High-ranking alco

I posted a pix of Barack Obama having a pint in an Irish pub last week on the Thirsty Blogger Facebook page.

However, there’s also a video out.

He’s pretty quick with his lines, and his booze. Within a minute, he’s almost half pint down. Good form.

Well, when ur the most powerful man in the world, u obviously cant be no lightweight (like that loser George Bush), and u better be able to drink hard!

The looks on the faces of the Irish officials - priceless

I wonder what the White House bar is like. Must be stacked. Couldnt find any info on it tho.

Would definitely be worth a raid.


GAB vs Carlsberg Malaysia

The Big Two are the players in the country’s beer industry (aka malt liquor market). And looks like Guinness Anchor Bhd (GAB) is pulling away from traditional leader Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd (CBMB). (The other small one is Napex, producer of Jaz lager and Starker ale.)

The beer battle is pretty hot

Surprisingly, to me at least, Carlsberg (the Green Label beer) is still the number one-selling brand of beer in Malaysia. They’re still doin ok in small towns n villages. Tiger (GAB) would be second. When it comes to stout, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (bottle/can) is definitely ahead of the other brand, Danish Royal Stout (CBMB), which is virtually unknown to the urban crowd.

And in draught, Guinness trashes Connors (CBMB). I dont even know why Connors is around. Nothing seems to have been done to market it, or even introduce it.

Tiger’s doin well here, with a growth rate of 20% a year. So is Heineken. Put together, these two GAB brands are outselling Carlsberg Green Label now.

(Graphic from Star Online)

But i gotta say i really like some of the beers Carlsberg Malaysia imports, especially Franziskaner and Konig Ludwig. Great stuff. These bottled beers are getting more common, and outlets are starting to have ’em on tap as well.

I foresee more Malaysians going for non-lager beers like these. When Hoegaarden was still being sold mostly in bottles and not draft a few years ago, i foresaw that it had potential to go mainstream. And it has in quite a big way, tho its highly over-priced. I did make such a suggestion to Carlsberg’s assistant brand manager at that time, and also said that the female market is a huge one that should be attacked via Hoegaarden.

No idea if i’ll be right bout these other brands. In my opinion, by far the only obstacle they face is the high pricing.

But after having lager virtually forced down our throats for years, it’s time for a breakout.

To be frank, i’m jelak with lager. Bored of it too.

This also affects where people like me hang out, coz GAB-aligned outlets cant sell Carlsberg Malaysia products, and vice-versa. Its silly, but dats d situation we as consumers face.

However, the new laws coming in effect in 2012 could change all this forever.

Unlike Carlsberg Malaysia, GAB is however banking too heavily on lager and stout. But I really hope there’ll be more variety in their range soon.

New players. With potential, i feel

I have always seen Carlsberg as ol skool. Not really in tune with young Malaysians. Pretty much non-existent in social media. (And the same dance track has been playing on their flash-heavy website for two years.)  However, with these new brands, i think CBMB is  making some headway with younger drinkers.

New brands that CBMB introduced over the past coupla years include Blackthorn (cider), Kronenbourg 1664 (lager), Tetley’s (bitter), Savannah (cider), Skol (lager), Asahi (lager), Leffe (ale), Franziskaner and Konig (weissbier aka wheatbeer) – all by CBMB or its subsidiary / importer / distributor Luen Heng Sdn Bhd.

GAB meanwhile came up with Strongbow (cider), Guinness Black (lager), Paulaner (weissbier) and the latest, Newcastle (brown ale).

There was an article in The Star today featuring their financial results and market share. GAB claims 59% of market share and is obviously ahead of Carlsberg, which is estimated to be at 41%. Carlsberg lost the lead five years ago. While it used to battle with Anchor a long time ago, it now faces Tiger (now a Singaporean brand, which is actually a Malayan brand as it began brewing in 1933, before Singapore was a country.)

Carlsberg has been diversifying

Personally i think GAB has done a much better and a more engaging job at marketing compared to CBMB. I foresee their market share increasing, and Tiger overtaking Carlsberg as the best-selling beer pretty soon. And once Carlsberg drinkers die-off in a coupla decades or so, as many of them are the older crowd, Tiger will probably dominate the scene. But there are many variables, including the fact that lager might not be the favoured beer in 20 years. Who knows.

GAB is doin real well

GAB posted a 47% increase in net profit to RM64.6mil from the same quarter a year ago. It’s the biggest first quarter it has ever produced in its history. Thanks mainly to its huge Oktoberfest campaign.

CBMB saw net profit climb 51.7% to RM30.5mil. Its profit was dominated by the performance of Carlsberg Singapore (CBMB acquired it in late 2009). Excluding Carlsberg Singapore, net profit grew 2%.

