The case of the disappearing beer

Karakuchi! Thanks again to corruption, the Cambodian Government’s coffers have been left super dry.

Millions of bottles and cans of beer imported from Singapore and Thailand simply disappeared at the Cambodian border before being taxed, the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) said in a report commissioned by two local breweries, Cambrew and Cambodia Brewery Limited.

“With weak governance and law enforcement, ‘contraband’ beer has … been booming,” the EIC said, adding that the smuggled brew accounted for 29 per cent of the country’s total beer market, far outstripping legal imports at 6 per cent.

The EIC says the Japanese beer Asahi, the cheapest foreign brand on the market, made-up the largest percentage of imported beer.

One of the strangest things about Asahi Super Dry in Cambodia is that Chinese-, Thai- and Japanese-brewed Asahi all make it onto the market at exactly the same price (around $9.50 per case). You can tell the difference between the Japanese and the other two before you taste them because the Japanese version has three rings in the lip of the can, as seen in figure 1 below, and the real thing will occasionally have Japanese promotional stickers on the cases and individual cans.

Figure 1 – Know your contraband beer

See: Cambodia losing millions to beer smuggling

6 thoughts on “The case of the disappearing beer”

  1. It’s mostly a price thing – both locals and tourists drink it because it’s cheap.

    I’d take an Angkor Extra Stout over Asahi, but Japanese Asahi does make for a less filling, late afternoon barbecue beer.

  2. Asahi is a delicious refreshing beer that seems to have far less of the formaldhyde headache I spent years getting with Anchor and Angkor. The day Asahi arrived was a happy day indeed. Also, if you go to Kokoro’s, you get to drink Japanese beer with Toshi, which is always a blast.

  3. Asahi saved my life (well nearly). After six years of living in Cambodia and drinking mostly Anchor, I developed a allergy to it and came out in red blotches after half a can. Never having been a fan of Laos, Crown, Bayon or any of the other brews on the market, I was at a loss on the lager beer front. Thankfully Asahi began to be imported in quantity around this time and I found it did not bring on a reaction (not the red blotches anyway). Three cheers to the Japanese master brewers and the Germans (or was it the Dutch) who taught them their trade!

  4. Phnomenon Specialized in food and drinks. This blog cover about Cambodian food which make me feel hungry every time I read this blog.

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