The Upscale Hangout: Brew Beers & Ciders
One could say that Bangkok’s craft beer scene began in 2005 over the dinners of Chris Foo, son of Thailand’s biggest jewelry magnate, and a beer-loving Belgian CEO of a shipping company, who introduced Foo to Belgian beers through thoroughly explained food pairings. Eventually this led to Foo opening HOBS—House of Beers, now a franchise of fanciful Belgian beer gardens around the city—which Foo poured himself into, working 16-hour days, going from table to table explaining his products to his customers. Two years later, with a massive following and a nagging wish to explore beers other than Belgians, he sold HOBS and started a new venture, Brew Beers & Ciders, instead. With 450 beers, Brew offers the largest selection of beers in Asia, encompassing everything from seasonals and limited editions to specialty flavors—chocolate, ginger, honey—to Heinekins and Coronas, and his sales at the flagship Brew in Thonglor now triple the sales at all eight HOBS put together.
Brew, he claims, is now the most popular bar in Bangkok, and on weekends it gets so packed that you can’t see the floor. Set in the back of the ground floor of a dining souk in Thonglor (which is to Bangkok what Soho is to New York), the indoor bar is something of a pillbox designed to look like the back room of a brewery, with cases stacked up the walls and kegs lining the ceiling. But outside is full of big tables not far from the DJ booth where music spins nightly, and it’s meant to be a social space, so you won’t feel uncomfortable if you suddenly find yourself craving a beer and stop in alone. As for helping customers navigating the 450 options, Foo writes the menu’s explanations himself, and the staff members are walking encyclopedias. Nearly all of them have worked for Foo for four or more years now, and every time a new beer comes in, they sit together as a team, taste it, and discuss it before ever serving it to a customer. Three other Brews are located around the city, with others set to open in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (on the nightlife-heavy Club Street, no less) this year. Singapore and Australia are in the works as well.
251/1 Thonglor 13, Sukhumvit 55; 66-2/185-2366; Brew Beers & Ciders