Since a recent trip to Sihanoukville I’ve been meaning to review Five Men Fresh Beer, but was recently reminded now that they’ve started importing their beer to Phnom Penh. But it’s the Sihanoukville brewery itself that I’m concerning myself with, because it’s a gigantic beer hall that serves flavorful Cambodian dishes meant to compliment the glasses and glasses (and glasses and glasses) of ice-cold, ridiculously cheap beer.
The cavernous brewery doubles as a beer hall and restaurant, with room to seat more than a hundred and several giant copper brew tanks off to the side. Despite the fact that it’s got an airport hanger vibe, it’s popular with all manner of locals, expats, and tourists. The menu offers a wide range of typical Cambodian BBQ-style dishes, like salty and delicious fried corn kernels cooked with dried shrimp, sweet char-grilled pork ribs, spicy mango salad, braised river fish and staples like fried rice. Servings are large and the prices are low — most mains cost $3.75, making it easily possible to have a meal and a dozen beers for less than $10 dollars.
The Cambodian owner of the place previously worked for Angkor and Cambodia Beer, and was trained in Germany as a brewmaster before starting Five Men Fresh Beer. He seems to have ignored some of his training, though. His offerings have been billed by some as craft beer, but it’s certainly no IPA. Similar to Vietnamese bia hoi, it’s named “fresh beer” for a reason. It’s not aged, and is served directly out of the tank without a secondary fermentation. This has some expat beer lovers in a lather, but if you’re satisfied with the other local offerings, including Cambodia, Anchor, or Angkor, you won’t have any problems with what they’re serving at Five Men Fresh Beer.
You can order two types of beer, a German-style lager or stout (ordered as white or black). The beer is served in iced glasses, so you can hardly taste them on a hot day, or notice how quickly they disappear. You don’t need to concern yourself with that, though, as the staff keep track of how many you’ve ordered by stacking an ever-growing pile of plastic coasters on your table, a grim reminder of the headache ahead. Or perhaps not! While they claim the lager ($0.50) is 4.5% and the stout ($0.75) is 6%, all evidence suggests that both are in the 3-4% range. True beer aficionados may turn their noses up at the stuff, but your faithful servant thought it was just fine. Paired with the savory, inexpensive food, Five Men Fresh Beer makes for a fun night out in Sihanoukville.
Five Men Fresh Beer
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
19 Mithona Street, Krom 16, Phnom 2, Sangkat 3, Sihanoukville [map]
T: 012 913 346; 015 998 896