We have now tried five Laotian beers. They are…
As to the other three…
BeerLao Dark is a step up from BeerLao, like Heineken Dark is a step up from plain-old Heineken – but that ain’t saying much in either case (although Heineken, as crappy as it is, is still ahead of BeerLaos). BeerLao Dark has less of the bad-bitter aftertaste of BeerLao, so it’s a bit smoother. But that’s about it. It lacks the aromatics and hoppiness of a good dark lager. It can be found in a few stores, although not as commonly as plain-old BeerLao.
LaneXang, by BeerLao, is a different animal all together. It actually has some hoppy aromatics and good bitterness going on, and there’s a hint of homebrew yeastiness. It’s drinkable, as far as a Laotian beer can be drinkable. It’s also rather uncommon, as we have found it sold at only one place so far.
Namkhong Beer is a rare find, and thank God for that. It’s different from all the rest, which sounds interesting, but it’s an unbalanced beer. There is a lot of malty sweetness, but little hops bitterness for offset. The result is an undrinkable substance. I stopped sampling after half a glass.
So, how do they stack up?
Jen thinks that BeerLao and Namkhong should be poured down the sink, that BeerLao Dark is a slight but unimpressive improvement, that Tiger Beer is tolerable, and that LaneXang achieves something like decent.
I tend to agree, although I can still drink BeerLao absent a better alternative.
The lineup looks like…
#1: LaneXang by BeerLao (Drink if There’s Nothing Better in the Fridge)
#2: Tiger Beer (Drink if There’s Nothing Better in the Fridge)
#3: BeerLao Dark (Pour it Down the Sink)
#4: BeerLao (Pour it Down the Sink – unless in Laos, in which case its this or sobriety)
#5: Namkhong Beer (Pour it Down the Sink – then scrub the sink clean)
Bear in mind that all Loatian beers pale in comparison to any half-assed beer from Germany, England, Ireland, or the US. Also bear in mind that LaneXang is a rare find. Consequently, you’ll end up with BeerLao in your glass for the most part, like it or not.