Bangkok to host its ‘biggest craft beer event ever’ in March

The fight against Thailand’s draconian booze laws continues next month when a community of brewers gathers for what’s billed as Thailand’s “biggest craft beer event ever.”

The inaugural Beer People Festival will run March 11 and 12 – inside The Street Ratchada shopping mall, where more than 200 labels will be shown off by brewers from throughout the country. Among the 400 expected flavors are barrel-aged mango papaya salad, tom yum soup, coconut and coffee stout, and more.

Apart from craft beer, people can also expect to taste over 30 locally made liquors such as Thai whisky, rice whisky, and sato (Thai rice wine). 

The event is organized by the Prachachon Beer (“Beer People”) community that was founded four years ago by Thanakorn “Benz” Tuamsa-ngaim.

With dozens of brewers participating, Thanakorn said his network grew significantly during COVID-19 pandemic, when the industry suffered from a booze ban and drinking restrictions. 

He said these growing allies are necessary in “changing the country.” Hopes were dashed last year when a bill to all but end the ban on homebrewing was voted down in parliament.

Prachachon Beer founder Thanakorn Tuamsa-ngiam, sitting on the stage, on Feb. 11 talks about the upcoming Beer People Festival at The Jam Factory.

So what will be at the biggest craft beer event in Thai history? Thanakorn said he has looked to the world’s largest beer event – Oktoberfest in Germany – in hope that his event will be a “kickstarter” for Thai-made beers and liquors to become better known on the regional and world stages. 

“In the next five years I want this event to engage people from all over Southeast Asia, and in the next 10 years, people from around the world,” Thanakorn said, adding that Thai craft beer’s potential is only held back by a lack of government support. 

Apart from shopping and sipping booze, visitors can also join hands-on workshops run by experts in the industry. Among them includes an owner of the Prumplum Umeshu Bar, who was fined for making the beverage, will lead the way on how to make Japanese plum wine at home. 

With a general election expected mid-year, organizers of the event have also invited a few political parties to join a panel discussion and talk about their policies regarding alcohol. Those parties which have confirmed are Move Forward, Thai Srang Thai, and Chart Pattana Kla. 

Update: Mall cancels Bangkok’s ‘biggest craft beer event’ because too political

“Thai craft beer is politics. We cannot avoid talking about politics when it comes to craft beer,” Thanakorn said. “I want to see political parties to talk about this and show their support. More people now understand and start asking why craft beers and liquors are always portrayed as a ‘bad guy,’ and why only a few companies can benefit from this restriction.”

Beer People Festival will run 11am to 9pm on March 11 and March 12 on the fifth floor of The Street Ratchada. The shopping mall is a short walk from MRT Thailand Cultural Centre.

Move Forward Party MP Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, at left, and beer activist Thanakorn Tuamsa-ngiam talk at a panel discussion on craft beer laws. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok


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