Both Charles Ireland (MD, GAB) and Soren Ravn (MD, CBMB) are against any excise duty/tax increase for awhile. Maybe they should talk to Alcon then on how best we should approach this issue. I feel all parties should cooperate for long-term advantage and mutual benefit.

GAB kicked ass since 2006 (graphic from Star Online)

Speaking of GAB, their St Patrick’s Festival this year will be KL, in Changkat Bukit Bintang at 6pm next week Thursday (17th). Details here. Might have been better to do it on Saturday evening. It’s a working day and they doin it downtown? Considering the possible traffic chaos, i dont know wattup with that.


Them foreign F&B staff

The invasion of foreigners in the F&B scene was limited to stalls, then creeped into restaurants. Unfortunately, they’re now being hired by bars and pubs.

(I actually wrote a feature article against this foreign takeover of Malaysia’s cooking & food in The Star a few years back, entitled  Fight for Your Food. And in June 2011, my ex-colleague did a similiar piece about service standards, where i gave my thoughts.)

Well, food quality has definitely dropped, especially at stalls. Foreigners are trying to cook Malaysian food, when fact is they have no connection with our great cuisine heritage.

I had a chat with a guy who’s been in the F&B scene for 15 years. He owns a restaurant-bar, and admits service standards have dropped all-round. He says it’s due to the hiring of foreigners.

Hell, we can tell that for ourselves.

Bars are being hit now

Now we’re getting freaks who dont even drink, trying to serve us drinks. How ridiculous is that? Sorry, whatever the justification, I would never trust a bartender who doesnt drink.

I mean, would you trust a chef that dont eat??


As usual, Malaysians get blamed for being “choosy” about their jobs. So? Watz wrong with that? Dont we all choose the jobs we want? Problem is, salaries have remained unreasonable for years.

Its not easy work, sacrificing your nights, and weekends, and new years, and Christmas, and etc on da job. Dealing daily with drunks. And pukers. And obnoxious pricks. And dont forget the bodies. After a few months/weeks, ur bound to think twice, and probably look elsewhere. Unless of course the money is good, which it isnt!

No one can be expected to accept 1,000-1,500 bucks and be content about it. Or give their UNDYING loyalty to the outlet. Bartenders should get at least 2k+ a month. Then u’ll attract some quality.

U pay peanuts, u’ll get monkeys.

That amount might be a fortune to foreigners, who are only here temporarily and normally dont have to pay for lodging, transport, etc, but its peanuts to Malaysians. Also many of these foreigner are without permits, meaning outlet owners can exploit them even more.

At a bar staffed by foreigners, try not to order anything complicated

Malaysian staff are more “difficult” coz sometimes they dont show up for work – sick, emergency leave, grandma died, etc. Of course foreigners wont do that, coz they’re desperate, and employers can feed on that desperation. Some employers dont even allow them days off.

Many have families back home who are struggling, and surviving on whatever little money these workers send back every month.

So they’re more ideal. More robot-like.

That’s definitely one advantage of hiring foreigners. Advantage to employers that is. Not to consumers.

Some of these guys dont even know what a goddam mojito is! Those places, i end up not goin again. What kind of training are they getting? What recipes do they know?

Many drink requests by a customer has the waiter/bartender reacting like the customer just dropped a fat rhyme in Martian. You gotta waste your own time n effort ‘training’ them about what you want.

Sometimes i just keep quiet, shake my head and ask them to call the manager, who thank God is usually a Malaysian. Being Asians, these foreigners are usually genuinely nice and good-hearted people (at least when they arrive here), but thats not d point.

Multi-award-winning former bartender and Barfight champ Mark ‘Maverick’Robert feels salaries are not keeping up with the times and trends. “U cant survive on 1k a month. That’s why u get MCs, no-shows, etc. A staff would jump to another job even for an extra 100 bucks a month. They’re desperate.”

“Also, u expect a foreigner to try n recommend to us local boyz what to drink?? Come on buddy!”

Are service standards at bars up to mark?

I dont blame these guys, being thrown into a situation they dont belong in. Its ok if the workers are sent for good F&B n hospitality training, but most employers wont do that.

I definitely have a lotta respect for bars that hire competent Malaysians. Salud to u guys! If they could do it before d foreign invasion and do well, they can sure do it now.

Though it inconveniences customers, as an employer, its more convenient and less of a hassle to hire foreigners, and they can have full staff-strength all d time.

But in my opinion, foreigners have to stay out of the drinking industry. They’re spoiling it for us Malaysians. There needs to be a major revamp in the industry. A college is needed to train Malaysians to be at least semi-professional F&B employees, with good career prospects and a decent salary.

