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For the love of Craft Beer

Anith Adilah Othman / Khmer Times Share:
Himawari Hotels director Andrew Tay (right) with brewmaster Neo Say Wee. Jean-Francois Perigois

It was an evening filled with laughter and excitement as Himawari Microbrewery celebrated its sixth anniversary with a special craft beer workshop on November 16.

Sticking true to its motto “There is a Himawari Craft Beer for Everybody”, scores of beer aficionados were treated to a night of sampling six of the brewery’s finest.

They were: Mekong, a blonde ale with low bitterness and floral aroma, Bassac, a Belgian witbier with a sprinkle of pomelo zest, coriander seeds and chamomile flowers, Mekong Zest, a blonde ale Infused with fresh lemon zest, Apsara Gold, an Australasian-style pale ale with delicate malt flavour, CentenniALE, an American-style Indian pale ale, and Oats, a sweet stout that is low in bitterness but robust in oatmeal flavour.

A top-up with Himawari’s uniquely crafted beer. Photo: Jeff Perigois

Brewmaster Neo Say Wee, who took the opportunity to explain the process of craft beer creation, said the brewery ensures that it does not cut any corners when it comes to the preparation of its beverages.

The guests were also guided by the brewmaster himself on how to properly taste beer like a true connoisseur – starting by looking at its colour, swirl and smell the beer, take a small sip, swish it around the mouth before swallowing.

“The beer that you are tasting now is the hard work from a month ago. In fact, some beers may even take longer to produce.

“The five steps will awaken your palate and you will be able to taste the true flavour of the beer. And, the biggest difference between wine and beer tasting is we swallow the beer, instead of spitting it out like what we would do with wine,” he told the crowd.

Himawari’s craft beers have bagged international awards. Jeff Perigois

This was followed by a question-and-answer session where Neo was able to enlighten the guests on the definition of International Bitterness Units (IBU) level of each of Himawari’s craft beer, among others.

“IBU basically measures the balance of malt sweetness and hops’ bitterness. The higher the number means the more bitter you can expect it to be. Our CentenniALE, for instance, has the highest level of IBU at 45, compared to say our light ale, Mekong or Bassac,” he said.

Apart from the wonderful palate-awakening session, the crowd was also serenaded by beautiful piano and violin playing by in-house musicians.

Himawari’s craft beers are highly sought after, seeing as they had successfully bagged three international awards, including the most recent one – Asia Beer Championship 2018 for its Mekong beer, and also World Luxury Restaurant Award 2016.

All smiles at Himawari’s craft beer tasting event. Photo: Jeff Perigois

Since its grand opening on November 16, 2012, Himawari Hotel Apartments director Andrew Tay said the brewery has strived to serve the finest malt and hops to beer enthusiasts – both locals and expatriates alike.

“As one of the oldest microbrewery establishments in Cambodia, we cater to those who prefer alternatives to commercial beer. They generally demand better quality beer and we make that possible for them.

“The beer that we crafted are unique in flavour and of the highest quality,” he said while addressing the crowd at the Hotel last week.

During his opening address, he also announced that its signature Mekong craft beer will soon be served at Sushi Tei’s Exchange Square outlet.

As a way to show their appreciation towards their customers, Tay also gave out five craft beer vouchers to five lucky guests at the end of the event.

The event, which lasted for two hours, was also conducted in Japanese with the help of translator Akiko Sasaki.

“One of the first recognitions we have ever received was from Japan so we know that there is a market there. That is why this time, we celebrate our anniversary focusing on the Japanese expats living in Cambodia. Others, of course, are more than welcomed,” Tay said.

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