Mongolian Beers

With its penchant for vodka, it’s easy to sometimes overlook the selection of beers that Mongolia has to offer. Granted, most commercial brands of beer, no matter where you are in the world, are not the greatest, I find that most expats dislike the brews of Asia. Mongolia doesn’t exactly have the best commercial brands available, nor is the microbrew or craft brew scene developed much, but it does have some beers that are drinkable and agreeable to one’s palette.

A wonderful selection of Mongolian beers.
A wonderful selection of Mongolian beers (Picture by Krista Mastel).

Note: Mongolian beers do not really come in sizes less than .45 liters (about 15 oz) for bottles, and most cans come in the “tall boy” variety of .50 liters (about 17 oz).

There are quite a few commercial brands, with new ones being introduced. This year, three new brands popped up on shelves: Soeyolj, Hurhree, and 89. In light of the newcomers, and the stigma facing stalwarts like Nisleel and Borgio, a few volunteers and I decided to conduct a blind tasting. There were 14 beers total. It should be noted that none of us are professional tasters.

The brands that I scored high were Jalam Khar, the aforementioned Soeyolj, Khar Khorum (the only real commercial dark available from Mongolia), and Gem (a microbrew hailing from UB). The microbrew scene here is very small: It’s mostly limited to the capital city. There are special brews at a couple of restaurants: Ix Mongol has its own homebrew that comes in both filtered and unfiltered varieties. MB has four variants to choose from: A hefeweizen, amber, dark, and lager, all of which are surprisingly good (I’m not a big fan of hefeweizens, but my hefeweizen-loving friends tell me it hits the spot). The Brauhaus, a child of the Modern Nomads restaurant chain, has an enjoyable pilsner that’s available at certain restaurants in the family.

Also, in the eternal struggle to rename everything after Chinggis Khaan, there came a bit of conflict between the Chinggis vodka and Chinggis beer (which is also quite enjoyable). No longer will Chinggis beer be known as Chinggis. As to what the new name is, I’m not entirely sure. Maybe poor Ogedei Khaan will finally get some love.

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