With dry-January nothing but a distant memory already clouded by several hangovers, what better way is there to celebrate the alcoholic joys of February than to discover that a microbrewery has opened in Yangon. In fact this might be the first ever microbrewery in Myanmar, or not, I might be wrong, but that’s not important. What is important is that it brews the best beer in Myanmar, and you can drink it fresh from the barrel.
The brewery is called BurBrit and it’s located at the back of an industrial park, over the river in North Dagon. Don’t let its inconvenient location put you off, it’s worth the trek. They brew three beers on the premises, and I would advise you give them all a try. For 4000 Kyat you can order a beginners tasting set of all three presented on a smart wooden platter.
The first beer sampled is German Weizen. This light-golden and cloudy German style wheat-beer has a thick, piquant flavour very typical of its type. It’s a good looking beer, not quite as bitter as I would like, but its a fruity number with a decent body and is a very pleasing way to kick off the evening. This could easily be the third best beer currently available in Myanmar.
The second on the platter is the darker golden Rangoon Blonde. This is a full flavoured lager (or larger as they call it at BurBrit), the kind that reminds you what lager used to taste like before you moved to Myanmar. It’s less gassy, and comes at a more reasonable temperature than the usual draught lager served around town, which means the flavour isn’t masked and thus has the opportunity to shine through. With a delicate nose, its a refreshing and clean tasting brew and very drinkable. I consider this to be the second best beer in the whole country.
Which leaves contestant number three, the Burma Pale Ale. This is the real class act here, a proper IPA beer, with a rugged bitterness, a good dose of hops and lively fruity character. If you close your eyes as you sip, you could almost be snuggled up by the fire in the Riverhead Brewery in Marsden, Yorkshire, with the rain battering the doors and the smell of wet dogs and muddy boots in the air. This is a beer so magnificent, I’m not ashamed to admit it brought a tear to my eye. It is without doubt the best beer I have ever tasted in Myanmar.
Having finished the trio, I immediately ordered another larger glass of the BPA to confirm I wasn’t dreaming, and then another just to make sure. A small glass is 3900 Kyat, and a pint costs 5000 Kyat so although it is more expensive than a beer station, I’ve paid $8 for a bottle of Heineken at a swanky bar downtown before now so it’s definitely not priced unrealistically. Served at the perfect temperature in a chunky branded glass and presented on a union jack bar mat it has a dark oak body topped off with a tight creamy white head and was a beauty to behold.
If you do head up that way to sample the beers, and I strongly suggest you do, then depending on your preferred tastes you might rank the beers in a different order, but I can guarantee whichever style of beer you prefer, you’ll be drinking the best of its kind in the country without a doubt. And they do a decent bit of BBQ to boot.
One thing that is very noticeable about all three brews is the lack of that chemical aftertaste you often get. They taste natural and new, which I guess is what you’d expect drinking beer straight out of the brewery. But there’s more to it than that, they have life, they taste young and happy and fresh. They taste real.
I’m not sure of the British connection that the name of the brewery BurBrit suggests, it was difficult to find out much information from the bar staff, and to be honest I’d only gone there for a pint it wasn’t meant to be an investigative visit. I’m sure there will be many articles written about this place over the coming weeks, with extensive interviews with the owners, and I look forward to finding out more.
Located in a tin shed, the decor is very much in keeping with the industrial location of the brewery, with concrete walls, concrete floors and graffiti art adorning the walls, it is an exercise in minimalism. With windows into the clinical stainless steel brewery itself, simple furniture and an absence of music, there is little to distract you from the reason for being there. The beer. Though I wish they didn’t have the TV’s. The gardens are nice, minimalist, concreted and decorated, and there’s a small seating area overlooking Pazundaung creek that seems very peaceful and quiet.
I can’t imagine Heineken, Carlsberg or even Myanmar beer are particularly worried about the new competition, but I can see BurBrit becoming a firm favourite with expat and Myanmar beer aficionados. My only hope is that they somehow manage to establish a way of introducing their products into the bars and restaurants of Yangon, otherwise the battle with rush hour traffic on the long road up to North Dagon will have to become a regular part of my Friday nights.
By the way, this isn’t an advertorial, I’m just someone with a huge interest in beer who popped along for a pint and fell in love. I wrote an article once, “In Search of Yoma“, about my quest to find the newest beer in town , during which I attempted to taste all the beers made in the country. As enjoyable as that experiment was, it wasn’t half as wonderful as that first sip of BPA.
I’ve no idea who is behind BurBrit, but whoever you are, I salute you and wish you the best of luck in your endeavour.
And I thank you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
BurBrit is at D16 North Dagon Industrial Zone, U Wizara Road, North Dagon, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
They are open 4pm-10pm