Beyond average beer: Taps at 1Mont Kiara. Photo: Ling Low.
Beyond average beer: Taps at 1Mont Kiara. Photo: Ling Low.

When it comes to beer, we might be tempted to fall back on the familiar names on tap. But there’s a whole world out there of craft beers – and an adventure awaits the curious drinker.

Having been around for four years and with two outlets in Mont Kiara and Changkat respectively, Taps Beer Bar is a force to be reckoned with within the craft beer community. Taps offers at least 60 different bottled beers and 15 beers on tap from different countries around the world.

So what makes craft beer stand out from the rest? Simply put, craft breweries tend to be independent entities. Alvin Lim, co-owner of Taps, simplifies it down to, “As long as it’s still made privately by a private company, it’s considered a craft beer.”

His example is Scottish brewery Brewdog. Brewdog has about 35 bars worldwide, is a big hit in the UK, and is certainly a macro-brewery. However, the founders refuse to sell out to larger corporations and insist on keeping their recipes the same, despite smaller profits.

A selection of craft beers at Taps. Photo: Ling Low.
A selection of craft beers at Taps. Photo: Ling Low.

The Taps menu changes regularly so that frequent patrons will get the chance to expand their palates. One can expect light, citrusy ales to more robust and savoury stouts.

How should a beginner approach craft beer? According to Alvin, “If it really is your first time, don’t be impressed by the ‘9% strong ale’ label. Go for the light ones first – like a wheat ale.” He also encourages first-timers to ask more knowledgeable bar staff for recommendations.

Lagers, pilsners, and wheat ale tend to be lighter on the palate and more refreshing. Up next are the pale ales: slightly more bitter, with a bit of body, making them your introductory lessons to ales. Characteristically, amber ales have a malty flavour at the start. Amber ales also have a bitter aftertaste, but the sweet and malty start helps to balance this out.

Moving on to the tougher stuff, we start with India Pale Ale (IPA), often described as hoppy, because of its (debatable) origins story. Crossing into dark beer territory, there’s porter.  The method of brewing porters is similar to stouts, but the result isn’t as heavy. Finally, we come to the stout, with a typically more complex and deeper body and flavour.

According to Alvin, urban KL-ites are only just starting to get a taste for craft beers and there’s still a long way to go with the trend. However, with Taps and other bars bringing in craft beers, there’s a growing community who appreciate craft beers.

This September, Taps in Changkat will host the Better Beer Festival for the fourth year. For those who want to venture beyond standard beers, it’s the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.

The Better Beer Festival will be held at Taps (Changkat) on 5 September from 2pm

Taps at Changkat: A-0-3 One Residency, 1 Jalan Nagasari, 50200 KL. Open Monday – Saturday: 5pm – 9pm, Sunday: All day from 12 noon

Taps at 1Mont Kiara: Ground floor, 1 Mont Kiara, 1, Jalan Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur. Open Monday – Saturday: 11am – 9pm, Sunday: All day.

THREE MORE TO TRY

Brussels Beer Café

Brussels Beer Café may be a chain of bars, but it prides itself on its selection of beers. Craft beers from Scotland, Germany, Australia and of course Belgium are included in the menu. It also serves Hoegaarden, Stella Artois and Leffe as draught beers – not craft beers, but not your usual pub selection either. Diners can head straight for the hearty mains (Crispy Roasted Pork Knuckles anyone?) or nibble on the beer food platter which keeps up to the meat-centric menu; a combination of roast pork, squid, smoked duck, blind finches and Belgium frites.

Various locations

Open daily, 11am -1am.

The Great Beer Bar

Tucked between the shop lots of Damansara Uptown, The Great Beer Bar serves eight craft beers on tap. If those aren’t doing it for you, you’re bound to find something in their chiller. The wooden long tables create a communal atmosphere which encourage the flow of conversation. With Curbside Cantina (Sundays to Thursdays) and Coolinary Ronins (Fridays and Saturdays) sharing the kitchen, expect some innovative pub food on their everchanging menu.

86 Jalan SS 21/62, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya. Open daily, 3pm -12am.

Ales and Lagers

Wandering through the labyrinth that already is Publika lies an unassuming glass door that leads you into the small quarters of Ales and Lagers. The exterior doesn’t seem like much until you feast your eyes on the true gems. From ceiling to floor, the entire right wall is a kaleidoscope of craft beer labels. To date, the place houses about 52 varieties of craft beer. There’s even a Sriracha-flavoured number for the brave. You’re not going to find any food here (patrons are more than welcome to bring in their own) but we imagine that would be the least of your worries.

D1-G4-6, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 KL. Open daily, 3pm – 10 pm.

 Interview by Chan Sha Lynn, listings by Marissa Hakim

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