Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WEEK 107---Craft What Fun?

2013年底朋友鼓励抱着写玩玩心态开始“CRAFT IS ART” 部落客,到隔年写“顽啤主张”,有朋友问到底Craft魅力何在,可以让人如此着迷?来聊聊到底怎么回事。
It's been quite a while since this blog started, here's a little "looking back and forth":-
1) how it started?
About 5 years plus ago--going to the only dedicated craft beer bar in town--the drinkers would almost always full of either expat or foreign tourists, the percentage of local drinkers are quite small- that's when a friend suggested " why not try writing a blog about craft beer in Chinese?"
(*Malaysia as a muslim country--technically speaking it's only the Chinese with 20 plus % of population and Indians at about 5 plus% who are not bound by "prohibition laws" and can drink freely) 
Then again--since there are Chinese who don't read Chinese, as well for the benefits of some friends who are not Chinese--a Chinese + broken English blog was born in late 2013.
1) 怎么开始的?
56年前去本地唯一1craft beer专卖吧时,都是外国人居多,有朋友提议说为什么不写中文啤酒blog尝试推广?后来想到有不会看中文朋友,也不管半桶水英文,于是变成中英文双语版。
2) drinking craft---what is it all about?
it's still beer drinking--only and HUGE difference is Choices available.
Imagine this--all the MACRO BEER you been drinking so far is like eating Plain White Bread and nothing else.  Drinking craft is more like making bread into all sorts of delicacies -you could put on fresh vege or ham or eggs or add some fruit jam-peanut butter jelly- toast it- roast it---the possibilities quite endless...
2) craft 到底怎么一回事?
简单说,可以想像成以前喝的大厂啤酒都像是白面包,而喝craft beer就像是开始在全麦面包上做各种美味添加,涂上果酱-花生酱-蜜糖,变成三文治或烤土司等美味转身,听起来是不是美味多了?
3) what got you into the craft "black hole"?
10 years ago--anyone who chose to drink some "Macro-ish" German beer or Belgium beer here in KL is considered advance drinker ;) 
There's simply no supply of craft beer here until about 7,8 years ago when a small Belgium restaurant in Bangsar brought in beers like de la senne, st.martin,  Hopus, Duvel...that was probably the time when palate was open up somewhat. BUT the 2 beers that really gotten me was Rochefort 8, as well as a vintage 330ml Struise Black Damnation Mocha Bomb kindly shared by the owner, those 2 beers definitely impacted the palate in more ways possible at that time.
3) 什么情况下陷入浩瀚啤海的?
一直以来吉隆坡没有craft专卖店,当时会喝些德国啤酒就已很与众不同了,七八年前有一家比利时餐厅自己小量进口几个不同品牌比利时craft beer,那时算大概知道什么是不同啤酒美味层次,真正让人开窍的啤酒是餐厅主人分享私藏,一是Rochefort 8号,另一是已绝版Struise Mocha Bomb小支装,对那时候味蕾来说,这两支啤酒带来震撼是影响深刻的。

