We flew from Chiang Mai, Thailand over the mountains and down into Luang Prabang, Laos. In our journey so far I have enjoyed just moving forward, not having to back track to some place that we have been, so that was partially the motive to not take the night train back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai.
Luang Prabang is an UNESCO World Heritage site, almost frozen in time with a heavy French influence seen in the architecture throughout the streets. Big, shuttered windows are adorned with old women, just peeping out to see what’s going on in the street.
After Thailand we were just overwhelmed with the lagers. The majority seemed to taste the same, all sort of harsh. So we were surprised by how amazing Beerlao tasted.
(We may have enjoyed a Beerlao tender in Vientiane, complete with branded shelf & ice bucket)
As you can guess, Beerlao is the beer of Laos! The original lager, which comes in 22 oz. bombers, 12 oz. cans & bottles and on draft. It is a touch sweeter than most of the lagers we have experienced, though at the writing of this, Jen said that she prefers Angkor Beer in Cambodia. (I think that is just because we have been in Cambodia for over 3 weeks).
Beerlao also has a “Euro” dark lager, which is more expensive and only comes in the small 12 oz. bottle. Personally, I enjoyed the dark lager more. But unfortunately it was not as readily available.
There is also a Beerlao Gold. We did have this one as well, but it was nothing too different. They basically just use a different kind of hops.
Most of the country seems to be sponsored by Beerlao, in that all of the restaurant signs are provided by Beerlao. Apparently they are a large supporter of many events, happenings and the general economy in Laos. While in Vientiane, I realized that we were near that main brewing facility for Beerlao. I hopped on the web and checked out their site, trying to find any information out about a tour. Like most websites in SE Asia, this one apparently hadn’t been updated since 2009. I emailed the marketing department about a tour and still, to this day, never received any kind of reply. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
Also while in Vientiane, we happened upon a Belgian Beer Bar. Oh my. Chokdee Belgian Beer Bar was just what we needed. Chokdee means “Good Luck” and kick boxers say it to each other before a match. They had a great Belgian bottle selection.
Westmalle Trappist, Crumpton Oaks Farmhouse Apple Cider, Tripel Karmeliet, Delerium Tremens Red, Maredsous Abbey Bruin, Stassen Cider with Elderflower & Lime and Orval Trappist Ale to name a few. They also had the appropriate glassware for each brand. A very nice touch. The only downfall was that yes, these are imported from Belgium, so the prices were very high.
Sometimes beer can get a little pricey. Oh yes. Especially at Chokdee. So we bought a few bottles at the mini mart to take back to our hotel room. With that we found Savanna Dry Cider. Not too shabby of a cider. It’s from South Africa and is pretty delicious. We usually find the beer/cider for about half price in the mini mart or at a small shop on the street.
I’d highly recommend trying any of the Beerlao products. They are reasonably priced. We bought a 22 oz. bottle for 12000 kip at a bar, which converted is $1.52. I think a dark lager bottle at the mini mart was 8,000 kip which is about $1. Either way, it is cheap, and good beer. We’ve seen the original Beerlao in Vietnam and Cambodia, usually selling for $1.25 a can. But no sight of the elusive Beerlao Dark Lager.
(Here I am enjoying my first Beerlao Dark Lager on our first day in Luang Prabang, Laos)
Where did we stay in Laos?
Luang Prabang - The View Pavilion Hotel – Great location. Amazing views. Right across the street from a temple. Yummy breakfast.
Vientiane - Inter City Boutique Hotel – Again, amazing location. Right on the riverfront. Nice breakfast and lobby space.