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.


Captain Morgan goes white

The ol’ captain, legendary for its dark and spiced rums, is gonna hit the white rum market. And about time if u ask me.

Did u? Ask me i mean?

Either way, I’m telling. According to Diageo, its new Captain Morgan rum is produced in the American Virgin Islands and is “five-times distilled, clean, slightly sweet and creamy”.

It actually does over a year in oak barrels, but not long enough for a change in colour.

One of my fave rums is the Captain Morgan Black Label, which is a dark rum with blends from Jamaica, Guyana & Barbados.



White rums have their uses of course, as they’re the base for various cocktails. U dont wanna be making Strawberry Daiquiris with an aged rum.

They plan to  focus on Caribbean-inspired cocktail recipes with this baby.

It’s gonna take Bacardi head-on. This was just launched in the US, where Captain Morgan’s growth is in double digits. It’s now the no 3 spirits brand there.

Arrr, capt’n, ya done well matey!


Damn bar bands

Yea, most of ’em blow, at least as far as their repertoire goes.

It’s kinda crappy that most of them only know how to play 80s shit. Specifically, 80s rock.

(Never understood why people refer to them as live bands. As opposed to what, dead bands? If they there, of course they live. They can’t be streaming right?)

They seem like they stuck in a time warp, not realizing we’re deep into the 21st Century. They wanna play same ol’ 70s n 80s covers, fine, but what about the 90s and Noughties? Too complicated to play? Too lazy to learn? Fuck is dat about?

Can’t handle Radiohead, Coldplay or Red Hot Chili Peppers? If a repeater band / bar band can’t play a classic like Give It Away, they shouldn’t call themselves a rock band, and get the fuck off the stage.

Dave Matthews Band? Fuggedaboutit. Pearl Jam? The Verve? Haha! You gotta be kidding me.

Next time u find yourself being force-fed a dose of same ol, request a track from any of the above groups.  And see what the band says!

Maybe we shd start a Play Something Recent! campaign. They need to get out of their toxic nostalgic fog.

Maybe the vocals, and higher sophistication in 90s music is too difficult to handle.

If a cover band claims it plays classic rock, then it should play 90s rock too, coz dats how long ago the 90s was – two decades now.

Hotel Fuckin California. I swear, dats the most-played song on this planet. Hell, maybe other planets too.

Most of these bands seem to have gone deaf around 1989.

Request for Snow Patrol and you’ll probably get served some cocktail. Haha

To restrict music to one genre (ie rock) is bad enough, but to time-limit within the genre? Too much. Any0ne who know of any options, would love to hear from u.

Creativity. I love it, but i think that’s what’s missing in da scene.

Bar owners share the blame. Maybe coz many of them are uncles themselves. I doubt they even hire music consultants pre-opening. It’s more like, “Hey u know any band?”

“Yea sure, can be arranged.”

“Can play Hotel California?”


“OK deal!”

I’ve seen mafuckers performing with mullets man! Mullets.

Bars need differentiation

Bars need differentiation, not same ol’

The OTHER thing that pisses me off about band music is the fuckin volume. Wattup with dat?

What’s wrong with medium volume for ALL tunes? Why dafuck does the band music need to be on full volume?? The band members might be deaf, but the customers sure aren’t.

There’s really no justification for it. (In fact, i have written a piece here before about how the music (and lighting, and bar furniture) affects people’s drinking speed.)

I mean, there’s no consistency. The regular bar music might be hardly audible (which is usually better than the band’s music), but the band one is waaay too high. High. Low. High. Low. How bout some damn balance? Outlets should increase the bar music, and lower the band’s volume.

Bar bands are meant to be playing in the background. Definitely not the main attraction. Unless it’s a superstar band doin a gig. Even that doesn’t deserve FULL volume, right?

Maybe the bands’ fat egos demand max volumes, i dont know.

The break between sets are sometimes a real relief to the customer. Conversations and drink orders can be audible again. People can mingle.

