Saturday, June 7, 2014

WEEK 10--the hands behind the local craft movement-Taps Beer Bar KL

本地搞CRAFT BEER生意的不多,开店卖撞意啤酒的,目前也就那么两家。


如果你是刚发现本地有CRAFT 喝,很好,你已经知道哪里有的喝了。

下期会有另一家小小BOTTLE SHOP的介绍。

This week and next is all about the people & business operators in the local craft beer movement here in KL.

here's the almost full text of this week's column:-

Craft beer has only been around for 3-4 years here in KL.

The scenario is that--not many locals appreciate or know how to appreciate craft beers. To invest energy, time and money into the business of selling craft beer? even lesser, simply because this is not a business that would bring in fast/big money.

Fortunately, there's still some people who believe that the local craft beer market would eventually grow and invested.
There's only two craft beer dedicated places for now--1 is a tiny bottle shop( ales & lagers)--1 is a sizeable beer bar--Taps beer bar KL( with another new bar opening in June at One MK)

The reason+motivation for starting Taps is very simple--there's distinct lack of choices, no good beers in the local market. Hence the thought of opening a 100% craft beer dedicated bar.

Now close to third year in operation, what are some notable changes? 
One of 5 cousins owners of Taps--Alvin Lim "Its very very far from what we imagined it to be. We are growing but too slowly. Singapore market is ahead of us by 5-8 years...."

(Dearest Malaysians, while we are always proud of our food, and at times proudly telling that to our Singaporean friends. What is obvious is that we are lagging behind when it comes to selecting beers. We have always thought that factory beers are the whole and only truth about beers. Well, it's a bit like a foreigner who have only tasted chilled Thai durian and ask...."what so special about Malaysian durians? is it not the same? is it not just the same one taste?)
*for the uninitiated---here's a little Swede story about durians--enjoy----

The first year of operation, a hard year?
Alvin"Yes of course. The first year was a struggle because people thought we were crazy and no one wanted to give it a try. Thanks to a lot of our friends who tried to spread the word and invite people to the bar to try craft beers."

Any positive changes?
ALvin"the demographics of craft beer drinkers. It used to be 95% expatriates but now I dare to say its almost 50/50. 

"3 years ago nobody knew what craft beer was and today maybe 1 out of 20 drinkers will know. So its growing but very slowly."

"Also, we have seen a small growth of women craft beer drinkers.These are women who hated beer because it had a weird taste but after having some craft beer , their perception changed."

Operating a business where the market is still immature is not easy...
Alvin"The challenges that we face every day is trying to convince people that it’s not much more expensive than then mass produced beers. I think it’s about brand familiarity.  People in general won’t buy something that they are not familiar with."
(on the surface the price of craft looks to be higher than factory beers. that's until one truly understand the choices available and the "true" value of craft---then one would probably buy a few tasty craft beers than a dozen of "cheap" factory beers...)

What other "headaches" facing local operators?
"Malaysia has one of the highest tax in the world and that makes it very difficult for us to cut cost because its something we can't avoid. Also importing beers into a Muslim country can be very tricky most of the times."

"Not enough outlets doing the same as us. We would like to see more restaurant owners sell craft beer and increase awareness about the products."

Think we gonna see more craft beer operators coming into the picture soon?
"Honestly, no. The margins are too low and it takes too long to get a return of your investment. People always say Wow your bar always full on weekends means business is very good but that’s obviously wrong. Quite a few people have approached us about franchising but after showing them the numbers, they realized it’s not the best way to earn money. This is a true PASSION business.  You have got to love what you do and don’t think about immediate profits."

Dear fellow Malaysians who really knows about good food....what beer have you been drinking lately?

NEXT WEEK---talking to ALES & LAGERS  

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