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Beer Lao, beerlao in SF

I doubt I will like BEERLAO, but I am interested in analyzing it.

Are there any restos or retail stores *in SF* carrying Beer Lao (beerlao)?
[so, not Champa Garden].

Recent article/NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/bus...

Older acticle/WSJ:
http://online.wsj.com/public/article_...

City Beer? Healthy Spirits? BevMo?

ok tnx.

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  1. I've never seen it at BevMo or Healthy Spirits. Not sure about City Beer but you could try calling them. I _have_ seen it at Sunset Super on Irving, though it was at least a year ago and probably more. Didn't buy it so can't comment on freshness.

    Beerlao may not be a great beer, but it's likely the best Southeast Asian beer and a welcome quencher when you're in the middle of the Lao PDR and it's 90+ degrees outside. The dark lager (no distribution here AFAIK) I probably drank every single day when I was there. Also bicycled out to the factory and took a 10 minute tour- it's basically like any other Carlsberg factory now, with modern production methods.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bigwheel042

      "likely the best Southeast Asian beer." Better than Singha?

      1. re: Xiao Yang

        I think it's waaaay better than Singha, but definitely inferior to the good microbrews we enjoy in N CA and the PNW

        1. re: bruce3404

          since you know both the beerlao and our native microbrews, bruce3404, how does it compare with the Con Rong Chao Tien, a pale ale conceived by an asian -american brewer originally at sierra nevada, now made at Anderson Brewing in Boonville? for me, the Chao Tien has a pretty ideal flavor/body profile for s.e.asian spicy foods. from the comments, is beerlao a lager, perhaps in the heineken continuum like the Indonesian beers?

        2. re: Xiao Yang

          Easily better than Singha. There's a reason you can barely get the stuff even in Thailand - every time the Thai authorities lower the exorbitant import tax on it, it gobbles up market share from the Thai breweries, causing them to lobby for higher taxes again.

          1. re: bigwheel042

            eh, i like Singha better. But Beer Lao isn't bad!

      2. They serve Beerlao at Bagdad Cafe, but they tend to run out of it quickly. It also seems that some of their waiters are not aware that Beerlao is served there, so if your waiter ever gives you a confused look about Beerlao, just ask for a bottle of Beerlao from the manager instead. =)

        Beerlao tastes lovely and it's nicely smooth, but only when the beer is thoroughly chilled (preferably overnight). I've had Beerlao that wasn't cold and unfortunately this beer isn't too forgiving as far as the coldness factor is concerned. Other beers may taste okay even if they're not cold, but Beerlao must be served cold. There's no leeway here.

        5 Replies
        1. re: yummyrice

          Hi, thanks both of you for the advice.
          Although my favorite non-dark beers tend to be stuff like the "Belgian Blanches",
          with summer coming up, I thought I could make an exception to analyze this ...

          YRice: I also like *cold* beer, in spite of what some beer people say about getting more
          taste after they warm up.

          BW042: yes, i suspected it was not especually unique but since i'm heading to Turkey and not the Mekong, i dont think i'll be able to experience it in it's native setting this year.

          that's funny about the BC waiters not knowing about it.

          i'll try to remember to check out SUNSET SUPER next time i go out to
          Yummy Yummy.

          i was excited to be able to pick up a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru last time
          i was at City Beer.

          1. re: psb

            If you're able to find and buy Beerlao at a retail store, just remember to put the bottles in your fridge and don't drink them until the following day...there's no exceptions to this rule. =)

            Anyway, most stores don't stock Beerlao but many of them are able to do a special order for Beerlao as long as you provide them with the distributor's contact information. If not, then they'll do a search for the distributor themselves. If I were you, I would just go to your nearest Lucky or Safeway store and have the manager do all of the work for you. They do special orders all of the time.

            1. re: psb

              FYI, I've now been to Sunset Super a few times in the last couple of months and it definitely seems to have disappeared. I also didn't remember seeing it on my first visit to City Beer about a month ago (not surprising as it's more of a curiosity than a beer for the connoisseur).

              1. re: bigwheel042

                BeerLao is a session beer, for sure. It's not something that's going to tempt me away from, say, Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge on tap, but for a case to take to a barbecue, it's hard to beat.

