Chang is the second most popular beer in Thailand after Singha – which I reviewed recently for The Brew Club. Or it’s the most popular, if you read Beer Chang’s publicity. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
Whichever is true, Singha had the Thai beer market pretty much to itself until the ThaiBev corporation – responsible since the 1940s for brewing ‘Mekhong’ Thai whiskey – decided in 1995 to challenge Singha’s dominance in the beer market. A lengthy price war and marketing battle ensued and as you can see the judges are still out.
Like Singha, Beer Chang is brewed to around 6.4% ABV for domestic consumption and 5% ABV for export. The local brew includes rice in the mix, unlike the export version. Here in the UK Beer Chang has the higher profile, in no small part due to their sponsorship of Everton Football Club (that’s Soccer, okay?) but despite that Singha is available in most Thai restaurants.
The beer pours bright and golden with a respectable (for a lager) head that subsides quickly. The nose is quite understated, not much evidence of hops in there, a little disappointing.
And that disappointment continues to the flavour, which I found on the malty side, and ever so slightly cloying. Imagine malt liquor brewed in a lager style. Certainly no sign of the hops you expect to bite through a hot Thai curry.
In Thailand Beer Chang is sold for about 20% less than Singha, and it would appear that they skimp on the hops to make this viable. I’d give this beer two and a half stars, it’s drinkable, but I’d turn to other beers first. In Thailand I’d certainly head straight for the Singha, despite the price difference.