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The Great Lankan Beer Taste-Off

We tasted every locally brewed and available beer. In the name of science!

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Sri Lanka's beer game has never been too strong (unlike BISON XXX), but things are picking up.

With harsh alcohol laws and corrupt liquor licence practices making it awfully difficult to own or run a bar here, drinking in the peace of your home has become ever more attractive. For those less flush with cash, these policies have also made illicit liquor (over 65% of the market, if not more) and subsequent badly distilled alcohol-related illnesses and deaths more rampant. Ah well, these are sad stories for investigative journalists much less inane and banal than us to cover.

Us simple chaps at YAMU HQ decided to launch the Big Lankan Beer Taste-Off, where we got big bottles of all the locally brewed brands and attempted a blind tasting. Here's the full video below, but I'll summarize it for you anyway.

Things We Learned

1. Three Coins and Baron have disappeared off the shelves.

2. Marketing and sentiment are tricky bedfellows. A lot of our opinions were based on existing bias rather than actual taste preferences.

3. South Asian brews tend to be lagers (as opposed to ales or stouts) because they're lighter, easier, and go better with our weather and food. 

4. Cold strong beer isn't nearly as disgusting as we all thought it was. Except Bison, which is even more disgusting.

Locally Brewed Beers On The Market

1 Carlsberg 310 4.8 640 Easy and watery, and surprisingly more bitter than the other light beers.
2 Lion Strong 390 8.8 625 Quite tasty for a strong beer.
3 Carslberg Special Brew 420 8.8 640 Rather a strong flavour. This needs to be icy cold for the taste to not overpower. Also one of the most expensive options on the list.
4 Sando Power 350 8.8 625 Totally divided our opinion! Some of us found it disgusting (me), some of us loved it (Bhagya)
5 Lion Lager 270 4.8 625 A tad watered down. Mostly sentimental appeal rather than actual taste, but the new brew is very gassy, relatively sweet and refreshing.
6 Bison Super Strong 390 8.8 625 DEATH
7 Anchor Smooth (Pilsener) 270 4.8 625 The lightest and easiest beer of them all. This is beer for starters.
8 Anchor Strong 390 8.8 625 A fairly drinkable strong beer that grows on you. Also less expensive than the other "premium brand" strong beers.
9 Tiger Black 420 8.8 640 Difficult to tell if it's a strong or lager. Beer identity crisis! Tasted good at first sip but had an awful after taste.
10 Tiger 310 4.8 640 One of the best beers we tried. Easy, light, and crisp with quickly diminishing head.
11 Lion Stout 390 8.8 625 Disqualified for being the only contender in Stout category

What Would We Recommend?

Damn, Lion really isn't the only cat on the local beer market anymore. With lots of contenders like Tiger, Anchor, and even Sando (shudder) in play after the tragic Lion drowning of 2016, our choices were surprisingly vast. Our overall favourites were :

1. Tiger Lager for its crisp, summery palatability. 

2. Lion Strong because it was the least odious strong beer.

3. Anchor Pilsener since it's light, easy, and super cheap at Rs. 270 a pop.

Keep in mind that all of these differently bottled, positioned, and marketed beers are only here to give you the illusion of choice, they're basically brewed by just 2 local breweries. Happy sipping!

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