4) what fun being a geek?
Geeks at times are seen as "alien subject" by some other drinkers--simply because they are seen to be either too picky about beer or trying to make something as simple as beer drinking into complicated rocket science?
In truth the joy of being a geek is the same as say a foodie, it's all about finding and enjoying different taste profile, in this case, either a beer or a mead, and that is all geeks wanted, nothing too complicated really. 
and if you don't realized, being a geek in ASIA can be not much fun--painful even at times--simply because we lives so far apart from Europe/US where lots of awesome beer/mead originated from and hardly get any consistent or fresh enough supply.
4) 啤迷乐趣是什么?
5) what so fun drinking craft?
first and foremost--it's different--though it's still beer--the varieties of taste profile one could get out of a craft beer (or mead) is so so much different from gulping your usual BUD or Tiger or Carlsberg or Tsingdao or Chang....
secondly- drinking beer can become something one could "taste"--the term tasting session no longer belongs to just whisky or wine--with craft beer you really can enjoy better with a tasting session- drink less taste more.
IF you are into or have friends who are very into certain sports or hobbies, say photography, cooking, rock climbing, writing or whatever--the joy is the same when you share and appreciate good craft beer/mead.
5) Craft乐趣是什么?
6) does it make any difference---when majority drinkers just simply buy BEER and gulp it down?
It's a fact that MACRO BEER is the market leaders in terms of volume and easy access to getting it--but craft is here, craft is a CHOICE, and a much much better one (ok, fxxk some awful brew claiming to be craft)--people just need to open up their eyes and mind and give some varieties of craft a few tries before even trying to decide or judge if craft is worthy sip or to your liking.
craft in ASIA is still at early developing stage--if the US market took about 20 odd years to gain a strong foothold in the beer market while trying to fend off all kinds of tactics from MACRO--ASIA might need that long a time to get craft moving in the right direction--one step at the time--so long as craft community moves--the craft movement will move in tune...
6) 绝大多数人都随便买随便喝大厂啤酒,啤迷摇旗呐喊有用吗?
Craft主要靠口口相传,如何让更多人知道啤酒不是只有大厂品牌,craft beer才是更美味多变化选择不是短期内就能看到成效的事。美国的craft革命用了20年左右才有如今占整体啤酒市场销量10多巴仙成绩,亚洲肯定需要时间,而且搞不好比美国更长时间才能让更多消费者开始意识到喝啤酒时其实有更多美味选择。
7) why write when the market is dominated by MACRO still?
when this blog started--or subsequently when the local Chinese newspaper Guangming Sunday feature section invited to start a craft column--the thought is the same--it's to share thoughts about craft--though maybe it would be nice to be able to earn money while writing/sharing like J.K.Rowling or some big time blogger but i guess that's not happening/not gonna happen :)
end of the day--if anyone who read this blog/newspaper column or say someone met in person got interested with craft and went on to explore more--i guess that would be reasons enough to keep writing/sharing...(though i won't mind IF someone like to donate millions to the account and say go on be a full time craft writer or go and publish a book or something : )
7) 大局是那样,还有什么好写的?
无论是最初写部落客或“顽啤主张”,都没什么伟大理想抱负,只抱分享心态,想到什么就写什么,要说有谁看了会对craft beer产生兴趣,或觉得原来长大以来以为认识的大厂啤酒并不是啤酒全部真相,那就够了。

Monday, June 5, 2017

WEEK 105---you have CHOICES when it comes to beer

This is a fairly simple piece --it came out of a casual chat with someone about craft beer, during MBCC beer week  here in craft desert KL:-
"what is it about craft beer? what so special that people would fly all the way to Copenhagen just for beer? are you guys nuts?"
Obviously the guy who commented is not a beer geek--well perhaps not even a craft beer drinker but a curiosity drinker--and he is absolutely right to voiced out those questions.
You see--the world of beer is split into 2--there's the commonly available everyone knows MACRO BEER, and then there's craft beer( though i would say it's going to be 3 or already split into 3 with the role of MACRO-CRAFT coming into play) ---hence it's normal majority of BEER drinkers don't understand how and why geeks behave or go huhhhhuaaa about beer.

"what so different about the world of craft"--the curiosity drinker guy asked.
The biggest differences of course is CHOICES--there are so many choices with craft beer that it's like walking into a candy store or XMAS gifts shop.
 的确,喝啤酒这件事本质上是可以很简单的,就算来到craft beer的世界,也可以是简单事情,要说其中最大差别的话,应该说在于怎么喝,喝什么。

"OK--choices--but is that to say you guys turning what used to be straight forward friends gathering-chit chatting drinking session into some complicated -smart ass beer sniffing -gourmet studying session?"
That is also quite understandable--of course geeks can be a bunch of weirdos who sniff beer as if they are tasting wine/whiskey--take photos of bottles like they are taking pictures of some rock stars or the finest art collectibles--all those make geeks look somewhat strange--to many a beer is just a beer--there's no need really to make things complicated than necessary.

