by Shayne Chammavanijakul
Beer is big in Asia—bigger than wine, no doubt about it. But is that simply because beer is more affordable than wine? Before the pandemic hit, I sat down with Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver to talk about this. He thinks there’s so much more to it.
Whenever I visit Bangkok, I’ve noticed that beer tends to be the drink of choice when people eat at shophouse diners. Is there a reason behind this?
In most of Asia, current forms of beer were introduced through some sort of colonialism. Obviously in Thailand, colonial powers were never actually in control—but if you look at the major Chinese breweries, [you’ll see that] a lot of them, like tsingtao, started off as part of a monastery. You see this often—there’ll be a monastery, there’ll be a post, wherever else, and then these things become promulgated throughout the culture as a result.
Now, people make their own choices over time, so I suppose that in most of China people may have chosen baijiu or something like that in the past, but now they might go for beer. But beer is the most widely-drunk alcoholic beverage—and because beer is almost infinite in its range of flavors, it is naturally a better culinary pairing-beverage.
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