Less than a year after wading into Cambodia’s beer market, Kingdom Breweries’ first product line has made it into bars and restaurants across Phnom Penh.
Kingdom CEO Peter Brongers said yesterday that the “boutique” beer company began construction on its Phnom Penh facilities in October 2009. Eleven months later, the company’s flagship Clouded Leopard pilsner is being served in about 100 bars and restaurants across the city, he said.
“We’re almost exactly on schedule,” Mr Brongers said.
The next step, Mr Brongers said, is to move his company’s product into watering holes outside Phnom Penh early next year, focusing on Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Battambang and Kompong Cham provinces.
Several weeks ago, a batch of Kingdom beer was distributed to Phnom Penh establishments for tasting before going on sale. Mr Brongers said Clouded Leopard’s flavor has been refined since the samples were distributed.
“We toned down the bitterness and aftertaste,” he said, adding that Clouded Leopard was made with Czech hops and German malt.
About $3.5 million has been invested in Kingdom Brewery and Mr Brongers said he expects the company to begin turning a profit within the next 12 months.
“We think there are not enough high-quality products on the market,” he said. “We always wanted to open a brewery. It is a dream of a boy.”
Mr Brongers describes Kingdom as a “boutique” and “craft” beer company, claiming that his smaller operation allows for more creativity and innovation, whereas larger breweries can be rigid in their product line.
The company plans on offering a special Oktoberfest beer in 2011 and also plans to start selling a stout sometime next year.
Although Mr Brongers said initial sales had gone well, several bar and restaurant managers and owners reached last week said they had not moved many bottles yet. Still, they said the beer has a distinct flavor and believed sales would improve as the brand gains recognition.
“We’ll have a much better gauge on [sales] when we pull into the high season. This has been a particularly slow month,” said Cadillac Bar and Grill general manager Kenny Friedman.
Mr Friedman, whose business is along the riverside on Sisowath Quay, said he enjoyed the refined taste of the Clouded Leopard compared to the first sample, which he described as “too hoppy.”
Eden Thomas, owner of 3 Rivers on Street 258, said he received his first cases of Clouded Leopard on Thursday.
“We’ve sold a couple bottles,” he said. “A good mate of mine, he quite likes it.”