbs.

3. Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup) 

Why Saison works: A Saison’s dryness and effervescence enhance the aromatic and spicy qualities of Tom Yum Goong. The beer’s fruity and spicy notes complement the soup’s lemongrass, lime, and chilli.

Suggested Saison: Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, with its citrusy and peppery flavours, pairs perfectly with the soup’s complex, spicy, and tangy elements.

Saisons are a versatile and delightful choice when enjoying Thai cuisine. Their earthy, fruity, and slightly spicy qualities can enhance a range of dishes, from the tangy and vibrant Som Tum to the spicy Tom Yum Goong.

The Best Beers in Thailand: 8 Must-Tries!

I can attest to the fact that backpackers love cheap beer. Thailand offers plenty of options, although the taste might not always match that of German or Belgian brews. Still, it’s worth exploring. Here are some of the best and most popular beer brands in Thailand.

  • Singha 5% (Boon Rawd Brewery): This pale lager is slightly sweet with a distinct malty flavour and a hint of bitterness. Lightly hopped, Singha goes down smooth and is enjoyed chilled.
  • Chang 5% (ThaiBev): A full-bodied lager with a crisp, refreshing taste, Chang offers a stronger flavour compared to other Thai beers. 
  • Leo 5% (Boon Rawd Brewery): Known for its smooth and balanced flavour, Leo is a lighter lager with a mild taste. It’s easy to drink and refreshing, making it a popular choice for casual drinking.
  • Archa 5% (ThaiBev): This light lager offers a mild taste with less bitterness, making it an affordable and popular option for casual drinkers. Its smooth profile is perfect for relaxing on a hot day.
  • Phuket Lager 5% (Phuket Beer Thailand): Named after the famous island, this premium lager has a smooth, slightly sweet taste. Brewed with German hops and Thai jasmine rice, it provides a unique and refreshing drinking experience.
  • Cheers Beer 5% (Thai Asia Pacific Brewery): A relatively new entrant, Cheers Beer is known for its light, easy-to-drink profile. With slightly higher carbonation, it offers a refreshing and crisp taste.
  • Federbräu 5% (ThaiBev): Inspired by German brewing traditions, Federbräu has a clean, crisp taste with a hint of malt sweetness. This premium beer is well-regarded for its smooth finish and balanced flavour.
  • Chalawan Pale Ale 4.7% (Full Moon Brewworks): This craft pale ale features a balanced profile with notes of tropical fruits and a hint of citrus. Lightly hopped, it provides a refreshing and smooth drinking experience.

Summary 

Pairing beer with Thai food enhances the dining experience. Lagers, like Singha and Pilsner Urquell, are light and crisp, perfect for dishes like Pad Thai, spring rolls, and chicken satay. Wheat beers, such as Hoegaarden and Allagash White, complement the bold flavours of Som Tum, Pad Krapow, and Tom Kha Gai with their refreshing and fruity qualities. IPAs like BrewDog Punk IPA and Sierra Nevada Torpedo match well with rich, spicy dishes like green curry and Massaman curry. Saisons, including Saison Dupont and Boulevard Tank 7, enhance the complexity of Thai dishes like Som Tum and Tom Yum Goong with their earthy and spicy notes. 

FAQs

What is the most popular beer in Thailand?

The most popular beer in Thailand is Singha. Brewed by Boon Rawd Brewery, Singha is a pale lager known for its slightly sweet, malty flavour with a hint of bitterness. 

Which is better, Chang or Singha?

Choosing between Chang and Singha depends on personal preference. Singha is lighter, slightly sweet, and more malty, ideal for a smooth, easy-drinking experience. Chang is fuller-bodied with a crisper, more robust taste. Both are popular in Thailand, so try each to see which suits your palate best.


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