Bintang: The beer of Indonesia

Every red blooded man who comes to Bali (plus a few Sheila’s), likes to get hold of a cold Bintang beer. Usually it happen about 5 minutes after checking into the hotel and 10 minutes before jumping into the pool. Bintang is a pilsner (clear, bottom fermented lager beer), which makes it ideal for those steamy Bali afternoons (some Seminyak expats like it on steamy Bali mornings, but that’s another matter).

Bintang means ‘star’ in Indonesian, but the origins of Bier Bintang are in Holland. Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony, with the focus of attention being Java. Here’s what the official website says: “The history of PT Multi Bintang Indonesia Tbk. (MBI) dates back to 1929 when the company was founded under the name of NV Nederlandsch Indische Bierbrouwerijen. The first brand of the company was Java Bier.

In 1936 Heineken became the major shareholder and the company name changed into Heineken Nederlandsch-Indische Brouwerij Maatschappij. In 1937 the company introduced Heineken beer for the first time on the Indonesian market.

During the Second World-war the company ceased the production of Heineken beer. In 1947 Heineken was introduced on the Indonesian market for the 2nd time.

During the years of Indonesia’s Guided Democracy (1957-1965), Heineken stopped being technical advisor and prohibited the use of the Heineken brand-name. Heineken beer was changed in Bir Bintang and the company-name changed into Perusahaan Bir Bintang. The label changed step by step from Heineken to Bintang.

In 1967 Heineken resumed the activities in Indonesia and – thanks to the renewed technical assistance of the Heineken company – the quality of the beer was again brought up to the international standards. Bir Bintang was relaunched under the name Bintang Baru.

In 2006 the latest label change took place to rejuvenate the Bir Bintang brand.”




Can you believe it, when Miguel Covarrubias (Island Of Bali) landed in Bali in 1936, there was cold beer waiting for him! In the last few months, Bintang has shaken the jar once more, introducing a new label. Some of the old fogies here in Bali, the 50 year old, Marlboro smoking, “I was here in 1970” brigade, almost fell off their bamboo stools. Give me civil war, give me tsunami’s, give me volcanic eruptions, but don’t change the label on my beer bottle!

Where can you buy Bintang?
Almost everywhere. Supermarkets, Circle K’s, convenience stores, bars and restaurants, all serve Bintang.

Where can’t you buy Bintang?
In Muslim places like small warungs and Padang food places. The price of Bintang, while cheap for westerners, is still relatively high for locals. In places like Negara, you will find it hard to get a Bintang. Also in villages it will be served warm.

Where can you drink Bintang?
Anywhere you like, except in a temple / mosque / church.

Who can buy Bintang?
Anyone. In Bali the attitude towards drinking / sex / driving, is ‘when you are old enough, you can do it’. There is no drinking age, no ID required.

Where is the best place to drink a Bintang?
That’s arguable, but a few of my favourites include Lanai (formerly Benny’s) on Blue Ocean beach in Seminyak at sunset. Grabbing a cold one in the middle of a steamy afternoon can be refreshing, as can lounging in a hammock in East Bali.

What can you drink with a Bintang?
Bintang isn’t a particularly distinctive beer. Its decent, especially when served ice-cold. You can drink it by itself, with peanuts, as are often served in Bali, with pedas (spicy) Indonesian food, or at a bbq.

How much does a Bintang cost?
A small Bintang cost around 6,000rp at Circle K, a large 12,000rp.

What alcohol content is Bintang?
Bintang is 5%. A light beer.

Selamat minum.