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Beer Reviews

Two From Thailand's Samata Brewing: Raspberry Cheesecake Sour & Fruity Party Sour


Samata Brewing, which comes from Thailand, has definitely been making waves in the local craft beer scene - more than a handful of folks have told me that I needed to try it, and so I got two of Samata's very popular Sours to see what's up. While the cuckoo brewer started out with IPAs, its moved towards pastry Sours because its given more liberty to showcase local Thai specialty ingredients - so I couldn't find any IPAs this time round, but I'll keep a look out for them.

But first, as always, we need to talk about Samata.


| Read: Behind the Label with... Samata - A really solid interview with Chote himself, by Craig Sauers who runs a fantastic Thailand craft beer focused newsletter Critical Drinking.


Samata Brewing was started by Superchote Chantanasuksilpa, but you can probably just call him Chote. Chote was a graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco, US, and had spent quite a number of years in design before getting into brewing. He's got his fingerprints on everything from Tony Jaa cinematic action features (a popular local martial artist / actor) to iTunes ads. Ultimately, he wanted to try his hand at craft brewing because he had wanted a new medium for his designs. This was sometime back in 2018.

Since then I've been told that Samata has been one of the more consistent brews that's filled the fridges of craft beer shops and bars around Bangkok. As of May 2024, Chote has made some 180+ expressions - quite a whopping number especially considering that for some time Chote had to shuffle between Singapore and Thailand, as he had tapped on well-regarded Singaporean craft brewery Brewlander to produce his beers which are then exported to Thailand (as Thai laws make it more economical and feasible to produce overseas than domestically).


Samata's pale ale era. (Image Source: @drinkingtour on Instagram)


With time Samata came to be known for producing solid hazy pale ales and IPAs, but over time Chote came to be increasingly taken by a new style of beer that was becoming popular in Thailand - Sours. This even saw a shift in his label designs - from typographic and new age precision, to softer, more fantastical, colourful expressions that befitted the new beer style Chote was starting to produce.

Another added benefit to producing Sours was that as it did not include the use of hops, Chote was able to obtain a more lax license that put his brewery in the same category as cider or mead making. This allowed Chote to domestically produce and significantly ramp up his beer making - and is also why it is far easier to find Samata's Sours than it is their pale ales (not entirely sure if they're even still being produced!). This is on top of allowing Chote a greater inside canvas where his beers have more leeway for creativity in the incorporation of fresh Thai ingredients - it almost seems like all roads leads to Sours for Chote.


Samata's in its Sours era.


As mentioned earlier, it seemed befitting that if Samata was to focus on a different style of beer making, its labels should probably reflect what customers should expect inside, whilst still being recognisably Samata. To that end, Chote enlisted the help of several Thai artists who had helped to produce Samata's new signature look - giving many of his Sours a character personification.

And with all that said, it's time to give two of Samata's Sours a go!

Let's get to it! Onward!

Samata Brewing Raspberry Cheesecake Sour, 4% ABV - Review

"We meld the sweetness of raspberries with the creamy richness of cheesecake and a sour lemony undertone. Dessert-like, and refreshing."


Tasting Notes

Colour: Strawberry Smoothie

Aroma: Light hits of strawberry tartness with a gentle lemon cheesecake base.

Taste: Fully loaded, thick blended up strawberry smoothie topped on a soft lush base of cream - creamy yet not quite tasting of cream per se, yet does hold the strawberry’s acidity at bay. It’s not as tart as the aromas suggest. More on lemon curd cheesecake. Still its sweet but not as sweet as anticipated (or braced for), with a nice balanced sourness of the sour. It’s lightly fizzy, and is without the overly sugary icing sugar that sometimes comes with these pastry sours.

Finish: Light strawberry hard candy and more of that strawberry whipped into cream. Light tartness, clean finish.


My Thoughts

Big flavours here, it’s pretty much what you expect it to be - lots of blended up strawberry smoothie topped on a light lemon curd cheesecake. It’s simple, tasty and uncomplicated - but where it really shines is how rich it is and at the same time balanced. 

These days many pastry sours are more pastry than sour, but here you get a nice equilibrium between the two to remind you that it is ultimately a pastry weaved into a sour. I also like how it doesn’t have any of those artificial confectionary or sugar laden qualities that can be cloying - here it’s all balanced really well with the raspberry smoothie. It’s quite tangy but that acidity is itself held in check by the cream, so really quite a stellar work done here.

Beautifully rich and vibrant raspberry / strawberry flavours, good balance between sweetness and sourness, feels really natural and fresh, all’s good with this one (other than my can popping).

Samata Brewing Fruity Party Sour, 4% ABV - Review

"This fruited sour blended with a tremendous amount of passion fruit, strawberry, pineapple, Pink guava, and a touch of vanilla."


Tasting Notes

Color: Raw Honey

Aroma: Tangy honey lemon candy, it’s quite herbal too. More on honey lemon drink with dashes of herbal cough syrup (Lemsip?). Some F&N orange cordial syrup, orange candy and orange marmalade too. The herbal bit grows over time.

Taste: It’s giving rich, it’s giving full bodied! More of those orange marmalade and orange vitamin C drinks, herbal cough syrup, orange jello mixture before it jellifies. There’s a light hit of acidity, and also this very peculiar side of tomato juice and pink guava juice.

Finish: Some clove and anise spices here, tomato juice. Is this a Bloody Mary I’m having? Some hawthorn candy too.


My Thoughts

Eccentric would probably best describe Samara’s Fruity Party - it does have a lot of citrus fruits but rather than fresh or actual citrus fruits, it’s more along the lines of citrus flavoured treats - candy, marmalade, jello, cordial - so it’s much more concentrated and sticky, yet surprisingly it’s okay. It’s got the richness and body to make it work. Also this peculiar herbal quality that’s all about, definitely present but not much thoughts on that.

But the real party for me was on the palate - it took me quite some time to put my finger on it, but then someone I was sharing this with commented tomato juice - and bingo! It was spot on. I can’t claim credit for that, but yes it has this acidity and twang of PET bottled tomato juice, and also something along the lines of pink guava cordial.

The party continues… on the finish a bunch of spices show up, which sort of combines with the tomato juice to become something awfully similar to a Bloody Mary - you must’ve noticed by now, that since I was on the palate, I’ve hardly mentioned the citruses. And it really is the case that everything else that’s come along has been so much more attention grabbing that I’ve just completely forgotten those citruses.

Now, do I like this? It’s really drinkable, good body, at times it tastes like the sort of home remedy you drink when you’ve got a cold, so it’s got a sort of medicinal vibe about it, but then as you get to the taste, it’s just got all these more peculiar vegetal acidity of sorts, and that whole Bloody Mary thing - I’m undecided. I did finish my half of the can, I will say that. I can’t tell if I’ve been wrangled into submission by it, and have simply surrendered, or that I can’t face up to the fact that maybe I actually kind of like it. Regardless - it’s going to be divisive. You either like it or don’t, or think you might not like it but actually do.