appreciation of the hoppy kind
Jiri Rakosnik, the Marketing Director of Heineken Malaysia, speaks to Robb Report Malaysia on the new Tiger Amber Lager
How does the Heineken portfolio of brands ensure a sufficiently class night out for connoisseurs?
If you look at our portfolio specifically, we have brands that communicate your status or brands that challenge you to achieve that aspirational status, which is also an experience in itself. So this goes beyond the product. Heineken for example, our flagship, signals the global citizen – you can enjoy it in 192 countries with the same great taste. It says that you have seen the world, which is a unique angle. Then of course there’s the 28-day process, which is the product story. Another aspect is our connection to sport, UEFA Champions League football in this case — Ronaldinho touring the world with the trophy. On the silver screen, its James Bond’s beer of choice.
Next to the experience, you have the technical aspect – thats where the education comes in. With stout, this is one for the geeks so to speak. The fact that you know theres 3 million bubbles in every pint to create the perfect foam head, or the two-part pouring process and 120 seconds that it historically takes, all of these things are essential to communicate the premium aspect. The serving rituals are just as important as the beer for me. If I give you another example, like Kirin, they only use the first press in the malting process. This is from the Japanese obsession with clean taste and balance.
Where did the idea or the inspiration for this year’s Tiger Amber Lager come from?
Oktoberfest, or any legacy beer festival, is about celebrating the craftsmanship and also offering something new for festival-goers to taste. We wanted to make this year special and elevate the beer culture, creating a focus on the delicacy of taste. Therefore, we briefed our brewmasters here to craft something for Tiger, with its specific characteristics and bite. And they were successful, striking the balance between uniquely different and eminently recognisable.
We decided to go with an amber lager due to a fortunate event that took place at Munich’s Oktoberfest in 1872. The supply of regular beer had run out, and so the Sedlmayr brewhouse essentially saved the day with märzenbier, their version of amber lager – which was such a hit at
the festival that it become a mainstay in years to come. So as the first locally-crafted brew in Malaysia, we were inspired by this story while ensuring the taste profile fit the local palate. Beyond the beer of course is our collaboration with artists such as Kenji Chai, Beautiful Machines featuring Sling, Jarold Sng, CLOAKWORK and Lynda of Pink Tattoos for the limited edition mugs.
Tell us about the taste brief of Tiger Amber Lager.
For the latter, we wanted it to be more flavourful with a richer mouthfeel without compromising on its refreshing nature. The secret to this is crystal malt, which has a higher degree of caramelisation. The result is darker in colour, while also being richer and sweeter. To compensate, you have to use different or more hops. We do hopping twice here, including post fermentation to maintain the bitterness and aroma. People can try something that is unique, created here and brewed here.
What was the process of innovating a new label like?
Our Malaysian brewmasters have an incredible amount of know-how and creativity, and yet till date have never encountered a challenged like this. The thing about running a brewery of our scale is the one of the primary difficulties is of controlling the quality of the crops that we receive and then adjusting the formula accordingly, but this then becomes quite operational. A project like Tiger Amber Lager brings the brewmasters a lot of joy because they honestly know exactly what to do despite the fact that the formula doesn’t exist anywhere in the world of Tiger beer. If you tell them a taste profile, they immediately know what to alter, add or eliminate. From the briefing to the tasting, the excitement was palpable. And yet, they’re professionals, so you give them a problem, they will simply disappear and reappear with the result.
Lastly, what is an important lesson that you have learned in work and life?
Everything is about relationships. You have to get people excited on entrepreneurial spirit because you can’t achieve things on your own. You may have an idea but you wont be able to pull it off unless you start the fire with the people around you.