A band with a difference

A band with a difference

Bar owners need to grow some balls and break away from these dumb traditions. Even once a week on a Friday night would be nice. For a change.

Unless they dont want younger customers, in which case, their establishment might die a slow, natural death.

The Rollin’ Sixers (now-defunct) was an awesome Malaysian band that lit up many bars. Blues rock n shit. And boyz like Blister and Hydra are adventurous. Respect.

Maybe its clueless bar owners, maybe incapable bands, maybe stupid tradition, maybe a mix of all.

I think what pisses me off is that two decades of awesome, solid music has been ignored. Like it never happened.

Dats booshit, man.

They been getting away with crap for way too long.

Maybe bar owners and bar bands haven’t noticed yet, but the alco uncles that they have been repeating the same tunes over and over to for 30+ years, are dying off. It’s time to dust off and update the fuckin playlist already.

Sickodat shit.


Why cocktail bars fail

I’ve seen ’em come, I’ve seen ’em go. And go…ooze.

Cocktail bars in KL tend not to do too well, tho they start pretty ambitious. I have several explanations for this. (U can also read this post about my observations on how bars can make customers consume more.)

The main one is the pricing system in this country. On top of the govt tax, bars and clubs mark-up their drinks 100% easy, and many even mark-up 200%! And that’s just for regular booze.

Cocktails? Probably 300%.

Why mark-up so highly? Because they do. And anyway you’d probably blame the government for the high prices.

(If they use cheap-shit alcohol, mark up is 1000+ %)

Cocktail culture? Not yet. Maybe not ever

Hence, people prefer to buy bottles of spirits – more bang for your buck. Higher ROI. If everybody bought individual drinks all their lives, all drinkers wd be broke by now. Cocktails? Double-broke.

So we’re so used to keeping things simple – a bottle of whisky, a pitcher of Coke or water. Done deal. Vodka? Orange or cranberry. That’s as complicated as the cocktails get for the general population.

Cocktail orders tend to be limited to sangria, margarita, mojito

Another major factor is the local F&B industry have really fucked things up. Many bars are stingy, and instead of using regular spirits in their cocktails, they use cheap-ass moonshine from Klang, meaning the cocktails taste like cock. Malaysian have gotten used to crap cocktails because of this, and so are not into it anymore. Besides shit taste, u could earn yorself a good hangover.

So-called popular bars do this too, so better check next time ur there. And many bars also use crap mixers, even if they use premium spirits. What’s the point?

U wanna pay 20-30 bucks for a piece of shit?

As for me, even tho i’m all over the  goddam place, i’ve  rarely come across really good-tasting cocktails, even by good bartenders using good shit. 80% are unbalanced and not smooth. Most are too sour, many are too sweet. One sip may be fine, but then finishing the whole glass is a different story. It can be a struggle!

What a waste of alcohol. And a waste of hard-earned money.

I think these bartenders need to drink their own cocktails a lot more, and not dip a skinny-ass straw into it and have a tiny sample. Of course most cocktails taste fine like that. Drink the whole glass. Or three.

Some bars even hire clueless foreigners! But i’ve already talked about this before.

I usually reserve cocktail-making for my house parties or travel or my blog parties.

Yea baby!

I’ve done a better job than some of these guys if i say so myself, with my Kelapa Rock (coconut water-based cocktail) and Brown Brown (Milo-ais based cocktail), among others. Easy, tasty.

At the moment, the better-known cocktail bars are View Bar, 21 and Tate. Be prepared to pay high prices.

One of the longest-living and coolest cocktail lounge was Chill. It was real smooth. Great cocktails, reasonable prices, great chilled Ibiza and Hed Kandi tunes in the afternoon/evening (and soul/funk house later at night, courtesy of DJ me!), funky decor, cool guys, and hot chicks. It had a good four-year run, but was ahead of its time.

Like dumb blondes, some only LOOK good

I look forward to cocktail bars for mainstream drinkers, with good mixers, normal-standard spirits, reasonable prices, balanced-tasting drinks, cool decor, and innovative bartenders. O yea, solid tunes too.

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