Bars and restaurants can’t serve you drinks, but Bar 7-Eleven is still open for takeaway, at least. Thanks to Thai craft beer makers Mahanakhon, their typically paltry selection just got better, too.
The craft beer brand’s white ale will be available in 330ml cans (B65) at 7-Elevens throughout Bangkok and the neighboring provinces starting Oct 21.
Unlike the usual mass market beers in Thailand, which are based on grain bills of rice and wheat, Mahanakhon’s unfiltered white ale is made with local ingredients like Job’s tears and oats to give it a naturally cloudy appearance, as well as spices like orange peel and coriander.
Getting a beer like this in 7-Eleven certainly counts as a coup (no pun intended).
While Thailand’s craft beer market has boomed over the past decade, the odds remain very much stacked against local beer makers—and importers, for that matter.
Dated and often draconian laws make entering the beer business in Thailand a Sisyphean venture—for example, blanket bans on alcohol sales, excessive import and excise duties, and towering barriers to entry that force brewers to produce over one million liters of beer per year to be able to sell it in cans or bottles. Not to mention the market is dominated by just two conglomerates.
Even this story falls into a sizable gray area of what is permissible and what is not in Thailand.
Any content deemed to be promoting alcohol consumption can be met with a sliding scale of fines. Photos of beer labels and bottles are a hard no, too, hence the pixelated banner image above.
Despite the state of the market, Mahanakhon has pressed on with its mission to make quality craft beer accessible throughout Thailand.
The brewers began making beer in 20-liter batches in a garage. Their footprint has since expanded across the country to bars, supermarkets like Tops, and now 7-Eleven. Earlier this year, they introduced a new product, their white IPA, as well as a refreshed version of their pale ale.
Mahanakhon partner Avi Yashaya says they hope to get their white IPA in 7-Eleven by early 2022, perhaps signaling a greater windfall for consumers in the new year.
Maybe by then Thailand will have finally “considered” whether alcoholic beverages can be consumed in bars and restaurants again, too.