A few months ago being asked to put pen to paper about the topic of Beer, would have been an excuse to go out and do all the research I could at first hand. let’s be
honest about it Bangkok offers a wide choice or an extremely wide range of beers to cater for all size of pockets and taste. The market is flooded so to speak with
options, from the local brands which you can by from almost any outlet large or small to the general imported range from all over the globe, now to the ever growing
craft beer which appears to be taking the city by storm.
Before we go on to the everyday subject of prices, lets take a brief look at the situation. Its always been easy to get a drink if you want one, the licensing laws are firm,
with in theory strict hours of retail sales (11.00am to2pm and then 5pm to midnight), but lets be honest about it, if you wanted a drink its always been possible to buy one.
I’m sure we all know of a corner shop or place where you can just ask and they will serve, its no big deal and its trade and money for the establishment owner, something
that as a rule is never refused. The larger establishments and chains stores its more of following the rules, however its been known to obtain a drink outside the hours too.
Temple days are adhered to much more strictly, maybe its more of a social issue or stigma attached to it, but in the country where money talks or can pay for what ever
you want or need, there are no exceptions.
I’ve no particulate view on times of sales, I just view it as something like what happened where I came from as a kid, certain times alcohol was not served, and Sundays did
have some strange times, pubs were open at lunch time, but then closed in the afternoon to reopen again in the evening, it changed as things do, and here in Thailand there
is change underway, not on the grounds of probation as of the US in the 1930’s, though the mood from above is very different to what it used to be. All governments where
ever we come from are controlling of their people in one way shape or form, some are liberal about certain aspects and others more hard line, drinking is no exception.
I guess you would call a Junta bit more extreme than your average democracy, their aspect of life has always been about control, order and obeying ones superiors, but the real
world is not like that, they appear to struggle with freedom of thought and things that can’t be controlled, and its not a criticism its just an observation. All junta’s are the same.
We have seen a major clamp down on beer advertising even extending to social media, whilst on the surface it can be seen as oppressive or a kill joy mentality, there are obvious
social responsibilities that all powers that be have to consider what is right for its people, the health of the nation is a major factor, no country wants a increasing number of ill or sick
people due to abuse of substances. The other factor is alcohol has an anti-social effect on many people, whilst its a depressant, there are often anger management issues, just look
at many towns and cities in the UK at weekends, closing time can resemble a war zone akin to being in Syria. However a canny government also knows that taxing alcohol brings in
much needed revenue, and lets just say at this time Thailand needs that extra money, as other aspects of the economy are stalling.
We hear of bars, pubs and clubs closing in all areas, the business is just not there anymore in this environment, but sales are holding their own, people are now following the lead
of what happened in many other countries, changes in supply and also what is offered, online sales are up massively, and there are several companies offering home delivery, yes
its at a premium price, but now you can simply plan ahead more easily, though its never been difficult anyway. We today have a wider variety, the odd micro brewery is appearing
and the Craft Beer market is taking off, social outlets are springing up in many places. Like most places Bangkok is market driven, choice is the driving force, more and more imports
which whilst taxed on the upper scale will erode into the home market, not that the big manufacturers should worry to much, their exports are in a healthy position to an extent that
the home market is not the critical factor it once was… clever marketing and management if you ask me.
Elsewhere or should I say overseas, the control and supply of beer is controlled by the politicians and the rules enforced by the police, I guess you say its a little different here there is not
such a black and white situation, its much more grey. On running a bar or restaurant I’d never do it or be involved they are just to many pitfalls or obstacles to encounter. Any business
needs hands on management by its owner, but that is just not possible being a foreigner there are things you can and can not do, and those restrictions make it more difficult than it
really should be.
So is time being called on beer?….. No not really, the circumstances have changed and expect a lot more to come, the market is adapting as it always will, we’ve yet to see the places
where you can bring your own beer, however corkage on wine or spirits is common enough. Don’t worry probation is not coming to Bangkok anytime soon, neither will it. It was tried once
elsewhere and it pushed it into the black market which is only helping those on the darker side of the law. Control is better than banning, and like I said the government needs the tax
revenue, and on that brief topic… the latest increases…. a bit of a scotch mist announcement… lets make it more complicated than it should be to understand… but really is that not
the essence of Thai-ness? lets not offend anyone, but lets not make it easy to understand either!
Cheers and happy drinking!