As hotel bars go, none in Bangkok value good beer as highly as BeerVault, the crown jewel of Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok.
Opened in December 2010 and part of the hotel chain’s “Best Brew” beer program, BeerVault stocks more than 100 different beers by the bottle – one from every continent, except for Africa since no African beers are currently available in Thailand. (We’re still waiting, too, on Antarctica’s first brewery.) It may not offer the same type of rare cult-beer selection as, say, Mikkeller Bangkok, which debuted in January (and is one of my picks on CNN Travel for Asia’s best bars), but the volume is impressive and the menu reflective of the city’s maturing craft scene. Just a few years ago, finding a bottle of Rogue Ale at a Bangkok hotel bar was about as likely as Thailand’s political strife being soon resolved.
“Brian (Bartusch, of importers Beervana) was one of the first distributors to come here and introduce craft beer on a large scale,” says Food & Beverage Operation Manager Adrien Ehrsam, “and now there are a few more distributors that are broadening the selection, which is great from both a customer and business point of view.”
That’s not to say that Anheuser-Busch, Heineken, Singha and many of the world’s other macrobreweries aren’t still well represented at BeerVault, but they’re balanced by an extensive selection of Belgians and Germans, and handful of Spanish and American craft beers. If Ehrsam had his druthers more specialty beers would be poured, but there’s a good reason why there’s a strong, though not all together spectacular variety: price.
“People don’t want to pay 300 baht for a beer, so even though we want to have some of these other beers, it’s very challenging because they can be very expensive,” says Ehrsam. Three-hundred baht (around US$10) does, indeed, seem to be the price sensitivity point on craft beers in Bangkok at the moment, including at Mikkeller Bangkok, where most glasses of draft beers are priced between THB 240 – 290.
Ehrsam tries to circumvent the higher price tags on fancy beers by offering monthly discounts on new-to-BeerVault craft beers, like a recent promotion on bottles from Danish microbrewery Bryggeri Skovlyst. Promotional beers that sell sometimes stay on the menu permanently; those that don’t are replaced. With more importers introducing more and more new breweries to Bangkok, such test trials are easier than ever.
“It’s great that we have distributors that are willing to import these beers because it makes BeerVault really special and gives value to the name,” says Ehrsam. “Just to have local beers doesn’t make anything interesting. We would be the same as any other bar around the corner.”
As it stands, only BREW – Beers & Ciders and HOB – House of Beers currently stock more bottles than BeerVault, though the bar does still take the cake for best weekly specials, like happy hour prices from 5:30pm – midnight on Tuesdays, and an unlimited beer buffet on select draft and bottle beers every Wednesday from 6pm – 9pm for just THB 777.
I’ll drink to that.
BeerVault is located at Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok, Sukhumvit Soi 15. +66 2309 3000.