Not after booking a relatively spontaneous trip to Malaysia your correspondent soon arrived at the conclusion that beer boundaries weren’t going to be pushed. That may change in Kuala Lumpur, but so far it has been a steady diet of Malaysian brewed Euroswill™.
That’s largely explained by the majority Islam population’s view of alcohol. Whilst I don’t believe punishment is meted out as per the Melaka penal code on the photo (new twist on 150 Lashes), it is a tough trade to break into. When I tried to find out the provenance of Napex Brewing, the brewer of Legend Lager and Legend Black, I learnt that Napex controversially received only the third major brewing licence in 2007. Some conservative Islamists were rather annoyed that their lobbying was ignored and there was considerable surprise when Napex got their piece of paper. Based on the availability of Legend brews in Melaka they’ve found it hard to bust the duopoly of Carlsberg Malaysia and Asia Pacific (makers of Tiger). I’ve only seen it in 300ml cans and long necks.
Napex Brewery make at least three different beers, Legend Premium Lager, Legend Black Premium Lager and Jaz. So far I haven’t come across the Jaz – but there’s four days coming up in Kuala Lumpur, so plenty of time to uncover it. Legend Premium Lager is standard Euroswill™. Legend Black is actually pretty interesting. Roasted malt with more than a hint of coffee and comes in at 5.5% ABV. Weirdly, carbon dioxide is listed as an agreement in both beers.
The best place to drink in Melaka is on the river at night. Along the left bank looking north from the bridge that crosses from Dutch Square to Jonker Street are a string of bars that do beer buckets or long necks without fleecing you. No Vietnam prices here. Expect $3.50 a stubbie and $6 for a long neck. Watching the Melaka River cruises on the colourful river sipping a Legend is a relaxing experience.
And what about Melaka? Well, I reckon you can knock it off in two days and one night. Make that night a Friday, Saturday or Sunday and you can enjoy the Jonker Street night market, which is great fun. There’s plenty of history in Melaka which has had plenty of different races rule it over the years (Indigenous, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Poms and now self rule). The food is fabulous, but my experience is now that the food is fabulous all over Malaysia.
Next stop – Penang.