Craft Beer 101 – The Class You Wish You Took At University
Welcome to Craft Beer 101.
Thanks to the rising popularity of craft beers, more Malaysians are starting to break out from mainstream brands to try new flavours and types of brews.
Today's lesson comes courtesy of Alvin Lim, the co-founder of MyBeer, Malaysia's largest craft beer distributor, and Taps Beer Bar.
This comes in anticipation for the 6th edition of The Better Beer Festival, run by Alvin and his team, which will debut from October 6 to 7 at Publika (more on this later).
Let's begin with the obvious.
What is craft beer?
Craft beer is made by small breweries, or microbreweries. It has come to a point in time where people are getting bored of the norm, much like the coffee and cocktails scene. In other countries, a lot of these microbreweries started when the brewers were young and found out that they were good at it. They start applying for licenses and made craft beer for their local brew pub.
Why craft beer?
It is a much more superior product because you can get any kind of flavour profile. Drinkers sometimes feel that what is out in the market is too sweet, gassy or bitter for their tastebuds. Craft beer covers everything. It can be bitter, it can be spicy and there's such a wide range of types. You can put ginger, chilli or bacon into craft beer, there's no limit to what you can create.
How much variety are we talking about here?
The US alone has over 4500 microbreweries with each brewery having at least 80 different beers on average, including seasonal varieties. And that's not including Japan, the UK, Vietnam, Denmark, Singapore and more! Even if you drink one unique beer every day for the rest of your life, you will never be able to drink every type.
What are the most common types of craft beer? How do we make sense of it?
Beer is divided into two parts – lager and ales. Microbreweries usually focus on ales and have one or two lager or pilsner options because of variety. When it comes to ales, you've got:
What's the craft beer scene in Malaysia like?
We are pretty far behind in the world. I think our closest competitor is Myanmar and they just opened their market to beers. With that being said, it all starts with education and that's lacking here. Right now, most Malaysians think that craft beer is imported and that's it. They don't know what craft beer actually is or the value of it.
Why do you think this is the case?
The most important thing about craft beer is having a local brand to feel that sense of connection. Unfortunately, that can't be the case here. In other countries that are able to brew beer, the relationship between drinker and craft beer starts at their local brew pub, where drinkers are able to try different types and form brand loyalty. That's the missing link for Malaysia.