Is there anything unique about beer in Asian countries compared with European beer? or is it mainly just a brand difference?

Some of them are for example, Tsingtao beer of China, Saigon beer of Vietnam, Asahi beer of Japan, and Singha beer of Thailand etc.

Some of these beer have added rice besides wheat, which is said to make the fermentation process easier. But is there any essential difference from European beer because of some possible factors like terroir, as well as the difference between European wine and New World wine?

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    "Some of these beer have added rice besides wheat" While there are many wheat beers, most beer is made from barley. What is it you are trying to learn from understanding how beers MAY differ from continent to continent? Two IPA's made in the same town can vary greatly.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 19:24
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    Germany has a purity law that restricts the ingredients: Reinheitsgebot - Wikipedia. In particular, barley is the only permitted grain. Some other countries have, and some still do, follow the purity law. Even Tsingtao followed this regulation up until the early 1990s, when it was sold to new owners. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 22:18
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    Some mass market American beers add rice too. Like Budweiser for instance.
    – Eric S
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 14:18
  • @EricS Budweiser is not beer.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 20:55
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    Completely subjectively, I would say a big difference is that european beers are far tastier than, and therefore superior to, asian beers. The mass-produced beers from asia that are readily available in the western world are akin to mass-produced beers in the United States - terrible and utterly unpalatable. There are always exceptions to the rule - there are great microbreweries everywhere you go. Hitachino's Nest Beer is very good, for example. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


In general, commercial Asian beer is very like beer from other continents. Industrial Asian brewers mostly started in the 19th century, based on German lager brewing, and still mostly brew German-style lager. There's also a new wave of smaller breweries that copied US-style craft breweries.

You'd be hard put to it to find anything distinctively Asian about these, but there are some Asian variants developed from them.

In Japan they have happoshu, a kind of cheap beer that uses less malt and more sugar from other sources, simply for tax reasons. Vietnam also has a local variant of quickly-brewed lager beers sold cheaply in the street, called bia hoi.

However, traditional Asian beer as brewed by the farmers for their own use is a completely different story. These exist in places like Bhutan, Nepal, and probably quite a few more places, and are brewed according to local traditions that are totally different from western beer.

Western beer is made from malt, but these beers are usually brewed from raw grain using a fungus that breaks down the starch and makes sugar. Japanese sake (rice "beer") and Chinese huangjiu (rice "beer" and grain beer) are also made this way and could be considered Asian types of beer. Certainly huangjiu made from barley has a lot in common with what we call beer.

  • Any linked sources would improve your post. +1 For this information.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 6:53
  • Added some more links as suggested. Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 8:49
  • Sake is more accurately known as "rice wine" - I am actually unsure that there is anyone that refers to it as beer... Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 13:06
  • @TimBurnett-Bassist You need to define "beer" and "wine" before you start making this kind of claim. Usually "beer" is defined as undistilled alcohol made from grain, in which case sake is a beer. "Wine" is usually defined as alcohol from fruit/grapes, which means sake is definitely not a wine. See the wikipedia page for sake linked above. Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 6:17
  • @LarsMariusGarshol I am simply stating the fact that sake isn't ever referred to as beer. Even the wiki article that you reference refers to it as "Japanese rice wine" and goes on to say: "The brewing process for sake differs from the process for beer, where the conversion from starch to sugar and then from sugar to alcohol occurs in two distinct steps. Like other rice wines, when sake is brewed, these conversions occur simultaneously." It is most accurately it's own thing - being neither beer or wine. But it is still more commonly, and therefore accurately, referred to as 'wine.' Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 14:20

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