Are beer geeks really that different from say guys who are crazy about photography? or say people who are into seeking out good food? or say people who love mountain climbing?

The answer is simple---what  beer geeks really wanted is to be able to seek out and appreciate high quality brew --and to achieve that geeks are prepared to do more be it to fly out, to pay a bit more than average drinkers would for MACRO BEER, to study a bit about beer styles and taste profile and so on---It's all about passion and interest level---all in the name of taste.
没错,啤酒原本就是被诠释为直截了当的轻松型酒精饮料,这是大厂啤酒一直为大家塑造的印象,也是消费者一直以来的理解。换个角度看,在craft beer世界裡,喝啤酒可以有更多其他层面享受。

如果一个饮客一路来只认识大厂啤酒,会这样想不出奇,因为对不少人来说,喝啤酒就只是为了跟朋友或亲人开心集聚,喝什么口味啤酒根本不重要,气氛和亲友间交流才是重点。所以,当一个那么"简单质朴"的大厂啤酒世界概念被强调不同风格口味啤酒享受的craft beer改变後,啤酒世界没选择不用选择的局面就已被打破。

"so craft has got choices-different flavour profile--but why should i drink craft?"
It's not a must for everyone who drink MACRO to turn over and drink craft--it's still personal choices what you would prefer to drink or where to drink---the 1 big reason maybe that since no matter if one is drinking MACRO or craft--it's still alcoholic drink which the body needs working to dissolve the alcohol, in that case, why not give your palate a nicer tasting beer than the dull and same same?
'what so different drinking a MACRO BEER or a craft?"
there's many technical aspects to go into details--perhaps think of it this way---it's like the differences of drinking a pack of frozen orange juice bought from convenience store as compared to a glass of freshly squeezed juice with 3 oranges? 

一些人喝啤酒只为热闹或跟亲友聚聚,喝什么不重要,只是,看到大多数人完全不知道有craft beer美味多样化选择存在是件让啤迷揪心的事。的确,每个人口味看法不同,有人觉得喝大厂啤酒就很爽了,可是,对啤迷来说,打个比喻,酿得很好的craft就像是用3粒优质橙榨成的一杯果汁,更原汁原味新鲜好喝。跟超市卖的包装果汁是有一定区别的,既然有那样的美味选择,为什么不要?

"what so good or important to know what craft is?"
Let's maybe put it this way---knowing how to appreciate craft would bring about many different flavours for varieties of palate enjoyment.
Only those who gave themselves a chance to get to know craft better--as well know how to respect an alcoholic brew--would have the chance to appreciate the multitude of joy craft could bring.
或许这样说,懂得欣赏craft beer会带来很多意想不到的不同风味味蕾享受(虽然偶尔也有喝到难喝酿品受罪时候),也会比较懂得怎么去面对酒精,只有给机会自己口味选择,尊重酒精酿品的人,才有机会享受不同类别啤酒所带来乐趣。

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WEEK 104--the MUTATION of craft to MACRO-CRAFT

Yes--this is old old news already by the time it show up here.

五月第一个星期,很多不同城市啤迷都在议论美国酿坊wicked weed被国际大厂啤酒巨无霸AbinBev(曾烧大钱打广告讥讽craft啤迷只是装模作样一群)收购事件。
啤酒一直有不同的两个世界,一个是只注重卖三几个单调产品,以追求市场占有率盈利最大化为目标的MACRO BEER 
另一个是craft beer --小量酿造,注重不同类别风格口味的美味世界。
But it's still worth a shot to at least try to let people know that there's indeed a world split into 3 :-MACRO BEER, craft beer----and the mutation which is MACRO-CRAFT 

