Laos Brought to You by Beer Lao

A cold bottle of Beer Lao on a warm Lao day.

I’m not a big beer drinker anymore but without question one of my favorite beers is Beer Lao. On my recent visa run to Laos I had ample opportunity to enjoy my favorite beer in quantity. On arrival at the hotel I was a bit parched and I opened the fridge to get one of the free waters out and a broad smile crossed my face when I noticed the fridge was completely stocked with Beer Lao, and cheap Beer Lao at that.

Beer Lao is the national beer of Laos and has a unique history compared to other brewers.

Lao Brewery Co., Ltd. was founded in 1973 as a joint-venture between foreign investors and Lao businessmen originally under the registered name of Lao Beer and Ice Factory. At that time, the company had an annual production capacity of 3 million litres of beer,  1.5 million litres of carbonated drinks and a daily production capacity of 120 tonnes of ice.

After National Liberation in December 1975, the Lao Government took over the foreigners’ shares and followed by the voluntarily handing over of shares from the Lao businessmen to the State.

In 1993, Loxley Public Co., Ltd and Italian-Thai Public Co., Ltd invested in Lao Brewery Co., Ltd which enabled the increase on both its production capacity and marketing potential. In 2002, there was a change in the foreign joint venture partners as the new partners involved were the Lao Government (50%), Carlsberg Asia Co. Ltd. (25%) and the TCC International Co. Ltd. (25%). In 2005 there was another change in ownership with the Lao government holding a 50% stake and Carlsberg Breweries also holding a 50% share.

On May 24th 2008, Lao Brewery Co., Ltd officially opened its second factory in Chapasak province with the honorable presence of H.E Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister, and Standing member of the Government. This plant composes of a full managerial and technological system. The factory’s production’s line is fully in command of computerized systems and innovative machines generating its annual production capacity of 50 million litters and could be extended to 200 million litters. In addition, carbonated and soft drinks affiliated to Pepsi Inc. are also produced here.

Walking around Vientiane you’ll notice that Beer Lao is proudly served everywhere, and rightly so. You’ll also notice they might be a little too proud at times. Sure, you expect to see beer advertising in bars and restaurants but then you start the notice the little things. Like the small Beer Lao advertisement at the bottom of speed limit signs or random huge balloons floating above you in the sky with the Beer Lao logo.

Speed limit sign in Laos sponsored by Beer Lao Balloon advertisement for Beer Lao

While in Vientiane there was a large festival taking place at the local Wat with many dignitaries and monks involved, and Beer Lao was involved as well. There were plenty of merchants and companies giving away freebies in very well appointed stalls but Beer Lao was not to be outdone. They not only sponsored the affair but built a huge beer hall and yes they were giving away Beer Lao, not a lot, just enough to get you interested in buying some more. Worked on me that’s for sure, and the multitude of beautiful women employed to draw you in didn’t hurt either.

Beer Lao Beer house at Lao festival

I love Beer Lao but I have to admit I was a little taken aback at the advertisements on speed limit signs. Lao Brewery Co., Ltd. bills itself as a socially responsible company but only when it comes to being green and looking after the environment. With drunk driving at an all time high in South East Asia you would think they might be a little more socially responsible.

Well, I wasn’t driving or drunk but I did enjoy quite a few Beer Lao’s while in Laos, responsibly.


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3 Responses to Laos Brought to You by Beer Lao
  1. Paul Garrigan
    December 19, 2010 | 3:56 pm

    Plus you have all those foreign tourists paying for Beer Lao t-shirts – more free advertising.
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  3. SiamRick
    December 19, 2010 | 7:39 pm

    Talen, you’re just reminding me that I have to get back to Laos soon for some cheap (and good) drinks. I wish Beer Lao would get full distribution in Thailand but it would devastate the Thai beer market and, as far as I know, Thai authorities are not that stupid. On top of that, Lao Brewery may not have the capacity to satisfy the thirst for good beer of just the expat community.

    I remember last time I was there (early 2010) seeing so many Beer Lao ads, sponsorships and souvenirs like the brewer had competition. Is the government going to let a new Lao brewer start up? I don’t think so.
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