Craft brew institutions have come and gone in this city of ours, but Taps Beer Bar is showing remarkable tenacity in the face of our love for the big branded breweries.
Like most niche businesses in KL, Taps came about because there was a clear absence of a dedicated craft brew bar – an absence that a particular group of cousins felt quite keenly. ‘We just couldn’t get good beer in town,’ says Mili Lim, the only girl in the gang of five. ‘And we drink a lot of beer.’ So the cousins opened their own bar. Mili and her brother Alvin manage the day to day operations, but all five of them (including cousins Aaron, Adrian and Brian) partake in the most strenuous part of the job: choosing the beers. The five are regular travellers and pick up beers on their way around the world, scheduling dedicated beer trips throughout the year – England one month, Japan another. Two of the cousins are based in Melbourne and so have the pick of some of the world’s most interesting breweries.
The space is a low-key, friendly one: bare cement floor, exposed brick walls, a moveable performance space and a whole load of empty beer bottles along the wall (‘We get through that much in a good weekend,’ Mili says, gesturing to a section of the wall). At any one time there are 14 beers on tap; when one runs out, it’s replaced by something new and different. A large blackboard is chalked up with what’s on offer at the moment, and if you can’t decide, you can get a couple of tasting portions (but don’t push your luck).
On our visit the taps were stocked with Hitachino brews from Japan, ales from Oregon’s Rogue Ales, a sharp pear cider from Australian brewery 2 Brothers Brewery, and beery representatives from all over the world: Norway’s Nøgne Ø, Scotland’s BrewDog, Australia’s Mountain Goat and England’s Wychwood Brewery. We got straight into the Hitachino Nest pale ale, a beautiful coppery pour with notes of caramel and summer fruits, and then chased it with a taster of the pear cider.
Taps is very much a family business – Mili’s uncle is often the singer in the band (literally) and his musical friends have been known to get up on stage and jam. If you’re not lucky enough to catch them, there are live bands on every night from Thursdays to Saturdays; Taps is particularly keen on supporting young and upcoming musicians. Plus, they’ve got a special beer pairing menu – who needs wine to have a good time?
As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL