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Asian Beer Challenge: Blind tasting to find the best brew

By: Lucy Cleeve

Two Englishman, an Aussie, a Singaporean and a Frenchman walk into a bar… The preface to a lame joke? Not today, my friends. Rather, it’s our crack team of dedicated beer drinkers from around the world who we’ve assembled for a blind tasting of some of Asia’s favourites.

First, a quick whip round from the lads on the topic of all-time favourite beers provokes some passionate responses. “Stella!!!” shout the Englishmen, Marlon Brando-style. No surprises there. Meanwhile, the Aussie has our heads nodding with his devotion to Coopers Pale Ale, and our Frenchy bowls us over with, “Guinness – in Dublin”.

But what do they think of Asia’s amber fluid? To find out, we summon the hard-working lads to bust their beer guts at Bartini on Club Street, and to give us their take on a few beers from the region.


The drinkers
Simon, English, social media VP, 2 years in Singapore
Aaron, Australian, lawyer, 6 years in Singapore
Bryan, Singaporean, digital agency MD
Barnaby, English, bar manager, 2 years in Singapore
Vincent, French, social media director, 3 months in Singapore

The challenge
The five gentlemen are not told which beers they’ll be sampling. They’re each given five numbered glasses of beer and asked to comment on appearance, aroma and taste. Each tester is also to give a rating out of five.

What a fantastic sight 

The contenders & scores

1. Singha – 18/25
Euro pale lager style, 5%
Brewed in Bangkok at the Boon Rawd Brewery

Aaron gives our first beer props for being “intelligent and honest with a fruity body”. We wonder if he’s talking about beer. The lads chat about the beer’s light appearance, citrusy nose and low carbonation. Barnaby likes Singha’s “subtle hops” and Simon detects some “crisp, biscuity” notes. Bryan proclaims that this would be a great “ladies’ beer” but isn’t able to elaborate on this. All in all, it’s deemed a very quaffable brew (for both sexes).

2. Tiger – 17.5/25
American adjunct lager style, 5%
Brewed in Singapore by Asia Pacific Breweries

Despite it being a local favourite, our Singapore boy Bryan gives it a mediocre 2.5/5. Controversial! He feels it’s a bit acidic and bitter. Vincent makes it sound like a gym session, “sweaty and refreshing”. Aaron makes it sound like a much harder gym session: “punchy and aggressive”. The boys all agree that Tiger has a lingering aftertaste that stays with you, like a song in your head.

3. Sapporo Premium Beer – 20.5/25
Japanese rice lager style, 5%
Brewed in Tokyo, Japan by Sapporo Breweries

Now this one our resident beer bellies really like. Simon detects “an old-skool beer vibe”. Bryan likes its “rich, gold” colour and Barnaby pronounces it “robust and more beery” than the rest of the contenders. Aaron likens Sapporo to “an old friend”, and for Vincent it is “fruity” and his definite favourite.

4. Tsingtao – 20/25
American adjunct style beer, 4.7%
Brewed in China by the Tsingtao Brewery

Beer number four fares very well also. Bryan and Aaron sense some Champagne or prosecco notes in this beer. Simon isn’t so sure and feels it’s a little “saccharine and Diet Coke-y” for his delicate tastebuds. Overall this is deemed an easy-drinking, classic “lagery” beer. Aaron mentions “pub carpet” in his aroma roundup but then demands another round of number fours nonetheless.

5. San Miguel Pale Pilsen – 16/25
German Pilsener style, 5%
Brewed in the Philippines by San Miguel Brewery

The Filipino favourite doesn’t go down so well in our challenge. Would it have done better if our testers weren’t onto their fifth beer? Maybe. Unfortunately, we may never know. Beer number five gets hit with some insightful comments like “sharp paper”, “yellow”, “light-ish” and “pretty bland”. Not a great night for the old San Mig.

The verdict

Tsingtao puts up a strong fight but in the end it’s Sapporo by a nose.

Thanks boys. Thanks Bartini. Thanks beer. We love you all.