The local Brewery (‘Cambrew Ltd’, part of the Carlsberg Group), who supply Angkor, Heineken, Asahi and Klang Beers (amongst others), open their door to visitors every Wednesday from 3pm til 5pm, and after many failed attempts to pay a visit to the Angkor Brewery here in Sihanoukville, I eventually ‘took the tour’ on wednesday this week.
Even this occasion was a little of a gamble though, I spoke with another expat in the Freedom Bar and he reported that the Brewery Tour was closed down. Possible due to the Elections this week. Personally I couldn’t quite see the connection, but stranger things have proven true in this town.
Anyway, I decided to make the visit alone as I didn’t want gather up a few friends to make the journey only to find it a waste of time.
I arrived at the Angkor Brewery gates a little after the official ‘start-time’ of 3pm. There were no signs that even mentioned the Tour and the Gate-Guards didn’t speak any English. After struggling with a few questions they eventually picked up on two words …. ‘Free’ and ‘Beer’!
With this, they duly handed me a visitors ID badge and pointed me in the direction of an external spiral staircase which accessed one of the buildings. Once inside, my search for ‘free Angkor beer’ faced another obstacle, around 15 doors none of which had any signs or ‘clues’. After trying two which were locked, I noticed some hanging beer signs through the window of another room across the landing.
To my surprise and despite having seating for over 50 people, only two others were in the room. A couple who were on a year long tour of Asia, a English guy and his Icelandic Girlfriend. Turns out they could drink pretty well and I actually had a little trouble keeping up with both of them.
Around 30 or so minutes later, we were joined by an Aussie couple, but they weren’t actually here for the Angkor Beer, they honestly thought that it was a genuine ‘Tour’ of the Brewery. This was not to be and I explained that basically, all the tour entails is having access to free beer and drinking yourself stupid until either you pass out or run out of time! After one beer, they left.
The three of us kept on drinking and, if I remember rightly, had around 8 or 9 glasses of extremely well chilled Angkor Beer, very nice. The two waitresses never broke into a smile throughout the whole two hours, but I guess free beer and good service is too much to ask for. So, despite the inbuilt urge to leave a tip, I managed to refrain.
Sadly, we discovered that 5pm wasn’t ‘last orders’ it was time to leave as this is the time the entire brewery closes. Out into the harsh Cambodian sunlight we went.
On the whole there isn’t anything to see, it’s not really a ‘Tour’ in the true sense, it’s simply an opportunity to sample Angkor Beer for free. With this in mind though, and considering the numbers of ‘Backpackers’ in town at the moment, I was shocked that only five people turned up.
Seems that organising a “pi**-up in a brewery” isn’t as easy as you’d think!
Capacity: 500,000 hl
Employees: 1,255 (include 900+ promotion assistants)
Market Position: 2
Market Share: 26%
Total Beer Market: 1,100,000 hl (estimation)
Consumption per person: 7 litres
Carlsberg Ownership: 50%
Did you know that …?
- Angkor Beer and Black Panther Stout received Silver Awards in the lager and stout classes of the international section of the 2002 Australian International Beer Awards
- Cambrew and Carlsberg signed the Beer Promoter’s Code of Conduct in 2006, together with other major brewing operations in Cambodia, in order to improve the working conditions of the beer promoters
Angkor Beer, Bayon Beer, Klang Beer, Black Panther, Angkor Stout