The King of Cambodian Beer
Living in Northern California, where we have arguably one of the best brewpubs and one of the best beer bars in the country, we’ve naturally become a little picky about the beer we drink. We knew that would change when we began traveling, especially to Southeast Asia, where high temperatures make light lagers the beer of choice. For the most part, these beers are fine, able to quench your thirst on a hot day and cheap enough that they don’t blow the budget.
But besides being able to find a stray bottle of Belgian beer or a specialty beer from nearby beer meccas like Australia at one of the more Westernized grocery chains, our quest for a beer with a little more taste had eluded us.
Which is why we found ourselves at Kingdom Breweries last Friday night for the brewery’s monthly First Friday event. For $12 you get all the beer you can drink and all the grilled food you could eat. Sounds like a winning combination — and it was.
The brewery sits on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and is quite nice. They have a good-sized tap room with a round bar and an outside deck, which was perfect for a warm, but not intolerable night. To be honest, you could easily have transported the scene back to the U.S. microsoft exchange server . and it would have fit right in.
Kingdom takes the beer scene up a notch. The brewery uses ingredients from Germany and the Czech Republic and its pilsener has far more flavor than the other beers we’ve been drinking. They also produce a dark pilsner, which was nice as well.
But the beers actually tasted much better when paired with the grilled meats from Dan Meats. The crew was grilling up sausages and kabobs that were just fantastic and a welcome return to my pallet. Though not a true Cambodian experience, as there were no Cambodians there other than the people working, it was a perfect oasis as we celebrated one month in our temporary home. Oh, my attempts to explain an IPA to the staff went nowhere so that quest will continue.
Less successful was the round of beers we had at the Himawari Micro Brewery situated inside the Himawari Hotel which sits on the bank where the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers meet. While the outside area for drinking is fantastic, the beer left a something to be desired, even factoring in our low expectations. The beers were very light, mostly flavorless and fairly expensive. Yet, I believe the brewery does have potential, they were experimenting with some different types of beers (like a honey beer), so perhaps with a little bit of direction (I am available for consulting), I think they can turn out some decent beers.
With enough ex-pats living in Phnom Penh, some estimates place the number as high as 5,000 due to the large number of people working at NGOs like we are, and tourism growing, there is demand for good beer and smart entrepreneurs will make it happen.
Locations & Information
No. 1748 National Road 5 (about 1 km north of the Japanese Bridge)
+855 23 430 180
313 Sisowath Quay
+855 23 21 455