A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.


Posted date:  March 5, 2010

 Beerlao, Vientiane, Laos

Recently Global Post Thailand Correspondent Patrick Winn and I got the chance to visit the headquarters of the Lao Brewery Company (LBC), the brewers of Beerlao. For those not familiar with the brew, Beerlao is figuratively and literally the beer in Laos, commanding a staggering 99% market share. It’s often also generally considered the best beer in Southeast Asia; a lot like saying Chateau de Loei is the best winery in Thailand, although I must say that the brand’s Beerlao Dark is an unusual lager and a tasty beer by any standards.

The LBC brewery is located 12km from Vientiane at Tha Duea, and on weekdays from 10am onwards offers free brewery tours and tastings. So following a brief circuit of the brewery, and not long after breakfast, Patrick and I found ourselves conducting the following ‘research’:

Tasting beer inside the Beerlao factory outside Vientiane, Laos

Much of the rest of the day is a blur, so here follow some random facts about Beerlao and the Lao Brewery Company (LBC):

-The Lao Brewery Company dates back to 1973 and was originally a joint effort between French businessmen and the Lao government

Inside the Beerlao factory outside Vientiane, Laos
Inside the Lao Brewery Company, Vientiane, Laos

-After ‘liberation’ in 1975, the Lao Brewery Company was taken over by the government, which today retains half (the other half is owned by Denmark’s Carlsberg)

At the Lao Brewing Company outside Vientiane, Laos.
At the Lao Brewery Company outside Vientiane, Laos

-In 2008 the Lao Brewery Company produced 210 million litres of beer in its two breweries in Vientiane and Pakse

Inside the Beerlao factory outside Vientiane, Laos
Inside the Lao Brewery Company, Vientiane, Laos

-Beerlao is presently available in 10 countries around the world (although paradoxically it’s still relatively hard to find in Thailand)

Inside the Beerlao factory outside Vientiane, Laos
Inside the Lao Brewery Company, Vientiane, Laos

-Beerlao’s current brewmaster, Sivilay Lasachack, studied brewing in the then Czech Republic

Beerlao, Vientiane, Laos
Glasses of Beerlao at a restaurant in Vientiane, Laos

-Of the malt used to produce Beerlao, 70% is barley from Belgium and the remaining 30% is rice from Laos

At the Beerlao factory outside Vientiane, Laos
At the Lao Brewery Company, located outside Vientiane, Laos

-In 2009 the Lao Brewery Company introduced Beerlao Gold (pictured at the top of this post), using ‘sapphire aroma hops’ from Germany

Read more about Beerlao in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.

5 Comments for Beerlao

This is outstanding. How in the world I didn’t know about the factory tour is beyond me. Sounds like great fun in Vientiane when doing a visa run for Thailand.

My pick of the litter is Beerlao Dark. Such a sweet, malty beer — and utterly impossible to find outside of Laos.

Ha, I passed by the factory on my way to Buddha Park but didn’t get to go in. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

Why does Beerlao gold make me feel sleepy? hehe..

Thanks for admitting that while Beer Lao might be moderately better than most SE Asian lagers, it ain’t that great. It’s bizarre when I hear people rhapsodizing about BL, which is actually a watery, hopless lager like all the rest (bet 8 out of 10 couldn’t pick it blind from Sing, Leo or even Asahi). Dark is not bad though, if it’s really cold. Strong, too.

I’ll be drinking Leo – a bad beer by any measure – until I can find something decent in this neck of the woods. Sigh.

More or less agree with Jarrett here. Though, if in Laos, buying Beer Lao Dark for $1 is one of the cheapest price-to-decent beer ratios out there.

As for Beer Lao Gold, well, it’s noticeably better than the regular stuff… but only marginally so. A Beer Lao marketing guy said they attempted a super-charged high-percent Beer Lao, but decided to back off.

What remains is a Chang-esque 5.5 percent beer (called Lan Xang [million elephants] I think?) that’s not too impressive.

In any case, Beer Lao knows they have a cult favorite and they’re marketing as such… but that cool cachet will probably fade if it’s more widely available.

Wanna say something?