Food & Drink

The Gila Gula Melaka Beer Takes A ‘Gila’ Idea And Makes It Work

Taps Beer Bar offers up a gula Melaka beer imagined by two of their very own.

BY Daniel Goh | Dec 23, 2016 | Reviews

Full disclosure, I do get a little excited when I see, or hear about Malaysian elements somehow involved in international culture. It made me proud that Thomas Harris wrote that the Death’s Head moth, made famous in his novel The Silence of the Lambs, was a species native to Malaysia; and it made me ecstatic when I found out there was a Malaysian company that was incorporating our local Malaysian culture into Swiss-made watches. So when I heard that Taps Beer Bar were offering a beer made with our very own gula Melaka, I just had to leave the office early and head on over to Mont Kiara for a taste. It’s hard work being a lifestyle journalist.

The Gila Gula Melaka Beer was the brainchild of two Malaysians from Taps Beer Bar and was brewed in Japan through a programme offered by the Hitachino Brewing Lab. Back in September 2016 Mili Lim and another beer enthusiast headed over to the old Manseibashi station in Kanda, Tokyo in order to bring this incredible beer to life. Being of Peranakan descent, the choice for using gula Melaka was pretty obvious and so they packed up some of the palm sugar (which was the real deal from Melaka) and boarded their flight to Japan. The entire process took about eight hours where they learned about the process and brewed the beer under the watchful eye of Taisuke Kourai; after that, they left the concoction to ferment for a further two months before it was finally shipped back to Malaysia.

Two of the three different hops used in the brewing of the Gila Gula Melaka Beer.

The result is a brilliant expression of the main ingredient. Brewed as a brown ale style of beer (yes, there is more to beer than whether it comes in pints, buckets, jugs or towers) the colour is dark and bold which is a good reflection of its taste. I was expecting a sweet liquid as I took that first sip but my taste buds were shocked to find instead a very dark and smoky flavour, almost to the point of charcoal as a first impression. This, Mili says is what happens to gula Melaka when you cook it. After that first burst of flavour then the subtle hit of the hero ingredient shines through, lingering in your mouth until you go back for more. I loved it to the last drop.

Available from from December 22 to 25, I suggest you get down to a Taps outlet (there’s one in Changkat and another in Mont Kiara) soon because the beer was brewed in a small batch and once it runs out, that’s it; and there’s no telling if they are going to make a second trip back to Tokyo for round two.