About Deep

Alco blogger, ex-lifestyle/F&B writer for The Star

Beer prices raised. Again.

That’s right. Heineken Malaysia Bhd (HMB) has increased (as of Sunday Apr 15) the prices of their products significantly. We at The Locker & Loft were notified about it a few weeks ago.

A keg of Tiger that used to be RM658 is now RM696, while Guinness, also at RM658 is now RM710. Pretty big jump. But if you ask me, prices should come down instead, as the currency issue has improved.

As usual, no reason was given for the increase. I guess we’re all expected to just swallow it quietly, while it dampens consumer sentiment.

(Refer to The Real Cost of Booze for further reading on the BS that some bars get up to)

Dampening the party?

Dampening the party?

Which brings me to another point. Do you know that breweries charge their clients more for beers when we buy in kegs, ie in bulk?

You can buy one Tiger at a supermarket (duty-paid & legit) for about RM6, sometimes less. This is for an individually-packaged product, which is obviously costlier to produce and stock and transport and recycle. However although we receive our beers in REFILLABLE 30-liter kegs (that we pay a significant deposit for, and we also have to pay for the gas for the beers and their deposits), they charge us more for each beer.

The arrival cost at an outlet for one Tiger (excluding CO2 purchase) is RM7.73, so closer to 8 bucks (excluding all overheads). A supermart probably gets it at RM4+.

This is perverse. When u buy a product that’s sold in 330ml packaging vs 30,000ml packaging, the individual cost for the bulk item should be a LOT lower. If a supermart gets their individually-wrapped beer for RM4, bars should be getting them at below RM4 when refilled into our kegs.

Not RM8. Not by a long shot. Sounds like some profiteering might be goin on.

Beer. Losing its fun?

Beer. Losing its fun?

Breweries cover this by providing (lending, actually) the kegging system and giving monetary incentive to hit ”sales targets” in the contract. I dont think its the job of an outlet to hit a brewery’s sales target. That’s not our role. That is the job of their sales and marketing departments.

The brewery is basically penalizing and rewarding. They penalize bars by over-charging, and reward with the incentive. It seems ridiculous.

When i asked the HMB sales guy about all this, he couldnt answer. (HMB is not known to have the best Sales Dept. An open secret in the industry.).

At a time when many interesting bars are popping up and somewhat rejuvenating the beer scene by selling the drink at very affordable rates, the brewery goes in the other direction. It’s very disappointing. It could reduce consumption significantly. I doubt reasonably-priced outlets (who are already making very thin margins) will be able to absorb the increase.

Maybe HMB prefers quick margins over volume.

Breweries dont seem to have any sort of cooperation or understanding with their clients (outlets) and their consumers (drinkers).

There was no consultation by HMB with the industry about the increase as far as i know. In fact, i doubt there has ever been any two-way conversation about anything regarding the future of the beer industry.

With joints like Uncle Don’s, Brewhouse and their like offering Carlsberg beers at about RM10 a glass all night with many customers, there’s a possibility that HMB’s market share will soon be dented if such outlets expand.

But the problem with having a duopoly is that both breweries seem to collude by raising prices at the same time. This practice has now been made a crime.

Or they’d still be doing it.

I guess it’s back to more house parties with untaxed beers then.

Other options

Other options

Did you know that the breweries are unfortunately partly to blame for the increase in tax for certain spirits last year? As the founder of Alcon, i intermittently dealt with the breweries as i battled the authorities on the high alcohol tax issue. I was surprised with their approach.

The breweries were for years pushing the government to tax alcohol according to the strength of the alcohol. So higher alcohol, higher tax. The government finally listened last year. Thus high alcohol spirits like absinthe, some gins and rums had their taxes increased, and hence prices.

But that has now bit them in the ass. The breweries have resorted to lowering the alcohol in many of their own products to lower their own alcohol taxes, compromising their brands.

This has been done rather low key as well so as not to inform their consumers.

The legendary Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is a legend no more. It’s a watered-down wannabe. From 8% to 6.8% to 5.5%, a shadow of its former bulldog self. To do that to such an iconic drink seems like a disrespect to the brand, and this might eventually backfire in the long term. Either way I reckon it’s time to remove the word ”Extra” from its name.

Maybe Guinness Draught has been watered down as well, who knows. It was already at 4.2% before.

Anchor Beer is now 4%. Haha! Most consumers dont know that.

I assume it was done to save them a few bucks. In fact the breweries hardly do anything exciting anymore for outlets or consumers. Same ol same ol.

Financially however both corporations did pretty well last year. Carlsberg Malaysia’s net profit was RM221 million while HMB’s net profit was RM270 million.

They might have pleased their shareholders, but they’re possibly pissing a lot of others off.

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Brooklyn Beers in town

Carlsberg Malaysia has launched two new foreign beers, in its bid to get some action from the somewhat niche craft beer scene. A lil late to the game i gotta say, with two options – the amber lager and IPA, from Brooklyn Brewery, NY. Both are unique in their own way.

The launch took place at TREC

The launch took place at TREC

20171214_193036The first (5.2%) is definitely flavoursome for a lager. It’s basically a Viennese-style beer that uses the British dry-hopping method (steeping the beer with fresh hops as it undergoes a long, cold maturation). Suggested eats are pizzas, burgers n Mexican food.

