By all accounts, Cambodians are slightly bigger drinkers than the Thais. Knowing this I was expecting a decent variety of beer brands and was not disappointed. Whilst I was only able to sample a small amount of what is available due to our short visit, I did find a clear winner! Read on for my reviews, ordered best to worst.
Kingdom Pilsener (5.0%) – “Cambodia’s lush, mysterious jungles hide more than the splendours of Angkorian majesty. Deep in these green bastions rare beasts roam wild. The elusive clouded leopard, the strange plated pangolin, the stalwart kouprey – if not mythical, at least immensely difficult to find.” Marketed as Cambodia’s first truly premium beer, they want us to believe it’s taste and availability are rare. Subjectively this is true. When your competitors can barely be distinguished from a glass of water, this Pilsener is a shining star. It is also a little harder to find, but as the bottle says it’s “well worth the adventure”. Another cool little feature is the raised, intertwined mythical seven headed serpents coiled around the neck of the bottle. I’d give this an award on packaging alone. Double the cost of everything else here, but worth it.
Angkor (5.0%) – The best of Cambodia’s cheap lagers in my opinion. Can easily be found for 50c USD per glass or 75c per can without the need to shop around. Features the ubiquitous image and name of Angkor Wat. It’s a typical Asian lager that isn’t terrible, and you’ve downed 6 of them before you realise it, ’nuff said!
Angkor Extra Stout (8.0%) – Another inexplicably strong watery Asian stout. This was surprisingly better than Myanmar’s ABC, as instead of tasting like pure grain alcohol it had minor hints of coffee and chocolate like a real stout! I’m about 75% sure I only liked this because it was something else. I hear Vietnam has actual microbreweries and dark beer and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited.
Cambodia Lager (5.0%) – Is this Angkor in different packaging? I sure as shit could never tell the difference!
Gold Crown (4.5%) – I saw a poster for this exclaiming how well it goes with duck fetus and bamboo worms. I’m sure any liquid which can get the taste of those out of your mouth goes equally as well. Is this Cambodia in different packaging? I sure as shit could never tell the difference!
Anchor (5.0%) – Obviously the name Angkor was already taken, so this lot chose the closest English word they could find. Either that or the maratime reference is due to the fact that it tastes like Angkor but with added water. Still not sure if this is beer or coloured water. Avoid.
Kingdom Gold (5.0%) – Cool can, terrible taste. I couldn’t even be bothered to finish the only can of this that I tried. I’d rather be bitten by the seven headed serpent than let this pass my lips once more. Avoid at all cost.
I unfortunately wasn’t able to try Phnom Penh beer (the one with the elephant on the can), but I get the feeling I didn’t miss much. If I’ve missed something you liked, please tell me about it in the comments below!