                1. re: bigwheel042

                  When it comes to eating spicy Lao foods, I think a cold BeerLao is definitely the perfect compliment. =)

            2. You could call the distributor (Ken Stutz of Stutz Olive Oil) and ask. When I asked him in February he said he expected to have it in some places in SF soon, but at the time Champa Garden was the only place.

              http://stutzco.com/Contact.html

              10 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                That's funny, I definitely had a bottle at Lao-Thai Kitchen in Albany before February. I wonder where they were getting it from if not the distributor?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I believe H.C. Foods Co., Ltd. is the biggest Beerlao distributor in California.

                    Here's their website:
                    http://www.hcfoods.net

                    Their Beerlao products page:
                    https://www.hcfoods.net/shop/index.ph...

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  >You could call the distributor (Ken Stutz of Stutz Olive Oil)
                  >
                  That fellow does traffic in Lao Beer, but was not able to shed light on any other
                  SF options.

                  Thanks for the suggestion.

                  1. re: psb

                    Here's a running list of locations that offer Beerlao in the SF Bay Area:

                    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/w...

                    1. re: yummyrice

                      Thanks for this link, I was on the way to my folks place and stopped at Genes FIne Foods in Pleasanton and they had 2 six packs left which I happily took. I talked to the manager there who said it's a slow seller so he wasn't sure if he was going to order more so anybody in the area that's interested please request it so we can keep another source of this wonderful brew!

                      1. re: oaktown_chow

                        You're welcome. It's a slow seller at that place because no one seems to want to spend money to advertise that they've got Beerlao in stock. There are people looking for Beerlao, but they have no clue where to get it from especially here in the Bay Area. I think if anyone in the Bay Area wants to make some extra cash, they should get into the beer marketing business and start promoting Beerlao and become one of the main distributors. We just need someone to air a Beerlao commercial on any of the local Bay Area TV stations to announce the locations where Beerlao is available. =)

                      2. re: yummyrice

                        Beerlao in Oakland/Easy Bay 2013 summer?

                        Checked the supermarket on 12th st Oakland next to Pho Ao Sen, International Lao market on 14th near 16th Avenue, and Sun Hop Fat #1. None appeared to carry it, only Sun Hop Fat had beer at all.

                        1. re: twocents

                          I don't think I've ever seen it at a grocery around here. In my rounds at Champa Gardens, Chai Thai Noodle, and Souk Savanh, who all have it on their menu my success rate in actually getting one is about 10%.

                          1. re: twocents

                            Cases and cases of Beer Lao stacked up at Champa Garden on Monday.

                    2. They've got it at Chai Thai Noodles now.

                      1. Champa now has both light and dark.

                        1. According to a blog comment, they're going to be serving BeerLao at a banquet this coming Saturday in SF:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650532

                          1. Thailao market in Santa Rosa has a sign in the window promoting Beer Lao. I asked to be sure that it's in stock and yes, it was available last week when I stopped by.

                            -----
                            Thailao Market
                            1081 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                            1. www.beerlaonow.com

                              If anyone would like their local store to pick up Beerlao, contact the sales rep at Sales@beerlaonow.com.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: thanh510

                                Even when local stores do pick up Beerlao, no one bothers promoting it so customers don't know that Beerlao is in stock. I think the distributors of Beerlao should also give out free Beerlao posters or marketing materials for local stores to advertise that they carry Beerlao...at least during the promotional period.

                                1. re: yummyrice

                                  They had lots of stickers at Champa when they first started carrying it, plus the promotional price of $2 a bottle.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    We have free posters and marketing materials for the retailers but it is up to them to put it up.

                                    1. re: thanh510

                                      I see...those retailers should really start using those marketing materials because Beerlao is still relatively unknown and so they can't expect their customers to buy Beerlao from their stores if no one knows that it's there in the first place. I have some friends who really enjoy drinking Beerlao, but the only place they know of that sells Beerlao is Champa Garden. It makes sense that when people think of Beerlao, they usually think of Lao cuisine, but I think it's time for a retailer to make Beerlao a beer for any cuisine, not just Lao cuisine. Someone just needs to advertise it. =)

                                      1. re: yummyrice

                                        It's nice to have people who are enthusiastic about Beer Lao. But in Laos, there must be a more "native" alcoholic drink that would, ideally, be an even better match for Lao cuisine. Something like a fermented rice beverage? Any ideas here?

