Good quality, tasty beer is quite hard to find in Thailand among the bland, fizzy lagers that make up the menu in most bars. But in Patong, on the holiday island of Phuket, and hidden away in the major Jung Ceylon shopping mall is the Full Moon Brewwork, a microbrewery producing a range of unusual craft ales.
Full Moon Brewwork: A Microbrewery and Bar in Patong, Phuket, Thailand
A look at the range of craft beers brewed at the Full Moon Brewwork microbrewery in Patong on the Thai holiday island of Phuket.
Full Moon Brewwork in Patong, Phuket
Photo by Steve Rogerson
Most people who head for the Jung Ceylon shopping centre in Patong on the Thai island of Phuket do so to enjoy browsing round major and minor shops in a pleasant, air-conditioned environment. But hidden away behind the giant ship that dominates the main courtyard is a rare treat for beer lovers – the Full Moon Brewwork.
Whereas the norm for bars in Thailand is to serve mass-produced, almost tasteless lagers, either brewed locally or imported, the Full Moon is bucking the trend by brewing its own craft beers, and a good job it is making of it as well. The bar has seating inside, where the beer is poured, or outside in the courtyard under the shadow of the ship. The beer making kit can be seen clearly seen next to a raised area that offers the occasional live music, normally a solo act with a guitar.
The home-brewed beers
A feature of the pub is that all the home-brewed beers have at least one local ingredient. Take the Phuket Lager, for example. This 5% abv unfiltered (thus naturally cloudy) lager uses Thai GABA rice from the HM King’s Royal Project blended in with German pilsner malt and four hop varieties. This looks and tastes a little like a wheat beer, but isn’t. A definite tangy bitterness, but not citrusy, is the most distinctive flavour.
What is a wheat beer is the 5% abv Oriental Wheat, which contains tropical Thai tangerine peels (which you can taste) and Chiangmai coriander seeds. Head brewer Sukij M Thipatima is keeping the one hop used a secret along with the particular blend of wheat, oatmeal and malt. Like all the beers brewed here, it uses a French yeast. The result is a much lighter colour than the lager, almost a pale yellow, and – of course – it is cloudy. The flavour is also much sharper and more refreshing.
Almost all beers in Thailand are light coloured, and so the Andaman Dark Ale stands out. This red and cloudy 5.5% abv beer has a slightly tangy flavour but is not as rich as one would expect given its blend of German caramel malt, chocolate malt, pilsner malt and Thai black sticky rice from the Sao-Hai paddy fields. The five hop varieties include the British Willamette hop.
In its just over three years existence, the bar has done two seasonal beers, and Sukij M Thipatima said in January 2014 that a third may appear by the end of 2014. The first one he did was a pale ale made using lemon grass and wild honey. He followed this with a beer made from extracts from pandanas leaves, normally found in desserts, to give a hint of sweetness.
Sukij M Thipatima, head brewer at the Full Moon Brewwork
Photo by Steve Rogerson
As well as the home brewed beers, the Half Moon also serves a range of international craft beers including some very nice Belgian beers such as the Trappistes Rochefort 10 and the Westmalle Triple. There is also a range of Coopers beers from Australia, Paulaner Hafe Weißbier from Germany, a couple of American craft beers – Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale – and Fuller’s London Pride from the UK.
The normal range of fizzy bland lagers are also on offer. These include the local Chang, Singha and Tiger lagers, Heineken and Carlsberg from Europe, and San Miguel from the Philippines.
Pricing, units and food
The home brewed beer is served in one of three glass sizes, confusingly labelled with imperial measurement names though they actually come in lined metric glasses, so for half pint read 250ml, for pint 500ml and mug 1000ml. What is a little naughty is the pricing on the menu. In most Thai bars, the price you see is the price you pay, but here the bill will have 7% tax and 10% service charge added.
The bar is also a nice alternative to eat from the fast-food chains in the shopping mall. There is a range of full meals and bar snacks; the chips are very nice.