ONLINE BEER drinkers are in a froth after a law graduate was arrested for brewing and selling his own suds.
Thaopipop Limjitkorn, 28, was arrested over the weekend after Excise Department officials raided his three-storey shop house and found equipment for making craft beer.
The arrest has prompted an online campaign on Change.org for authorities to liberate craft-beer making. So far, the campaign has drawn more than 6,500 signatures in support.
Thaopipop said he loved beer so much that he invented his own formula for making flavourful craft beer. He decided to bottle it for sale after his friends said they loved the taste and were prepared to buy it.
His arrest has prompted netizens to cry foul, questioning why authorities protect industrial beer makers and pointing out that even tech gurus in Silicon Valley made their own beer.
A popular Facebook page, Plik Fuen Puen Paendin Thai, or “restoring Thailand”, said it was unfortunate that making craft beer was illegal in Thailand.
“Thailand is a nation with the second largest number of beer drinkers in Asean and the market value of beer sales is higher than Bt137 billion. It’s strange that the market share belongs to just a few firms.
“But don’t be surprised that our law does not allow anybody to make beer for self-consumption and sale. The law requires that anyone who wants to make beer for sale in shops must have at least Bt10 million registered capital and must make at least 100,000 litres of beer a month,” the page states.
Wanchai Tantiwitthayapitak, a well-known author, wondered why Thailand has only two major beer makers while some foreign countries have several brands and locally made craft beers.
“I have seen in several nations that making beer is a normal activity, not an illegal one,” Wanchai posted.
A senior official from the Excise Department said the current alcohol control law does not allow anyone to make alcoholic drink even for self-consumption, let alone for sale, without a licence.
The official, who cannot be named because of government regulations, said the alcohol control law that has been in use since 1950 had been amended, although the amendments actually imposed harsher penalties.