                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                          Uhhh, well, there's lao-lao. But I doubt you'd want to sip some with your papaya salad any more than you'd want to wash your barbecue down with Wild Turkey. The stuff is firewater.

                                          I'm not sure I agree with the premise here. Not all cultures have the same practices of pairing food and alcohol as, say, the French do with wine. And sometimes beverages work really well with a cuisine's distinctive flavors even though they originated half a world away.

                                          1. re: bigwheel042

                                            Yes, but there is also Lao Hai, which is a fermented beverage of rice. My premise is that there is likely a beverage produced with more native ingredients (rice, rather than malted barley and hops) that is more in tune with the flavors of the cuisine. Of course, Lao Lao is also there, but it is distilled and naturally gains the firewater designation. My question is what did people drink before modern beer technology came from Europe? Yeah, Beer Lao works well, but what what preceded that?

                                            1. re: Tripeler

                                              Nothing. They had lao hai and lao lao, but I don't believe either was or is traditionally consumed with meals.

                                              I think beer has caught on in Asian countries in part because most had no food-friendly, lower-alcohol drinks.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Good answer. Thanks.
                                                True -- the international lager style certainly matches well with practically anything, and definitely has broad appeal.

                                          2. re: Tripeler

                                            Drinking beer is not a native Lao thing, but Beerlao is a nice complement to Lao cuisine especially when eating something traditional like sticky rice with spicy larb (laap).

                                            Besides, Lao rice varieties are also used as ingredients in Beerlao, not just European malted barley and hops.

                                            1. re: yummyrice

                                              After 3 trips to Lao, Beer Lao certainly seemed pretty popular w/ the locals. but maybe it was just us going native....

                                            2. re: Tripeler

                                              Not really, unless you like rice whiskey, the quality of which varies widely. Beer Lao is just about it. Been there 3 times -- it's truly a magical place. Still have a bottle of rice whiskey i brought home in the cabinet. Ginger tea and lemongrass tea (boiled from fresh) are wonderful. Local grown coffee improved dramatically in the mid-2000's.

                                  2. Maybe it's old news to find Beer Lao in a normal store, but Rainbow Grocery had a little display at the end of the wine & beer aisle. $8 for a 6-pack, I'll have one tonight now that it's cold.

                                    -----
                                    Rainbow Grocery
                                    1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: SteveG

                                      Did they have a lot of it in stock?

                                      1. re: yummyrice

                                        I saw it there also, they seemed to have quite a bit. I passed on it but picked up some very good Bridgeport IPA

                                    2. The only reason something rang a bell when I saw this beer at Rainbow yesterday is this thread. So - psb - Rainbow has this beer for approx $7 for a six pack.

                                      Cheers

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: osho

                                        :-)
                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6225...
                                        Looks like the price might be dropping--maybe wider distribution is lowering the cost.

                                        1. re: SteveG

                                          It's a Beer LAO Xmas, Charlie Brown!

                                      2. beer lao sighting at the san pablo supermarket in san pablo

                                        1. enjoyed a dark beer Lao w. our dinner at Khin Khao last night. wasn't aware that its brewer is Czech when describing it to my non-imbibing spouse as similar to the original Budweiser. the rice component was noticeable in the aftertaste, with a nuance similar to sake. refreshing enough to indulge in quantity, but as the foods were rich, copious, and satisfying, had just one.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: moto

                                            Sivilay Lasachack is Laotian. She trained in Prague, Berlin, and Copenhagen.

                                            http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                                            1. re: moto

                                              I can't get over how much I like Beerlao dark... I think I was introduced to this at Champa Garden in the early days , 2008 or earlier. Now mostly get it at Souk Savanh, occasionally Chai Thai when they have it. Would still love to be able to buy cases in Oakland, but will check out San Pablo Supermarktet if I get up to Ran Kanom.

                                              The well chosen and medium roasted dark malt, lightened further with rice make this an awesome beer to go with the cuisine. Caramel notes are emphasized in the aftertaste, and it doesn't have any of the smokey notes more common in the current american fashion of dark lagers. Just much lighter overall.

                                              1. re: twocents

                                                you might also like San Miguel Dark (Negra) they some times carry it at Ranch 99