The Great Thai Beer Tasting

You’re hanging out on the beach after sending some awesome routes and the sun is beating down on you. Nothing sounds better right now than an ice cold beer. But which beer do you choose? Have no fear, RollGlobal has undertaken rigorous research to bring you scientific data on the best beers in Thailand.


You can get foreign beers in Thailand but they are really expensive and not much better than the Thai beers. As a side note it appears that Heineken is the most distributed beer in the world, too bad that fact doesn’t make it taste any better than the local stuff. There are 6 main Thai beer brands available in most places. They are Singha, Singha Light, Chang, Leo, Archa, and Cheers. We also tried Siam Sato, which we mistook for beer, but we quickly learned it is really cheap (and terrible) rice wine. On the price scale Cheers is most expensive, followed by Singha and the others all come in about the same.


Thai beers generally come in 330ml or 640ml sizes. This is where decision time comes in: you know more than one beer is in your future so do you buy the big beer so you can save a little money and make fewer trips to the beer vendor or do you buy the small beer so you can enjoy your beers cold? Personally we opted for the latter because we found out from experience that warm Thai beer is terrible. But when you know what you’re getting yourself into before you choose, you can maximize your drinking experience.

And now for the taste test. As with any scientific process you first need to gather materials. For this we headed to our local 7-11. We picked up one of each beer and were thoughtfully given straws with each can. We tried each beer both cold and warm because there is no way to avoid a few swigs of warm beer while on Ton Sai and some (I’m looking at you, Chang) taste considerably worse than others. Our good friend Kevin weighed in on the beer rating. We intended to judge based on color, mouth feel, alcohol content, and taste (both warm and cold). But they are all the same color and mouth feel is kind of irrelevant especially after tasting a few. So here are some notes we took about them. Read on to find out the winner of the great Thai beer tasting.


“The Original Thai Beer;” 5% ABV; $0.95; Mascot – Lion

Kyle: Tastes bland, but isn’t so bad you can actually taste some malty sweetness.

Briana: Good clarity, nice head retention, why have we been drinking Chang for months?

Kevin: I don’t know what you call it but it’s about as good as miller light, which is not.

Singha Light

“The light of your life; smooth, cool and refreshing;” 3.5%ABV; $0.90; Mascot – also the lion

Kyle: This has even less flavor, if that’s possible.

Briana: Surprisingly water-like.

Kevin: I call that being more smooth, but why would they make a beer with less alcohol and expect people to buy it?


“Full flavored lager;” 6.4% ABV; $0.75; Mascot – Elephant

Kyle: Terrible mouth feel.

Briana: Initial alcohol flavor with water-like aftertaste. This is kind of flat, how does that even happen?

Kevin: Tastes like metal


“Smooth and Great Taste;” 5% ABV; $0.75; Mascot – Leopard

Kyle: Kind of sweet but otherwise no taste.

Briana: This is just like PBR, which is not that bad and totally drinkable.

Kevin: I could drink this, but I got an Asahi why don’t we just drink that and skip the rest?


“Finest Quality Lager;” 5.4% ABV;$0.75; Mascot – Horse

Kyle: This is kind of more flavorful than Leo but not as much flavor as Chang.

Briana: I think by flavor you mean alcohol taste.

Kevin: I can’t even tell anymore they all taste the same.

Cheers Beer

“Gold medal quality beer;” 5% ABV; $1.10; Mascot – Past awards

Kyle: This is pretty smooth.

Briana: Yeah, smoother, rounder, soft finish. Too bad it’s expensive.

Kevin: I think you’re just giving into the clever marketing. Seeing as how it says smooth on the can.

Siam Sato

“Something in Thai that likely says that it’s is not actually beer;” 8% ABV; $0.44; Mascot – Person in traditional dress

Kyle: Whoa people actually drink that stuff?

Briana: It’s not that bad [takes another sip and gags]. Wow this just keeps getting worse.

Kevin: This tastes like gasoline mixed with sugar. There is no way I’m drinking that warm.

The Warm Tasting


Kyle: Well it’s drinkable. I wouldn’t want to drink a full can of it warm, but a couple sips are manageable.

Briana: [Shudders]

Kevin: Yeah that’s gross.

