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Alcohol in Asia

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Alcohol in Asia

Post by Cornfed » October 4th, 2012, 3:10 am

Sorry if this has been done before, but I wonder if we could list the most common types of alcohol in Asia, particularly the cheap stuff. Most Asian countries seem to have one or two brands of cheap alcohol to pacify the masses.

In Korea the main one is of course soju, which is a vile rice & potato spirit sold in 375ml bottles @ 20% alcohol. Despite the taste, the price of >$1 a bottle is hard to argue with. Korean beer is about the same price as in the West and tastes like swill. You would think people who drink as much as the Koreans would make better tasting alcohol. However, I guess Cass Red @ 6.9% alcohol would be the best bang for your buck if you were determined to drink beer. Makkoli is probably the only reasonably pleasant tasting Korean alcoholic drink but, as a syrupy rice wine is more of a woman's drink or something you would drink with lunch, not the sort of thing you would want to get wasted on. It is fairly cheap though.

In China they have their own 40+% versions of soju, various other white spirits I couldn't identify and some quite good, cheap local red wines. When I was in Cambodia and Thailand I drank Mekong whiskey, which is reasonably good and cheap, but I understand there are various cheaper spirits available. I also drank beer lao, which is awesome.

What other booze should we be looking out for in Asia if we are not all that rich?

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Post by Everdred » October 4th, 2012, 9:48 am

"Baijiu" (白酒) is the cheapest alcohol you can find in China. You can pretty much find it anywhere, including most convenience stores and supermarkets. Baijiu is by far the most popular alcohol in China, so there's lots of different brands to choose from, all varying in price. The cheap stuff is usually about 10 RMB (about $1.50 USD) for a 500 mL bottle, but the luxurious brands, such as Mao Tai, can cost as much as 500 RMB for a 500 mL bottle. Baijiu is very strong, usually 50 - 70% alcohol, so it can make you drunk very fast, and it tastes terrible. Whenever I went to dinners with middle-aged Chinese guys, their drink of choice was usually baijiu, and we would all slam shots together. It was always very hard to pace myself because of the strong alcohol content.

Beer is also dirt cheap in China, and the most popular brands are Tsingtao and Snow. If you buy Chinese beer at the supermarket, it's as cheap as 2 RMB per 600 mL bottle, and usually no more expensive than 10 RMB per 600 mL bottle. Most Chinese beers are very weak and have only about 3% alcohol. 99% of Chinese beers taste the same, and they pretty much all taste like garbage. It's all about quantity over quality. Good flavor and freshness are not a priority for Chinese beer manufacturers. I've drunk Korean beer many times, and I can assure you that Chinese beer is worse. Asia in general doesn't produce many high-quality, tasty beers. The best Chinese beer I ever found during my years in China was Tsingtao Stout, but even it would be crushed in comparison to any Western stout beer. I should also note that most people in Northeast China don't drink cold drinks, and that includes beer, so every time you order a beer in a restaurant or your friend gives you a beer, it'll more often than not be lukewarm. I found that very hard to get used to.

Below is a link to an article that goes more into depth on the topic of Chinese alcohol:

Lost Laowai: A Guide to Chinese Alcohol

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Post by xiongmao » October 4th, 2012, 12:19 pm

Good report Everdred.

I wondered about that cheap moonshine sold in store - I brought some back for my brother to drink!

If I need to get drunk in China I tend to prefer rice wine - Korean imports are quite common, and not bad quality.

Chinese wine is pretty terrible, well the Great Wall stuff anyway. This was really common in Wuhan, I guess Cantonese have better taste (and more money) so they drink foreign stuff.

In Guangzhou I preferred the Harbin beer. Most beer tastes like Heinekin, and it's really weak (around 3.5%).

In Hubei they had a thing for serving beer warm, which was the worst thing ever. In fact the Chinese do tend to fear cold things, and it seems quite common for kids to eat cold ice cream, then end up in hospital with a chill!

Cold drinks are common in the subtropics though (e.g. Guangzhou) - thank goodness.

Hong Kong has some wonderful beers from local breweries, but I've never actually found them in China. I remember one was from the Shenzhen Brewery - this was 6 years ago though.
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Post by royaldude » October 7th, 2012, 10:33 pm

philippines has san miguel not bad but also has red horse which is more like malt liquor. they have very cheap rum although not high quality. but even whiskey, vodka i found to be same price or cheaper than usa. btw most asians cant drink worth shit. ive rarely had phil girls drink more than 6 drinks without passing out. even guys there are weak drinkers.

my dad worked in china as a rep for american company. culturally when chinese do business deals they get drunk to get leverage in contracts. my dad who is 100% irish told me they drank like kids and couldnt hold there own.
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Post by FREEDOM1 » October 7th, 2012, 11:41 pm

There are 2 thai beers that you get in most places in Austraila, - Chang and Singha

both are very good beers, i actually like them better then most aussie beers

I recommend both of them, I am really looking forward to my trip to Thailand

They have already won me over with their food and beer and this is even before we

get to the girls :D

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Post by E Irizarry R&B Singer » May 14th, 2013, 1:34 am

FREEDOM1 wrote:There are 2 thai beers that you get in most places in Austraila, - Chang and Singha

both are very good beers, i actually like them better then most aussie beers

I recommend both of them, I am really looking forward to my trip to Thailand

They have already won me over with their food and beer and this is even before we

get to the girls :D
Singha > Chang.

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Post by anamericaninbangkok » May 14th, 2013, 1:42 am

Sang Som...

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Post by Mr S » May 16th, 2013, 4:02 pm

Philippines has lot's of cheap LOCAL liquor and beer as that is the number one pastime for men in the Philippines, getting piss drunk on a regular basis or on the weekends/holidays.

So for all you alcoholics out there, the Philippines is a good place to visit or live, :-)

I actually work with a functional alcoholic, he moved to AC specifically so he can ogle young women and get piss drunk every day when he isn't working. He's one of those guys who can drink every night but still work an 8 hr day with no problems. Says he doesn't get hang overs, maybe that's why.

Local Gin/vodka/whiskey:
Local Rum:
Lambanog (get ready for a hangover):
Local beers:

Personally I think San Miguel beer sucks but the company has monopolized the beer market here and brainwashed all Filipinos to accept this beer as their only option to drink. Red Horse beer is the strongest, most lower socio-economic Filipino men drink this just to get piss drunk fast i guess. If you want a strong beer that doesn't taste too bad the strong Ice option is okay, but it's usually not available in most bars/clubs. the light beer tastes like carbonated piss water but its the only option if you don't want to feel bloated then you drink this crap beer. San Miguel premium beer tastes the best but of course they never offer it anywhere.

Basically when you go out to bars you have 2 options, San Miguel regular, light Red horse. Occasionally they may sell super dry/strong ice/Cervaza Negra but it's not common. Other beers available occasionally are Colt 45, Coors reg/light. Beer na Beer used to be an option in the provinces but I think San Miguel bought them out so not sure if they are still around or not. They sell this shit beer called Manila beer in some places, it's like the lowest quality beer you can drink, tastes worse than the San Miguel light piss though.
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