Where in the world was TYIB?
The second destination of Beercation 2012 was the enigmatic Myanmar, Burma, Golden Land. While there are infinite observations to be made about a place that was once second to North Korea as the most isolated country in the world, there are finite beer observations to recount. If only there were as many beer options as golden pagodas! If only there were as many beer options as sticky rice desserts! If only there were as many beer options as foreign investors sniffing around for natural resources! You get my point.
Beer consumption is a relatively recent phenomenon in Myanmar. Before 1988, foreign beer was only found on the black market, and government-operated Mandalay Brewery (the only brewery in Myanmar at the time) had essentially gone bankrupt. In the early 1990s, as the economy began to open to foreign investment, Singapore investors were interested in reviving the brewing industry through privatization. While one investment venture resulted in a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice, another joint-venture with the government led to the establishment of the Myanmar Brewery, which produces “Myanmar’s Favourite Beer.” A few years later, Dagon Brewery was established, providing an alternative to Myanmar Lager and Mandalay Beer (for better or for worse). Mandalay Brewery, Myanmar Brewery, and Dagon Brewery are currently the only brewing facilities in the country.
Beer: Myanmar Lager
Brewery: Myanmar Brewery and Distillery
Style: Pale Lager
The Myanmar equivalent to the American Budweiser, Myanmar Lager is certainly an effective way to keep cool during the monsoon season. It’s well-carbonated, crisp, and there’s even a faint trace of hops. I could not have been more relieved to discover Myanmar Lager’s relatively wonderful balance and flavor. Despite being the only beer available in Yangon, I would have ordered Myanmar Lager over most of its foreign peers. If the Myanmar Brewery expands its facilities and begins to export Myanmar Lager on a wide-scale, Asian beer heavyweights such as Singha and Tsing-Tao will face tough competition.
DAGON LAGER BEER
Beer: Dagon Lager
Brewery: Dagon Brewery
Style: Pale Lager
The dirty secret of beer in Myanmar, Dagon Lager Beer is seemingly banned from all drinking establishments, to be found only in the depths of cheap grocery stores. I mean, it’s not vile, but as Dagon represents nearly half of all available beer options in Myanmar, I can understand the country’s embarrassment. There is no reason to venture into Dagon territory when Myanmar Lager, pride of the nation, is available pretty much everywhere except religious sites. It pours a pale yellow and has a aluminum and corn flavor profile. While I would absolutely choose a Dagon over a glass of local tap water, there’s a reason it sits on the bottom shelf.
MANDALAY STRONG ALE BEER
Beer: Mandalay Strong Ale Beer
Brewery: Mandalay Brewery
Style: English Strong Ale
Why purchase a Mandalay Ale Beer when you can indulge in a Mandalay Strong Ale Beer? A staple in central Myanmar, Mandalay Brewery puts out completely average brews. While clearly it’s impossible to get bored with the wondrous Myanmar Lager, Mandalay Strong Ale Beer was a welcomed alternative during a trip to Bagan in central Myanmar. It was well-carbonated, with a larger hop presence than Myanmar Lager.
TYIB, exploring geopolitics, one beer at a time.