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The taste test: through a glass, darkly, on Phuket

Phuket Brewery: Beer And Milk Mix Contentedly

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
ONE PIECE of good news from the Phuket Brewery concerns beer, the other is connected to milk.

The Dairy Hut, one of the most popular restaurants in Phuket City, now has a branch at the Brewery, offering similar prices and good value to the original outlet.

If it's not too much of a crazy concept, it's now possible to meet someone at the Dairy Hut in the Phuket Brewery for a few beers . . . . or a milkshake.

The other good news is that the Brewery reckons that their boutique beer is now just about right. They've been busy since the grand opening in November perfecting their technique, the way that good brewers do.

Now, they say, they've nailed it. So Phuketwan was invited along to taste some samples.

It was not an invitation we needed to consider for long, because we think beer is probably the finest thing that ever to happen to water, with the possible exception of wine.

A couple of expats who must share that view are already at the Brewery for a lunchtime sip, knocking back pints. Not wine or milk, but beer, glorious beer.

We sample three kinds of Brewery brews, a fruity Pearl Wizen, a dark Pearl Dunkel and a pleasant Pearl Lager.

And yes, we'd have to say the Brewery is getting it right. All three tasted good.

As well as deserving support for what it is attempting to do with beer, the Brewery is also a good guide to the economics of the island.

Was it wise to open Phuket's large entertainment venue just in time for the economic crunch of 2009?

Maybe not, but the Brewery is going about making the best of it.

The huge auditorium, with sit-down tables available for close to 2000, is about 30 percent full most nights, we were told.

And when there's a Carabao show or some other headliner from Bangkok, it's not unusual for the ''House Full'' sign to go up days in advance.

Most Saturday nights, the brewery is packed. The fact that the venue is still going strong seems an indication that the island is, essentially, not doing badly.

Adapting to circumstances is what it's all about, hence the arrival of the Dairy Hut. The original Dairy Hut offers good value, and the second restaurant at the Brewery gives people an alternative, especially for lunch.

Prices for food at the Brewery outside the Dairy Hut are a little higher, but then the serves are larger.

The beer too is considerably more expensive, but then that's standard wherever boutique beer is brewed. Beer drinkers usually value great taste above price.

The Phuket Brewery remains one of those mixtures of messages that sometimes seems odd to Westerners. While it's a brewery, entertainment is actually the main purpose.

Out front, arriving guests note the entrance representation of a large ship, and the message in lights is ''Welcome to Paradise on Board.''

Once inside, there's a live band on a large stage, with karaoke available in private rooms (very popular, so we are told) and facilities for just about every big family occasion.

The live music comes free, although with a headline act there may be a cover charge of 300 baht. And before too long, Western acts are expected to be considered.

This venue and its continuing success remains Phuket's best hope of seeing top performers from around the world one of these days.

Sailing ship . . .brewery . . . Dairy Hut restaurant. The gelato bar with home-made icecream sits close to the big-screen outdoor area, just perfect for sport.

And those two early-start expats are still there, enjoying their liquid lunch. Pour me another Dunkel, and make it dark not milky, please.

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We've been eating at Dairy Hut since 2005 and it's still a favourite. The Yam Dairy Hut is my top dish. The Brewery - great beer, overpriced food - glad to hear there is a Dairy Hut II - I do believe we will be checking that out very soon!

Posted by Jamie on June 10, 2009 19:20

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