By Sarah and Ross Jones, and Monica Tindall
Quality craft beer is more frequently creeping its way into Malaysia, and The Great Beer Bar is one of the unique places leading the charge. The environment of The Great Beer bar is reminiscent of many a small gastropub in Australia or the US. Long tables encourage open conversation and a small outdoor seating section for those that enjoy a smoke with their suds. The decor is minimalist: Ken speaks of adorning more, but we like the open Nordic style – it encourages one to focus on the beer and conversation. There is no proper bar, just open taps and a chiller on the wall, excellent for connecting the staff with the customer. This will be a feather in the Great Beer Bar’s cap.
|The Great Beer Bar|
As they have recently opened, they are still developing the final touches, but one aspect Ken will continue to focus on is the limited distractions (no TV, no loud music). This encourages interesting conversations to take place, guests can actually hear each other, and customers can even meander from one location to another to meet new people or join in the camaraderie of others.
|Craft Beer on Tap|
The Great Beer Bar rotates its taps as frequently as kegs runs dry. This ensures for almost a daily change in its offerings and variety, while always ensuring the beer is fresh. The selection on the day we visited was diverse: an IPA for the hop lover, a Strong Ale for the ones that like an extra kick, a Coffee Milk Stout for those who are after a full taste; and two medium body beers: a Pale Ale and a Hoppy Amber Ale. These taps change frequently, but this offers a glimpse of what to expect on a visit. Each beer had the perfect pour and was refreshing and cold – a key to success in the Malaysian jungle! Although we are not typically a fan of hoppy beer, both the IPA and Amber Ale offered flavorful crispness without the bite of the hops.
|Coffee Milk Stout|
Ken knows that people are picky about their beers and having a diverse selection is a must. If one does not find their favorite style on tap, they will definitely find it in the chilled bottle section. There is also an option for carry-out – something we took advantage of in order to bring a few of our favs back home to enjoy.
|Beer for Take Away|
Ken admits that beer is the Ace of Spades for the Great Beer Bar. So, for this reason he has partnered up with a selection of local restaurateurs and food truck operators to provide some tasty, fresh eats to pair with all the great beer. Food changes almost as much as the beer does, so we recommend checking out their (frequently updated) Facebook page to see what they are serving.
On our visit, Curbside Cantina (they are in the kitchen from Sunday to Thursday) was manning the kitchen, and they offered an excellent selection of food to be paired with our beers. The food portions were just the right size for a small plate style dinner or just to have a snack with a brew. Given the frequent changes in the kitchen hosts, freshness of food is guaranteed, as is variety.
The food we sampled was Asian infused with Latin favorites: Chilaquiles: homemade flour tortilla chips, salsa, and crumbled feta; Shrimp Quesa-Tacos: small tortillas topped with melted cheese, fresh salsa, shrimp paste, and fresh lime; Quesadillas (some of the fullest we’ve seen in KL): chicken, local beans, pickled ginger, cheese and fresh salsa. The homemade chips and tortillas are some of the best we’ve tasted; we even asked if we could buy some to bring home with us. Though we were initially unsure of the shrimp paste topping for the quesa-tacos, this ended up being the favorite for all three of us.
We also sampled some not-so-Latin fare like Pate Toast with Condensed Milk and Dry Spicy Chicken Wings with radish salad. The wings were full of flavor, with the spiciness complimenting the beer without the typical mess and grease that can be typical of wings in many bars. As previously stated, the menu changes frequently – Ken was (greatly) anticipating some oxtail tacos coming in the next few days (and they popped up on Facebook a few days later).
|Pate Toast with Condensed Milk|
|Dry Spicy Chicken Wings|
Food can be modified for vegetarians as well, just ask. Ken encourages them to experiment and innovate for his customers, something he enjoys possibly more than the customers.
Reasons to visit: craft beers, beer and food variety, freshness, and the possibility of interesting conversations
The Great Beer Bar
86 Jalan SS 21/62
47400 Petaling Jaya
+60 3-7731 5946
Not a beer drinker, so this one wouldn't be high on my list of hangouts. Good looking food though.
