Last year we undertook the first survey of the region’s craft breweries to help build a picture of what was happening in Southeast Asia – below’s what we found out was trending on beer styles from the perspective of the styles being brewed (not quantities)…
With strong North American influence on the global microbrewing industry it is not surprising to see hoppy IPA’s and Pale Ale’s dominate the ‘most brewed’ styles. What was surprising, however, is that Golden Ale are so far down the order. Most breweries, particularly if they are operating as brewpubs or have their own taproom will offer a Golden Ale style in place of a lager (as a good lager is hard to produce and also takes longer to ferment than a Golden Ale or Kölsch style beer).
Wheat beers (both Belgian Wit & German Weizen styles) are also popular, these are seen as milder beers favoured by those who do not like the hoppy bitterness of IPA’s. More often these days these beers will come with some sort of local fruit or herb addition to ‘localize’ them such as Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Passionfruit Wheat Ale (Vietnam) or Red Dot Brewhouse Lime Wheat (Singapore).
Traditional beer styles, as would be expected in a young market, dominate the ‘Top 10’. This trend is expected to remain for the foreseeable future until breweries have stabilized their businesses and the marketplace is ready to accept new variants.
Brewers in Southeast Asia are also experimenting with new styles as their skills improve and local palates develop their taste for beer. The hoppy, hazy New England IPA and the lighter Session IPA as well as sour beers are creeping into brewers repertoires – however it will be some time before these beers make it into the top four popular styles, if ever. These more extreme styles of beer are more brewers ‘passion projects’ as opposed to new core offerings, and Asian beer consumer are still relatively conservative drinkers who don’t wander too far from their flavour comfort zone.
Most brewers around the region are still focusing on their core range of beers with many still perfecting their recipes, the aim being to develop market share and recognition before any attempt to introducing a rotating selection of new flavours.