Come to Cambodia and the need to drink locally brewed craft beer probably isn’t first on your list of priorities. However, after a long day of trekking in the scorching sun, feet tired and mouth dry, having a fruity, ice cold beer and snacks designed to match couldn’t be more right. Travellers and locals alike flock here. It just makes perfect sense. The only thing that surprises us is that it’s taken this long.
With craft beer cropping up in Vietnam and Thailand in recent years, and popularity booming, Cambodia was never going to be far behind. Siem Reap Brewpub offers both a selection of their fine crafts, brewed onsite in large, visible containers, and Western and Cambodian beer food. The brewer, Neo Say Wee, honed his skills in Singapore, earning accreditation along the way, before returning to his homeland to launch this excellent establishment, still a unique proposition in Siem Reap.
Siem Brewpub is housed just a five minute walk from pub street, but enjoys a relative calm in comparison to the lively, bustling and at times overwhelming atmosphere of that particular road.
The space is set back from the road, setting it apart from many of the other beer providers of the city centre, and the flora and fauna of the garden area create a sense of rural calm. It gets boisterous in the evenings, as the beer is just so damn quaffable.
Don’t be fooled into dismissing the food as this is a drinking spot. Sure, the fare on offer is made with drinking in mind, but it’s eminently delicious.
Western and Asian palates are equally catered for and the beer itself is often used as an ingredient. Amusingly, when chatting to the manager, we made the assumption that the burgers were on the menu to appease travellers. Conversely, the Cambodians come here for American beer food, and visitors for the spicy local pork belly. We learned two lessons from this – one, never to make assumptions, and two, craft beer goes beautifully with all types of cuisine.
The main event. Each beer is infused with different ingredients indigenous to the country for a unique Cambodian taste. We’d highly recommend the ‘tasting menu’ of beers which Siem Reap Brewpub offers. This comes in the form of cute, quarter measure glasses, each replicating the adult version, and each designed to suit the beer’s character. This attention to detail pleases us immensely. The tasters arrive in an artfully designed rack, and one can sample the full range of on-site brewed beers and leave able to still remember them.
As it’s a craft brewery place, we’ll talk beer. Genuinely, each glass had unique flavour and personality, but our favourite, unanimously, was the Saison. Extremely thirst quenching, with touches of the terrain from lemongrass and green peppercorn (grown in the region), we could’ve drunk a fair few of these, as it’s light and just assertive enough for the balmy evening.
A range of beers which all offer their own character, and reflect the personality of the owner as well as the country. With food to match, a thirsty punter couldn’t ask for anything more. Sure you can get $0.50 beers on pub street, but they won’t taste nearly as good as the beer here.
Image source: Siem Reap Brewpub Facebook
IDEAL dined as a guest of the restaurant