Homegrown brew master Randy Liew has created Sarawak’s first locally produced specialty beer.
Liew, who has over 20 years of experience in brewing, worked with Hans Gerner from Bavaria, Germany to craft four different varieties - Wheat, Pale Ale, Extra Dark, and Lager - for the beer, known as 1602 Craft Beer.
Gerner comes from a family who has been in beer-brewing since 1308, with his father, grandfather, and great-grandfathers involved in the trade.
In explaining the name, Liew said the year 1602 was when an explorer from the Netherlands first drew one of the earliest maps of Borneo.
“Some might ask why 1602 and not 1884 or 1980? Our brewery is established in Kuching so we picked something that represents where we are from and who we are. Therefore, we chose the number 1602.”
On Facebook, Liew said it’s his personal agenda to make Malaysians proud with this locally crafted beer.
“We conceptualised the brand four years ago. We went through some studies and we observed the markets and consumer trends. We went through many challenges to set up a brewery in Malaysia,” said Liew, who clinched the English Pale Ale silver medal at the Asia International Beer Competition 2018 in Hong Kong.
Craft beer is described as beers made using traditional methods by independent brewers. These specialty beers focus on flavour and ingredients.
“We have lager and pale ale, which is very easy to drink. And we have a dark beer ... it tastes a little bit like coffee and has chocolate notes. We do not use coffee or chocolate, yet it has developed that taste simply by selecting different types of malt.
“We didn’t make much modifications to our wheat beer because the beer style itself suits the Asian palette quite well. It’s fruity, with a bit of sweetness. What we are trying to do is introduce craft beers to a young market,” said Liew, who owns a Singapore-based craft brewery.
"After all these years of doing craft brewing all over South-East Asia, I have never done anything for Malaysia, so this is my opportunity to contribute,” said Liew, adding that the craft beer is available on tap in Kuching and Sibu.
On Feb 8, Borneo Post's online article on the launch of the beer received good response.
Kim Lee said: “Congratulations, this can generate revenue for Sarawak."
Raymond Lim commented: “Hope the quality in taste is better or similar to beers brewed elsewhere. And most importantly competitive cost.”
Robinson Unau Gaong is upset Sarawak black pepper wasn't added to the beer.
"I drank a Swiss-made beer in Lausanne that has... guess what... Sarawak black pepper as an ingredient. A bit disappointed this locally made beer doesn't have it.... could be unique and very local... till then... good luck!"