Walk into any bar in Brooklyn, and chances are, you won’t see too many big-name beers. Of course there may be a Budweiser, Heineken, or Guinness on tap, but likely flanking those handles are ones from Brooklyn Brewery, Sierra Nevada, and Dogfish. Craft beer has been skyrocketing as the latest drinking craze, and while America is undoubtedly its home as France is wine’s, the scene is creeping across the Pacific to Asia as well. Over the past few years, Bangkok has been emerging as its biggest foothold in the region, with a growing group of entrepreneurs intent on educating the market and developing a love for craft beers.
The Invisible Hands: Beervana
Aaron Grieser and Brian Bartusch, founders of beer importing and distributing company Beervana, are the types of guys that when they walk into a room, it suddenly becomes the most exciting place to be. Get them talking about beer, and you’ll forget anywhere else even exists. Both originally from the U.S., the two guys began Beervana as a passion project, as a way to the drink beers they loved at home while living abroad. They know everything there is to know about the drink, from the official rules of what craft beer actually is—beer made by an independent owner out of traditional, non-artificial ingredients with production rates that don’t exceed six million barrels per year—to the local Thai market for it, which prefers family-style sharing of bottles rather than the more American, to-each-their-own way. In order to preserve the quality of their imports, they created a special “cold chain” where the beer is kept at its optimal four-degrees-Celsius temperature the entire trip from its brewery to its boat shipment to its warehouse storage to its truck to its customers, which include individuals via home-delivery as well as 120 restaurants and bars within Bangkok and 80 elsewhere in Thailand.
Their only requirement for the places they choose to supply is that they have a passion for beer, with one such place being Roadhouse Saloon, a barbecue joint tucked within the Glow Trinity Silom hotel. On a wall behind the billiards, Grieser and Bartusch recently painted a huge mural map of the United States with brewery logos geographically marking where the beers the Saloon sells come from, a sort of guerilla form of beer education. They view the Thai market as a “beer frontier” with a potential 18 million new drinkers, based on the prime beer-drinking demographic of middle-class people ages 20–45. As for their own favorite beers, there’s the Nøgne Ø Tindved, a beer brewed from Brett (short for Brettanomyces) yeast, which Bartusch describes as adding earthy notes of “blue cheese and horse-blanket” to the flavor. There’s also Nøgne Ø’s Aurora Australis, rated as being a perfect beer, the only of its kind in the world created by a complex aquavit method involving rocking in oak barrels on cargo ships that expand and contract as the temperature changes; it tastes of sea buckthorn berries. And lastly, there’s the Kagua Blanc and Kagua Rouge, Bartusch’s favorites, brewed with yuzu and sansho peppers respectively.
For more information, visit Beervana.