在出现千变万化不同类型风格口味啤酒选择craft之前,啤酒世界只有大家都熟悉的大厂啤酒(MACRO BEER),那是基本没口味类别选择的世界,长期那样淡出鸟来情况下,有人开始试着酿造自己想喝啤酒,于是craft慢慢从自酿自供变成现在的百花齐放。
In Asia--beer is obviously not a daily necessities--people would buy more other types of beverages than alcoholic ones--and if we zero in on craft beer segment--it's even much smaller.
With low awareness about craft beer--where generally people would only associate BEER as the whole and only truth they could think of when asked about beer--let's try and point out the differences:-
MACRO--multi national corporation giants--only focusing on a few famous brands-usually simple lager or pilsner and keep producing in mega volume--easy access is the key--flooding market is the aim- cutting down/out market competition is the means.
craft beer--thousands of small breweries--all sorts of beer styles/ varieties--flavour profile is the key--producing "what we could/ what we want" is the motto--fighting to be number 1 best selling beer in the market is NOT encourage by any means(though aiming to get rated as number 1 could/would be ;)
MACRO-CRAFT--the mutant born out of the marriage of MACRO and "once a craft" breweries--in other words--the MACRO-CRAFT are those craft breweries which for one reason or another decided to hold the hands of MACRO giants through a sell out deal.
了解craft文化的啤迷几乎都从喝MACRO BEER开始,因为那样,更能体会craft酿坊致力提供不同类别风格口味啤酒享受的努力,对只以三几个畅销品牌单调无趣啤酒抢市场的MACRO没好感。

so why would MACRO buy into a craft? and why would craft sell?
the reasons:-
MACRO needs to grow market share--and the only way to enter the craft market is by buying up existing craft breweries- what's better than using craft to fight craft?
craft sold out for MONEY( it could be for betterment of future growth-reaching out to more drinkers-retirement or maybe simply being naive--you name it- but end of the day it's MONEY- period)
跟不久前卖给同一家MACRO的上海拳击猫(BOXING CAT)一样,wicked weed卖的理由是因为可以凭借国际大公司的财力和分销网更好的发展。对出钱收购的MACRO来说,近年美国市场销售额下滑意味着必须做点什么制衡已经抢占啤酒市场十多巴仙的craft,既然自家品牌啤酒肯定不能跟那么多类别风格啤酒抗衡,那就来个以craftcraft,有什么有效过隔岸观火,利用原本同理念的酿坊打击自己打不过的敌人?

By choosing to hold the hands of ABInBev - WW has chosen to become a CATEGORY of products under the wings of MACRO BEER -and by doing so -- contrary to what WW might think - they have also chosen to leave the craft community- yes, its only beer and friendship might stay - but the one thing WW might not realized when deciding to take the money and support from AbinBev is that the craft community is a wicked bunch - people in this community has got common belief that craft should remain craft - associating with MACRO is NOT. 

There are some who slam geeks for being a bunch of "cry babies" who cannot see others getting a handsome pay off for years of hard work to build up that craft brewery/brand name--No Doubt--it's the absolute rights of the owners to decide what to do next with their own business/brand/brewery--that part is clear--there's no doubt they can decide to sell out to whoever they like.

任何酿坊都可以决定抄小路走捷径,那是酿坊品牌主人的决定,那之后,啤迷也会决定那家酿坊的定位,不再会是craft,而是带讽刺意味的新名词-MACRO CRAFT

Also--there's no shame at all if a craft brewery declare openly that their aim is to be the number 1 best selling beer by volume in the craft market--or say to be a 100 million dollar business--there's nothing wrong to aim for that since craft beer is after all still business.
BUT--the moment a craft brewery took the short-cut of taking money from MACRO giants--that's where all the "complications" starts.

WHY CAN'T craft brewery merge/side with MACRO? is MACRO that evil? while a deal of MACRO buying into craft is generally perceived as nothing more than business--it is a big deal in many aspects (culturally-emotionally-and in the longer run market competition wise) to craft community and beer geeks, imagine these scenario:-
-ask yourself if it feels right to buy Messi if you are a Real Madrid fan? or buy C.Ronaldo if you a BARCA fan?

