Quick shots

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE -

Bel­gian beer

FANCY a taste of Bel­gian beer? Then check out Brux-ale (pro­nounced like Brus­sels) Bel­gian Bistro (4, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar, KL) for au­then­tic Bel­gian cui­sine com­plete with gen­uine Bel­gian beers. On tap, they have the ex­cel­lent Blanche de Brux­elles and Maniken Pils, while some of the more in­ter­est­ing bot­tled brands in­clude a range of Flor­effe Trap­pist beers (brewed by Bel­gian Trap­pist monks), the ex­tra hoppy Taras Boulba, an ex­tra strong Bel­gian ale with honey, Bar­bar, light, fruity beers like Kriek and Newton, and other beers like Zin­nebir, Sai­son 1900. For reser­va­tions, call % 03-2287 2628.

Drinkers unite!

THE re­cent Bud­get 2011 may have spared us a higher tax on al­co­hol, but the fact re­mains that Malaysia is one of the most ex­pen­sive coun­tries to have a beer, cock­tail or any sort of le­gal al­co­hol, for that mat­ter.

With that in mind, a group of con­sumers have formed a group called Al­co­hol-Con­sumer-Rights Group Malaysia (Al­con) to cam­paign for lower prices for al­co­holic bev­er­ages.

“Malaysians pay the high­est price for al­co­hol in the world, next to Nor­we­gians who earn a lot more than we do,” said Deepak Gill, spokesman for the group. “A ma­jor­ity of us are just so­cial drinkers who drink mod­er­ately, and we should not be pe­nalised with such high prices.”

He added that the high price of le­gal al­co­hol also leads to more smug­gling and re­lated il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, and could force peo­ple to turn to cheaper and more harm­ful al­ter­na­tives like moon­shine or lo­cally made com­pounded hard liquor.

To join the cause, visit Al­con’s Face­book page ( http://on.fb.me/bLyWrN). make rum – when you plant sugar cane for sugar, you will get mo­lasses at the end of it; and in­stead of throw­ing it away as waste, the mo­lasses is used to make rum,” he ex­plained. “When you use mo­lasses to pro­duce rum, it re­sults in a more sub­tle kind of sweet­ness. It’s gen­tle, but gives you more bite in the drink it­self.”

With agri­cul­tural rum, the sugar cane is ac­tu­ally planted specif­i­cally to make rum, and the rum is made ex­clu­sively from sugar cane juice. “When you smell agri­cul­tural rum, you get the smell of freshly pressed sugar cane. It also re­tains the orig­i­nal flavour of the sugar cane in it,” said Ng.

Rum cer­tainly has a dark his­tory to it. Be­sides be­ing the spirit of choice for pi­rates of the Caribbean (and we’re not just talk­ing about the movies here), it also used to be a pre­cious com­mod­ity that was used as a bar­gain­ing tool in the slave trade. The Bri­tish Royal Navy also used to hand out daily ra­tions of rum to their sailors to keep them happy (the prac­tice was only stopped in 1970).

While it is hard to truly cat­e­gorise rum prop­erly (there’s light rum, gold rum, aged An­other re­fresh­ing cock­tail us­ing cachaça. rum, dark rum, spiced rum and flavoured rum), it’s eas­ier to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the type of rum by the coun­try each one is pro­duced in. Most rum orig­i­nat­ing from Span­ish-speak­ing coun­tries like Cuba, the Dominican Re­pub­lic, Gu­atemala or Colom­bia tend to be light rum, while English-speak­ing coun­tries like Ja­maica, Ber­muda and Barbados tend to make a darker, more flavour­ful kind of rum. Then, you have the agri­cul­tural rums that are mostly based on old French recipes and made in the French-speak­ing coun­tries like Guade­loupe and Haiti.

Ac­cord­ing to Ng, light rum caters mostly to the white spir­its mar­ket and is used mostly in cock­tails and long drinks. Then you have the dark rums and aged rums, which are drunk al­most on a con­nois­seur level.

“The rum mar­ket in Europe, Aus­tralia and Bri­tain is very well-de­vel­oped. Peo­ple drink high-end stuff like JM or La Mauny, on the rocks or straight,” he said.

Spirit of Brazil

While tech­ni­cally a type of rum, cachaça has earned its right to its own cat­e­gory by virtue of be­ing the only spirit that truly cap­tures the cul­ture and spirit of Brazil.

“Tech­ni­cally, cachaça is a kind of rum as well, but it has a very rich cul­ture and her­itage be­hind it,” said Ng.

Al­legedly first pro­duced by Por­tuguese colonists more than 400 years ago, cachaça is made ex­clu­sively with sugar cane juice and has a lot more sweet­ness and flavour to it than most rum.

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