I’ve wanted to visit Cambodia for a long time, mostly to visit Angkor Wat. I will admit my travels through South East Asia didn’t leave me hopeful, but I did find craft beer in Cambodia. Don’t expect it to be everywhere. I only visited the one place, but it was worth seeking out.
Before I discuss the beer I have to say that this is a fantastic country to visit. I only had a week to spare so could just manage to visit Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The people are friendly, there is so much to see and do and Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are amazing. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to get to Sihanoukville and the nearby islands which are supposed to be sensational. It was the low season which meant no hordes of tourists but some high temperatures.
Like anywhere you will find a locally mass-produced lager. The brands I encountered were Angkor, Cambodia and Anchor. If they were ice cold they were a decent beer to drink in the heat.
Phnom Penh is home to Kingdom Breweries a craft brewery that produces a pilsener and a dark lager. Apparently they have a TGIF event on the first and third Friday of the month. My itinerary didn’t enable me to visit (I know, poor planning) but I would love to go if I get back to Cambodia. I couldn’t find their beers in any bars I went to. It is exported however, so I will have to keep an eye out for it.
Once I got to Siem Reap I was pleased to discover Siem Reap Brewpub. This place was great. They have five beers produced there: Blonde Ale, Golden Ale, Honey Weiss, IPA and a Dark Ale. I tried them all of course and they were quite tasty. The Blonde Ale and the Dark Ale were the standouts for me. The blonde was light and easy drinking with tropical hop aroma (perfect in the heat), while the dark ale had a rich dark malt flavour with chocolate and coffee notes, without being too heavy (again good in the heat). I admit I wasn’t expecting greatness from a Cambodian craft brewery. I was pleased to be proven wrong by some solid beers. I won’t ever expect the worst of any brewery again.
The venue itself is modern and comfortable. The staff are eager to discuss the beer styles and their distinct flavours and aromas. They even have a signature cocktail for each of the beers. I had the “IPA Hunter” which paired the citrus and pine flavours of the IPA with ginger, orange and bitters. It was a great afternoon at a great venue. A welcome oasis from the heat.
While Cambodia won’t yield the craft beer variety that trips to other countries will, it is a country that is worth visiting for its history, landscape and adventure and occasionally you’ll find craft beer.