-if you love hand made/gourmet coffee--would you like Nescafe/Starbucks to own your favourite beans company to "make better coffee" more accessible to drinkers?

-if you love food--and you just heard McDonalds bought your favourite gourmet burger shop--so as to help grow the gourmet burger market?

It's true craft beer is a business hence every breweries/brewers can't run away from the harsh test of business competition/pressures of making a business sustainable/profitable--BUT--what makes craft business a little special is the unspoken community spirits--the craft culture--most geeks understand the common languages of craft--tying up close with MACRO giant's money/power is NOT one of them.
it is clear MACRO-CRAFT is aiming at newbies- people who would try craft beer for the first time--the ignorant, the "beer is just BEER- who cares who owns what" crowd.

By acquiring craft and making good use of them to fight the fight MACRO could not enter with their own beers--it is a "smart move" since they are capitalizing on the IGNORANCE of most drinkers who either don't know what are the differences between craft and MACRO--or just simply don't give a fxxk of who owns what.
In a small way--saying beer is only BEER or "i just drink--it's too complicated to understand craft beer" or " do i need to know who owns what to decide which beer to drink?" is a little similar to we earth people upon hearing about Global Warming or when maybe London- New York or Bangkok might completely disappear from the horizon--it's something which many would brush aside as "none of my concern- too complicated to understand--too distance from my daily routine".

to say the need to protect craft community from the clutches of MACRO is almost like trying to save planet earth is a little far fetch- but if we take a closer look at what JEAN of CANTILLON posted on FB both on 2nd APRIL & 10th MAY about rejecting 1 time craft turned MACRO-CRAFT Birra Del Bogo and how giants killed off competition and hence the closing down of lambic breweries in and around Brussels some 40 years ago--then maybe it's not that far fetch....( here's screen-shot of both posting--for more detail please check Cantillon FB)

