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Not Your Frat Boy’s Beer Fest

Peter Olszewski / Khmer Times Share:
The exterior of The Ten Bells Bar and Restaurant. KT/Fabien Mouret

Recently opened The Ten Bells Bar and Restaurant is making a name for itself in Siem Reap, with quirky events and the current downright civilized brew fest.

Elegance isn’t normally a word associated with beer festivals – with the exception being the festival at Siem Reap’s smooth new The Ten Bells Bar and Restaurant in the busy Pub Street precinct.

The venue, which takes its name from a famous three-century-old English pub that was the haunt of two of the prostitutes killed by Jack the Ripper, is owned by the Angkor W Restaurant Collection.

The company’s director of sales and marketing, Stephane Aubry, is at pains to explain that there are no rowdy backpackers slugging down foam-sodden 50 cent beers or barrel-bellied boofheads full of brew and bravado chug-a-lugging lager at the Ten Bells Beer Festival, which winds up on Monday, June 20, after a 10 day stint.

“The style is 100 percent elegant,” he says, pointing out that it is in keeping with the venue itself, which he describes as “a stylish upper level bar and restaurant.”

Aubry adds that, in the same vein, there is also a “no-tinnie” policy at the so-called festival, with all beers served in the bottle only as glass gives better taste to the brew – or so says Stephane.

But he does concede that the occasion is more of a promotion than a real beer fest–one that gives the clientele tastes of beers from around the world in one pleasant place. Belgian beers head the drinks list, possibly because the owner is Belgian. That said, the list of 15 different Belgian beers is magnificent. Well known favorites such as Stella Artois feature, plus other delights such as Hoegaarden and La Chouffe Blond.

Cambodia is on the menu with two Angkor beers, and Germany with four beers including three Erdingers. New Zealand and Thailand are both represented with two beers each, and one each from the Netherlands, Mexico and Singapore. The only oddity with this list is the absence of Australian brews, up there with the best in the world. But perhaps the exclusion is a Belgian thing, as of course Belgians declares theirs the best in the world. And they’re probably correct.

Beer prices at the festival range from $1.80 for a 33cl Angkor bottle to $6 for a 33cl bottle of premium Belgian. And in keeping with the elegance and refinement concept, Ten Bells also serves up a range of five “beer influenced” tapas, such as nifty little numbers like oysters on beer, accra of mackerel on beer and pigs paté on beer – items that don’t feature at your typical beer fest.

Promotions like the beer fest have quickly put Ten Bells well and truly on the Siem Reap venue map, despite only opening in March. The venue also has a popular monthly attraction with its Ten Bells Music Production Label special evening sessions.

“This is open to all the musicians who are in town at the time,” says Aubry, “Whether they are local Siem Reap musicians or from anywhere on the globe.

“What we do is we give them the space and equipment to play, we record them live for a very small fee and then give them their cd of their music.

“Ultimately we want to create a music label like the Buddha Bar label or Café del Mar in Spain. They both started out in a bar, with different djs coming and created their own label.

“What we’re trying to do is create a label that hopefully will be known around the world as made in Cambodia.”

And most local musos will certainly drink to that.

The Ten Bells Bar and Restaurant. West Alley, corner of Sivutha Boulevard, Siem Reap.
Phone: 092 328 051. Info: [email protected]

A spread of the tapas at The Ten Bells Bar.

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