The Wall Street Journal had an interesting profile a couple of days ago about Beerlao, a beer made in Laos. (Thanks, Doug, for sending me the link.) Partially owned by Carlsberg (it’s three of their 255 brands), the Lao Brewery makes a lager, a low-calorie Light and a Dark lager.
According to the Wall Street Journal profile, the brewer is Sivilay Lasachack, a 49-year old Russian woman who prefers sweet tea to beer. But by marketing to backpacking tourists from around the world, Lasachack hopes to build Beerlao into a national brand recognized worldwide.
The brewery itself was founded in 1971, mostly to provide beer to French colonists because the Laotians are not big beer drinkers. “Lao Brewery currently produces 200 million liters of beer a year, and it is the country’s biggest taxpayer.” That’s nearly 530 million gallons, making Lao Brewery slightly larger than New Belgium Brewing, but with a population of 6.5 million (which is about the same as Washington state).
The beer is now imported to the U.S. (along with Great Britain, Australia and Japan) and is, according to the journal, gaining momentum in grocery stores and other places. It’s interesting to see a small country using beer to try and build their global image, especially one with no long brewing tradition.
But check out their theme song on the website. It’s catchy even though I have no idea what they’re saying. You can even download a mp3 of it to put on your iPod.