The new pair

The new pair

The East IPA is not a bitch-slap that many others give you. It doesnt have the usual aroma of marijuana buds (hops are from the marijuana family). Nevertheless it contains six strains of hops. It’s milder in taste and easy on the bitterness (the IBU is 40).

It weighs in at a respected 6.9%. I could drink it all night without getting bored or jelak with the flavour. Best with spicy food.

Great bites with the beers

Great bites with the beers

It comes in 355ml bottles. With the probable high price point of up to RM40 or so at outlets, it’s gonna be a challenge to go against the tons of craft beers that we have here, which are mostly lower-priced and well-known.

20171214_193139Booklyn Brewery is currently ranking #11 in volume among United States craft breweries. It produces award-winning beers that are available in more than 30 countries.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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Mixtealogy anyone??

It’s extremely rare for me to get an invitation to a non-alcoholic drink event. It’s even rarer for me to accept! However, i was kinda intrigued by this one called Mixtealogy.

?

It’s basically a colab between Monin syrups (often used by bartenders for cocktails) and Lipton Tea to create new drink recipes using the various flavours that both brands have in their portfolio.

Monin has a range of 175 flavours including gourmet sauces, fruit purees and frappe powder. Lipton has quite a few too, including the premium Sir Thomas J Lipton range.

Not huge fan of mint drinks but this was one of my faves

Not huge fan of mint drinks but this was one of my faves

Am glad i attended, as many of the drinks that were created are really good, even the simple ones.

Guests had several options when it came to drinks – you could either pour yourself from the ‘draught’ taps, or order a specialty one from the mixologists at the bar.

For the latter, you have an order card where you tick off various flavours as well as the ‘feel’ that you would like your tea mocktail to have.

Bartenders were recruited for this event

Bartenders were recruited for this event

IMG_9094

?

 

IMG_9236 (2)?

In fact this even inspired me and the bartenders at The Locker & Loft to come up with our own tea cocktail, blending green tea and cucumber juice, and it’s gooood.

Lipton Green Tea-infused gin, Midori, cucumber juice, lemon juice, sugar & Angostura Bitters. Refereshing and well-balanced

Japanese Squeeze – Sir Thomas J Lipton Green Tea-infused gin, Midori, cucumber juice, lemon juice, sugar & Angostura Bitters. Refreshing and well-balanced

I guess what this event is aiming to do is show the versatility of one of the world’s oldest beverage, tea. You could really mess with tea, more so than coffee i think. Even without booze.

 

Brain damage: 0/10

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A very special Singleton dinner

Gosh, don’t really remember the last time i was up at Genting Highlands. I guess am more of a Fraser’s Hill kinda dude… BBQ, beers, butterflies….

However took a drive up the mountain recently for an superb meal with The Singleton of Glen Ord, a single malt Scotch from the Glen Ord Distillery in Speyside.

The kick-off drink. Glen Sour (Singleton 12, lemon juice, maraschino cherry, gula melaka, dark walnut bitters, orange peel oils and egg white)

The kick-off drink, by talented bartender Erlwin, Glen Sour (Singleton 12, Maraschino cherry, lemon juice, gula melaka, dark walnut bitters, orange peel oils and egg white). Tastes gooood

The Trophy Malt Dinner is to showcase some of their exceptional whiskies with equally exceptional food, this time prepared by Chef Steven Chou, at the really cool restaurant with an alluring outdoor terrace, The Olive.

Perfect set-up

Perfect set-up

The theme was the Forgotten Drop Series, which is an annual release drawn from the brand’s rarest and most precious whiskies. The series are whiskies re-discovered from a few extremely rare casks

This year, the annual release is The Singleton of Glen Ord 41 Year Old, with a limited 600 bottles made available worldwide, and only 24 bottles in Malaysia, retailing at RM 15,193 per bottle. Yup. High-roller stuff. (Make it 23 bottles after our dinner.)

Fortunately it’s bottled at cask strength with 49.9% ABV to allow drinkers to experience the original character of this rare batch of old casks. This creates a very special dram with a fine balance and smoothness, alongside rich tropical fruit aromas and hints of oak.

The goods

The goods

Chef Steven doin his thing

Chef Steven doin his thing before main course

No surprises with the food - awesome

No surprises with the food – awesome

Ervin Trykowski, the first Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador for The Singleton,

Singleton’s Global Whisky Ambassador Ervin Trykowski gettin down n dirty with the crowd

The crowd

The crowd

The other crowd. We didn't destroy all tho

The other crowd. We didn’t destroy all tho

Also launched was the 18 Year Old Cask Strength, which is a limited-edition bottling to celebrate the distillery’s 180th anniversary. It is bottled at a major firepower of 58.4% ABV, with honeyed sweetness with rich fruity notes. This whisky is only made available in selected markets with a starting price from RM 624.

Bartender Erwlin is actually someone i met 15 years ago in Sarawak, when he was a kid. Grown up to be a cool man

Bartender Erlwin is actually someone i met 15 years ago in Sarawak, when he was a kid. Grown up to be a cool man. He’s based up there

After-party venue

After-party venue

After the superb session we marched on to some bar for more. Fortunately only required walking. And after, the hotel was close enough to require only required crawling if needed.

Brain damage: 8/10

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