Singha Light

Kyle: This tastes just like warm Singha

Briana: Yeah I taste no difference between warm Singha and Singha Light.

Kevin: Do we seriously have to keep tasting these?


Kyle: This tastes more like alcohol.

Briana: This is practically undrinkable.

Kevin: Yeah, kind of like Siam Sato.


Kyle: So far this is the most drinkable warm, but I could be too drunk to tell.

Briana: This tastes the same warm as it does cold, just like PBR.

Kevin: Can I poor the next round because I think you gave me too much?


Kyle: Way to give yourself the least amount Kevin, are you even going to try this one?

Kevin: Well you guys wanted to do the warm tasting.

Briana: Wow, super skunky.

Cheers Beer

Kyle: Man, we still have one more left at least it’s still better than warm Chang.

Kevin: I nominate you to finish that I’m going for a cold one.

Briana: We’re all in this together, there’s not that much, take one for the team.

Siam Sato

Kyle: We still have the Siam Sato what should we do with it?

Kevin: The only thing that is good for is removing paint.

Briana: [Tastes a little bit more] Ok, fine, pour it down the toilet.



With the highest alcohol content we can see why Chang is popular, but just make sure you don’t get caught with it warm. In the end the consensus was that while Cheers Beers tasted the best Leo was by far the best beer for your Baht. Now if I could only find some place to purchase matching his and hers Leo tank tops…

8 Responses to “The Great Thai Beer Tasting”

  1. Victoria said:

    Thank you for this. The commentary was super entertaining. So is a rice wine tasting next on the list? I mean you just raved about the Siam Sato. I’d like to hear more. Glad to see y’all got together before Kevin came back to the states.

    April 28th, 2010 at 10:51 am

  2. Kate C said:

    Awesome! I think we drank more Chang because it seemed to be the beer of choice to give away free (ie, on snorkeling boats and after elephant rides). But Mark definitely preferred Shingha. Did you decide on a pronunciation for that one? I’ve heard it “Sing-Ha” and “Singa” and even “Sing.”

    April 28th, 2010 at 10:58 am

  3. Mark said:

    “why would they make a beer with less alcohol and expect people to buy it?” – Do they have Mormons in Thailand?

    April 28th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

  4. Briana said:

    Kate, Singha is indeed pronounced “sing” or at least that’s what we figured after our time in Bangkok.

    April 28th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

  5. Meredith H said:

    This is information I’ll be needing! Thank you!

    May 2nd, 2010 at 10:11 am

  6. choi said:

    Thanks for your test tasting of thai beer, found it very helpful as am getting married in ko sumui feb 2013. needed to order a few cases of beer for my guests. now i know which type of beer to order.
    thanks choi

    June 28th, 2012 at 6:46 am

  7. tony said:

    siamsato ugh. that stuff rots your guts. i mistaken it for beer too, drank the whole bottle because i was too drunk to notice, the next day i died a little.

    September 28th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  8. James \ said:

    Well…after a long day at school and 2 final exams, I was more than ready for some icy cold beers. I stopped in my nearby 7-11 where I grabbed 2 large bottles of Leo.Then I noticed this stuff called Siamsato. Looked like beer to me, so I read the label and what I could make out was 8.0% alcohol, the name ‘SatoSiam’ in Thai and the word “rice” in the ingredients.
    It was far more expensive than the Leo, and I thought, “Well, it’s more expensive, but that’s because it’s 8% alcohol!! How bad can it be? It’s rice beer, so it probably tastes like Bud Light” The gal at the checkout counter couldn’t tell me anything about it when I asked, apparently because she was about 16 years old and didn’t drink.
    I got home, popped that fucker and took a HUGE swig. Then, because I couldn’t stomach this shit that had been posing as beer, I nearly painted my kitchen with it, straight from my stomach. Like you guys, I put it in the best place I saw fit – down the toilet it went. A 62 baht lesson I will never forget.
    Leo is still my ‘go-to’ cheap beer. Now & then I will grab some Singha for a change of taste. I refuse to buy imported beer here. I’d rather my $$ go to a Thai brewer.
    Cheers for your great comparison story!!
    -James in BKK.

    May 8th, 2015 at 9:20 am

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