Bottomline: As a consumer, all i know is service standards have never been worse.

In this day and age, that’s just embarrassing.


Barfight! Ben vs Mark

Barfight! is a column that features dudes / staff in the entertainment / F&B industry in Malaysia, or just regular alcos.

It’s a battle between two personalities. The winner is the one that’s most hardcore.

He/she will win bragging rights, and a bottle of my special strong cider, Baad Apples™ .

Today’s first barfight contender is Ben Ng, 26, a well-known professional mixologist who runs his own gig called Fluid Alchemy, whose services are used by most international alcohol brands for training, events and cocktail creations. I’ve had his stuff. Good shit.

He’s constantly working with various drinks brand such as Glenmorangie, Hennessy, Belvedere, Sagatiba, Cuervo, Boiron and a few others to develop their product & brand through trainings, masterclasses and other campaigns around Asia.

Feed me Ben!

He’s up against Mark ‘Maverick’ Robert, 35, who used to bartend all over the city. He won a national flaring competition years ago when i was one of the judges, and the reward was a trip to compete in Australia.

He was national flair champ twice! (Among other competition wins, including Southeast Asia champ.) He’s now the Operations Manager for Sids Pubs.

Good to go

Here we go. Points are out of 5.

Whats your favourite drink?

Ben: I’ve no particular favourite. I like variety so Guinness, Campari, Single Malts & Cognacs are on the to drink list whenever i go out – 3

Mark: Strongbow cider- 3

What do u drink on a regular basis?

Ben: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban – 3
Mark:  Strongbow cider – 3

How often do you drink, and how many drinks per session?

Ben: Depending on the company and occasion…usually I’ll do 2-4 drinks per session on weekdays and probably a tad bit more on the occasional partying night – 2
Mark: Quite regularly, and ’bout 8 pints of Strongbow Cider – 5

What drink would you give your gerl if she wanna get real high?

Ben: I usually like them sober!…but then again ‘shagging cocktails’ do come in handy! – 2. (Ok that’s a new one!)
Mark: Absinthe or Submarine (Drambuie & beer or tequila & beer ) – 4

What would you give an alco who wants to get smashed in a hurry?

Ben: A pint of Guinness, a shot of Wray & Nephew overproof rum and a double espresso to finish! It only takes no more than 2 minutes to prepare – 3
Mark: Half Tequila n half Sambuca – 3

What is your fave cocktail u’ve created, and what’s the recipe?

Ben: I did one with light rum, ginger flower, lime, pineapples and some mangoes. It reminds me of the abundance of local produce and reminds me of flavours from my childhood – 5
Mark: Sexy Eyes: 1oz vodka, 1/2oz Peach Schnapps, 1/2oz Malibu, 1/2oz Blue Curacao, 1oz pineapple juice, float 2oz orange juice – 4

Score is currently Ben 18, Mark 22. Pretty close.

What is your opinion about alcohol?

Ben: One of the most under-rated nation-building resource – 4
Mark: Soothing to the soul, body & mind and does get you lucky sometimes. Hahaha! – 4

What do u think of Night Train Express, and when’s the last time u had a large dose?

Ben: College student’s source of inspiration – 2
Mark: Night Train Express is the bomb! Last I had it was maybe a few years ago – 3

What’s the goddam nastiest drink you’ve had?

Ben: Haven’t really had anything that bad that i did call it nasty, but I did try a really unpleasant home made moonshine from East Malaysia – 1
Mark: Stout and toddy mixed – 2

Have u been involved in bar fights?

Ben: Nope! – 1
Mark: Yes a few times – 5

Your most drunk incident?

Ben: It’s beyond what i can recall – 2
Mark: Ran around naked at the bar – 5

Your most embarrassing incident?

Ben: Its embarassing enough not to reveal it here – 2
Mark: As above – 5

What do u have to say to Malaysian drinkers?

Ben: Take time to understand what you’re drinking and explore beyond the norm. You’ll find a whole new world of flavours that you never thought possible. And of course… yuuuuuuummmm sengg!! – 3
Mark: Drink responsibly and please be open to new cocktails or even new alcohol beverages – 2


OK fight’s over boys. Break it up!

Mark’s a dirty fighter

Mark whoops Ben’s ass. Totalled it. He’s obviously more rowdy, as he scored a few fives in ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Haha! Ben didnt do too well when he dissed Sarawakian booze.

Mark scores a good 48 points against Ben’s 33. Looks like u da man Maverick!

Salud boyz!

Depending on the company and occasion…usually I’ll do 2-4 drinks per session on weekdays and probably a tad bit more on the occasional partying night.

Related Posts with Thumbnails