Brewing discontent: Frothy passions erupt when Thailand craft beer goes big

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Crack open a bottle of Chiang Mai Weizen from Thailand’s first legal craft brewery, Chiang Mai Beer, and out pours a light straw color, almost golden or banana yellow. There’s a slight haze, typical of the weizen, or wheat style.

However, its recent debut started a firestorm on social media, with this particular beer becoming the focal point for a controversy that’s been brewing ever since the race to produce a large-scale, Thai-made craft beer began about two years ago.

In December, Chiang Mai Beer won that race, becoming Thailand’s first domestic craft brewery to distribute on a large scale. It got around the illegality of home brewing by sending it to be bottled in Laos and shipped back to Thailand to be taxed as “foreign-made beer.”

Despite this feat, critics were quick to slam it as awful and blame the move to large-scale production.

“The weizen has no mark of weizen at all,” proclaimed Yaksa Brewery. “The beer was too light. There was not a single trace of wheat. Every smell was overwhelmed by the rotten and damp smell. I tried to continue drinking it to really know it, but I had to give up. The beer was clearly infected.”