Kingdom Breweries dubs itself as the only “premium” Cambodian beer. They’ve no stiff competition in that department — no matter how drinkable they are, one can hardly pretend that Angkor or Klang are the result of careful boutique brewing. Kingdom, on the other hand, is a true microbrewery. Their current capacity is small, at just 10,000 hectolitres. They brew three batches two days a week, but in future plan to up their capacity to 50,000 hectolitres. Although it bills itself as a Cambodian beer and is brewed in Cambodia, 99% of the components, from the hops to the bottles to the cardboard boxes, have had to be imported due to the lack of high-quality local availability. This contributes to a higher price — around town Kingdom usually goes for $2.50 per bottle, about twice the price of an Angkor beer.
Kingdom, which opened in September 2010, was originally intended as a beer for expats, German-born brewmaster Peter Haupenthal explained. “In the beginning we thought that the foreigners, the expats, would be our customers. But there aren’t enough so we are also catering to locals.” This means that they haven’t released the Kingdom Bitter that they had once hoped to. “The locals won’t drink it, it’s too bitter,” Haupenthal said, a little sadly.
You’ll get to try a bottle of the bitter on the tour, which is conducted by Haupenthal, as well as a yet-to-be-bottled dark ale, which most on our tour agreed was far more impressive than the pilsner that has already made it to market.
The tour costs $6 and covers the brewing and production process. It ends in the Kingdom Breweries bar, which overlooks the Tonle Sap river and is an ideal place to spend an afternoon. Haupenthal is eager to chat with beer lovers about his brews, as well as hand out samples of his creations and discuss future plans, which might even include a mango-flavoured beer. Depending on how long you decide to stay in the bar, the tour takes about 45 minutes (although mine somehow took three hours).
By Lina Goldberg
Last updated on 19th September, 2014.