‘With middle-hard body, it features special caramel malt and floral flavours”. No, not a wine review, rather the description of the in-demand Cambodia-brewed Red Bus Amber Ale.
And as the Kingdom taps into the growing popularity of craft beers – and with a local producer like Red Bus brewer Stone Head – Cambodia’s froth lovers looking for a “superior” taste experience are increasingly spoilt for options.
Stone Head CEO Steve Cannon says embarking on a journey into craft beer is to enter a world of quality and choice.
“No matter what your mood, what you are eating or who you are with, there is a beer to match. If people want more than standard lager then craft beer is there for them, in many different varieties. Those who have tried craft beer will all tell you that the flavour and experience is undoubtedly superior to the mainstream options.
“For those seeking traditional craft ale brews, we have wonderful IPAs [India Pale Ale], pale and amber ales, and witbiers. IPAs are always a prominent option in any range. The uniqueness of our Smiling Evil Pale Ale is proving very popular, as are our stouts – an incredible beer experience – particularly the award-winning The Dark Side and our truly inspired Hazelnut and Chocolate Stout.
“While some people will stick to their usual Cambodian lager, many others have already found or are willing to try craft beer and are willing to pay that bit extra. It comes down to quality, preference and choice.
“I think consumers are always looking for this. Whereas they may not have previously gone for a ‘mysterious’ cask ale, the opportunity now with both bottled and draught craft beers allows greater flexibility and choice,” Cannon said.
‘Uniqueness of taste’
Established in Koh Kong in 2015 and supplying the Thai market since, Stone Head – whose handcrafted beer is proudly brewed and bottled
in the Kingdom by Cambodians – began operating last May and already supplies more than 60 outlets across the country, producing 16,000 litres per month.
“We felt it was the right time to give Cambodian beer lovers a greater opportunity to take pride in their choice to support a domestic craft brewer.
“There is both a large expat and tourist market here, as well as an emerging local middle class looking for uniqueness of taste. This brings together people who are aware of the choices available, and they will continue to demand the opportunity to try local craft beers,” Cannon said.
He added that he welcomed Stone Head’s craft ale competitors, saying the large number of brewers – there are currently 12 in the Kingdom – was great news for Cambodia’s beer scene.
“Craft beer is a community, and more brewers means more choice for beer lovers. We launched in Cambodia with a commitment to being the number one craft beer brand as well as to support every operation we partner with. The depth of our range of 12 beers, its quality and our prices – as well as being a Cambodian brewery – set us apart.
“We only use the best quality ingredients – our hops are imported from various sources, primarily Germany, as well as New Zealand for the Motueka hops used for our Smiling Evil Pale Ale, which gives a unique floral and juicy citrus taste. We search for the best, quality ingredients required for each recipe to be as good as it can be,” Cannon said.
Elliot Grace, Stone Head’s sales and marketing director, said the company’s ethos was to look at clients as “partners” rather than customers.
“Customer service is key for us. Not only for the end user purchasing directly via our website – with free delivery within Phnom Penh – but also our retail partners. Due to our volume, we are able to supply at rates far lower than our competitors, adding value for our outlets, while providing great prices for consumers. We can even replace stock that is not proving popular.
“We want a relationship with all our partners so we can help them grow their business and ensure they receive value from us beyond just price. We truly believe it is crucial to work together to achieve success,” Grace explained.
Having won numerous awards, including category winner of “World’s Best Beer 2017” at the World Beer Awards in London for its The Dark Side Stout, Cannon says Stone Head’s commitment to quality is reflected in its motto: “Great Things Take Time”.
“Quality craftsmanship takes time. Whatever is being produced, it cannot be rushed. If you are as committed as we are to producing the best beer possible, then time spent perfecting recipes and techniques is well spent.
“Each bottle and glass should be as good as it can be, with no compromises on ingredients or time. We owe it to our customers and the craft beer community as a whole to uphold the ethos of quality and value for money,” he said.