You know what Linda, I'm not really a beer drinker myself either, but these craft brews I don't mind.
Sarah, Ross and Monica.
I am sorry as I come from a Publican family that the bars
that you describe no longer exist in cities anywhere here in Qld.
And I think you could easily say everywhere in Australia, except maybe
Western Australia – no poker machines yet in pubs / bars.
These two "mongrels", W/worths and Coles, have taken out hotel licences
all throughout Australia. All they need is to buy one in a country town or a city
suburb, then drop the prices and ruin the freehold owners who treat customers
as humans – not creatures to fleece!
Once these two conglomerates have got control – up jump the prices and the
damage has been done.
Some bars now only have limited (very) seating except in front
of poker machines and the TAB!!
It is a bloody disgrace.
The only LIMITED space for having a talk with your beer is in the
now very limited smoking areas!! I smoke so I can chat out there
in what was once a beer garden environment.
The great days of old have disappeared like water down a drain – this
time the drain is into the banks of the Multi-Nationals!!
Bloody Wall Street and the US have a lot to answer for. GREED!
Lets hope the KL etc doesn't meet the same fate as we have here!
The bars described above were great meeting places for tourists from
all over with the locals. Great fun times in these places have I enjoyed.
Now I need a drink to calm myself!
Colin (Brisbane. Australia)
That's sad to hear. I grew up in country Australia and the pubs were just as described above. Oh yes, I do remember fondly the beer gardens too. They were great social meeting places for the whole community. Not nice to hear the iconic Aussie pub is disappearing.
None for me, but I wouldn't mind the finger foods. 😀
Interesting flavors they have there, i hope the beers are not too expensive
Interesting to see the beers and im sure the patrons do enjoy…not a beer drinker myself but it's nice to admire..:)
looks good.. How are their prices?
Ross / Sarah and Monica.
Yes what are the prices – convert to A$'s please.
Some Aussies mates have looked at my attack on the
mongrel supermarket chains here and their buying of pubs
and bars – they said I should have BLASTED their bastardry more for your
Prices vary greatly depending on the brew. They have beers from around the world. Bottles start at around RM17 – maybe AUD$5 or $6 and go up from there. If I recall most of the beers on tap were just over RM30 – or AUD$10. Alcohol and import taxes are extremely high over here.
That is pretty steep for the locals.
Beer in bars as you describe in this blog in Thailand,
Bali, the Philippines and Taiwan – I have been told are far
cheaper – they certainly were far cheaper than in Australia on my
visits – that is the local brew, which was pretty good – Bintang etc.
Thanks for the information, some of my mates today thought the
Malay and Singapore beer prices were steeper than here.
Local beer is a different story. You can get Tiger for about RM7 (AUD $2.50) a can from the store. This bar however specializes in craft brews. They have some Aussie boutique beers every now and then too.It's surprising to see the development of alcohol production in the region. Some Asian countries are even growing and processing their own wine these days and are producing some surprisingly good drops.
Tiger Beer!!! – I quite like Tiger. Certainly an enjoyable drop in the tropics.
I have seen it on "Tap" here and can be purchased from bottle shops
which regrettably are also now mostly owned by W/worths ( B.W.S) and
Fortunately there are some excellent privately owned liquor outlets and
and are very competitive with the Multi-national owned.
there should be more of these in KL:D
I love to drink chilled fruit beer in the summer.
Strawberry, raspberry, pear, apricot, etc these are some of my faves. 🙂
Not sure you can get them in Malaysia though.
Keep searching 🙂
I tried a cherry beer at this place. It has a very sour taste, but was very addictive in flavour.
hmm, called me old style but i think i only like the classic beer or dark beer only….
the finger food looks so good thou….
[email protected] Chef
I don't drink but some of these nibbles look great with beer, especially the fried chicken 🙂