Monday, May 1, 2017

WEEK 103--some basic ideas of CRAFT---PART 3

still on the back to basics series:-
1)Why Drink Craft?
the answer is simple--palate enjoyment
it's the same reason why people tend to seek out something delicious to eat--if you would demand food to be tasty--why not beer?
1) 为什么要喝Craft Beer
2) we can find fruits/chocolate/coffee(and more)in a beer--why not just eat/drink those instead of finding the taste in beer?
It's simply NOT the same.
just like food item such as cheese/kimchi or soy sauce needing  to go through "FERMENTATION" process--that somewhat "magical" fermenting process will make the food items becoming uniquely delicious in a beer form.
2) 如果美味是因为有水果味,巧克力味,咖啡味之类的,那直接吃水果巧克力喝咖啡不就解决了?
3) Beer is full of gas/carbonation--it makes one feel unpleasantly bloated
Yes--carbonation is part of beer--and if all you know is MACRO BEER then it's a huge part of it--we all been ingrained as to how a perfectly served pint must have a rather thick head.
BUT--in the world of craft beer--carbonation is NOT the same for every beer--depending on the style of beer--some would have very less or no carbonation when served--though some would have almost Champagne-ish carbonation to create those little bubbles in a beer....
Does carbonation makes you feel bloated? perhaps that french fries/potato wedges or chicken wings that went along with the beer would be responsible rather than just your pint.
3) 啤酒有气泡,喝了肚子涨感觉很饱
一般人观念中,啤酒完全就是气泡饮料,不过,在Craft Beer的世界,不是所有啤酒都有着相同数量气泡,有些类型啤酒完全没泡或只有少量气泡,也有些啤酒特意加强气泡让啤酒带来类似香槟细致口感。
4)Beer is alcoholic beverages-how to best enjoy it without getting shit-faced?
The solution is simple--first you need to know what's your limit/alcohol tolerance level--if you are not sure--drink a few times and you would find out.
Always remember these 2 key factors:-
NEVER drink with empty stomach
AVOID drinking when you are too tired physically/mentally
Drinking craft beer can be like savouring nice food/dessert--it's never about gulping/binking--take your time--find out more about the flavours you like in a beer- just relax and enjoy.
5)So any craft beer must be all nice and tasty?
Well--if one were to compare with MACRO beer --craft beer would be much tastier with much more flavours/layer to discover.
BUT--the fact is NOT ALL craft beer is great--there's different level of brews out there--it's kinda like there's so many Chicken Rice or Burger stall out there--but NOT ALL are of the same deliciousness--it's the same with craft beer.
The only way is to find out yourself--drink more-read some-talk to people-observe--and you will slowly find out which are the better ones.
5) Craft Beer是不是随便选都肯定好喝?
6)What to do when met with "awful beer"?
there's a few scenario here pertaining to "awful beer":-
if the beer taste awful due to "handling issues" such as long exposure under strong sunlight or already infected during bottling/canning process--the only way is to pour down the drain.
6) 碰上难喝啤酒怎么办?
if a beer taste "awful" because it's of a flavour you don't like( a beer tasting like coffee which is not your daily drink)--OR say you like coffee quite a lot and expecting your beer to taste more coffee like-thicker---but initial sips seems disappointing....
then it's not really a bad beer issue--but more of a getting used to new flavour issue--or that the beer has yet to warm up....
there's a few ways one could try to turn that strange tasting beer into something drinkable:-
A) try wait for a while longer to let that beer warm up to see if it would become something more drinkable?
B) try blending the beer with some other styles of beer( you could mix 1 with another 1 or another 2- it's your call) to see if that beer would changed into something more likable?
C) If you really don't like what you drinking--and if your friend/s don't mind/ or that stranger sitting next to you at the bar don't mind--just let go of it--let others try if they like it.
B) 觉得不对味比如不喜欢咖啡却喝到带咖啡味啤酒,又或说喜欢咖啡可是好像不浓郁,可以试着让味蕾慢慢适应,实在不行,可以试着1)等久一点,让啤酒回温再喝看是不是有变圆润顺滑好喝, 2)混其他类型啤酒看会不会变好喝,3)请别人喝。
If a beer is tasting awful because it's way beyond your palate appreciation level--then it's a totally different issue--it's a case where you maybe drinking 1 of the best brew in the world--but due to lack of understanding of the taste profile a beer could bring- the current level of your palate would not be able to appreciate what's coming-hence the immediate rejection/reaction.
There's been some real stories going round about how a geek would find his/her Trappist beer or Lambic missing from the fridge only to know that it was opened and drain poured by some family members who thought the beer were"tasting funny/ maybe gone bad"!!!
So --if you met a beer which you are not sure but thought it's tasting "awful"--you might want to ask this question "is it really a bad brew or is it something my palate could not handle as yet?" 
7) just give me THE BEST beer
In consumerism- it's common to hear that sentence " just give me THE BEST" though at times those who fork out handsome cash don't really know what he/she bought into?
In the world of craft beer--what is the best beer would be a question NO ONE can give definite answer to--in a beer world full of varieties of styles--who can tell the world what is the best?
Yes--there's a list of world best beer/top beers if you follow Rate Beer or Beer Advocate--but are those list the definitive definition of THE BEST?
Nope-it's not the case--those list you can choose to think it's the best beer list--or you can just look at it and say  " i think this particular beer is more deserving to be on the list but it's not"
7) 只选择喝最好的啤酒不就好了?
虽然网上两大独立评酒网站RATEBEERBEER ADVOCATE每年都有排行榜,不过,懂得啤酒的人都知道,就算排名第一的啤酒也未必就是最好的,不同类别风格啤酒那么多,口味选择又是个人喜好因素决定,很难确定A的最爱一定也是BCDEFG最爱。更何况,有些盛名在外欧美啤酒,因为产量少,有时候有钱也未必买得到。
In the world of craft--varieties is key--tasting and finding out more flavours you like in a beer is the key reason why geeks are so into it--there's probably no THE BEST--but there's certainly awesome brew--solid brew-average brew and awful brew--you will know how to differentiate when you drink up to a certain level :)