Stone Head Cambodia’s Largest Independent Craft Microbrewery Launches Retail and Online Distribution

Stone Head Cambodia Co Ltd. announces the next step on its mission to bring Cambodian Craft Beer to the domestic market.

With a range of 10 unique beers fusing locally inspired flavors and master brewing techniques, they have been brewing at their Craft brewery in Koh Kong since 2015.

Until now Stone Head has focused on establishing an export network to the more developed Thailand and Singapore markets; but with growing domestic demand in Craft Beer they are ideally placed to provide for international and Khmer enthusiasts alike the opportunity to take pride in supporting a local producer.

With an established national sales and distribution network and increasing penetration into the retail and trade sector, they hope that same day delivery will further grow the Craft Community and allow more consumers to enjoy Craft Beer in the comfort of their own home.

Selling mixed and whole cases, customers can order beer online before 9am to receive the same day anywhere in Phnom Penh; with plans to expand to other provinces to suit customer demand.

A spokesperson said ‘With the growth in demand for unique, quality Craft Beer in Cambodia reaching beyond the traditional expat and tourism market; Khmer beer lovers now have a greater opportunity to take pride in their choice to support a domestic Craft brewer. A Cambodian brand who shares their passion for quality beer and independence. Stone Head, with this launch, provides a range of 10 beers to enjoy whether they are at home, hosting a party or simply joining friends for an evening out.’

Established in 2015, Stone Head Cambodia is a rapidly growing craft brewery based out of Koh Kong, Cambodia. Stone Head Cambodia is committed to crafting high-quality, consistent brews and has garnered a loyal local and international following and a strong reputation for its unique beers. Since inception Stone Head Cambodia has also been brewing guest beers and helping small independent enthusiasts realise their potential. The brewery has won numerous awards including “World’s Best Beer 2017” by The World Beer Awards for its The Dark Side Stout. Stone Head Cambodia’s mission has always been that it is about more than beer, it’s community – and supporting the current craft movement.

Hop Hands Update

Happy New Year! For those of you who don’t know. I’ve been working on re-launching an idea of mine from a few years ago, Hop Hands. A way to carry a growler of beer – classical glass, Hydroflasks, 50/50 growers, along with wine bottles and “bombers” (22 oz. beer bottles) – six different ways on a bicycle. As I gear up for 2019, I thought I would share a little update.

Hop Hands.

As one of my favorite 90s singers once said, “It is a growing process.  You can’t just like beer. You have to start somewhere and learn the different flavors.”  (If you are wondering who that singer was – it’s Isaac Hanson, of Mmmbop fame.)

Like learning to like beer, learning to run a business and navigate life is a growing process.  For those of you who don’t know, in the fall of 2017, I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to work for a local non-government organization (NGO) working with victims who have been rescued from human trafficking.  At the same time, Emily was transitioning out of her role at Bridgetown Inc. Emily and her husband were looking for a new adventure. A few signatures later and I’ve become the sole owner of Hop Hands.

Most of 2018, was spent adjusting to a new culture, my new job and learning Khmer.  (Fun fact: the Khmer alphabet is the longest alphabet in the world, consisting of 74 letters.)  I was able to continue to ideate and network for relationships for Hop Hands here in Cambodia. In early 2018, I was connected to another local Cambodian NGO that works with polio victims and disadvantaged women to teach sewing skills.

VillageWorks creates more than just handicrafts.  They are really building the lives of the villagers they work with.  Behind each product they produce, you help support the whole person (or people) who helped create an amazing item.  You support their family and build up lives. This allows villagers to break free from their poverty cycle and find hope in life.

In case you were wondering, it is estimated that 26% of the adult population of Cambodia is illiterate.  18.6% of the population lives below the international poverty life of $1.25/day (USD). 31.4% of children in Cambodia received inadequate care and 36.1% of children are working in child labor.  Cambodia is also a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.

Partnering with an organization like VillageWorks makes sense, not only for the amazing professionalism they encompass here in Cambodia but how encouraging they are to their teams to create amazing products and support one another.

On top of that in 2016, VillageWorks secured guaranteed membership from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).  WFTO is a global network of over 400 organizations and individuals in over 70 countries across the world.  They represent millions of artisans and farmers, most of whom are indigenous people, physically-challenged persons and women.  WFTO prescribes 10 Principles that all Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld:

  1. Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
  2. Transparency and Accountability
  3. Fair Trading Practices
  4. Payment of a Fair Price
  5. Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
  6. Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equality and Freedom of Association
  7. Ensuring Good Working Conditions
  8. Providing Capacity Building
  9. Promoting Fair Trade
  10. Respect for the Environment

When it comes to respecting the environment, the newest version of Hop Hands does not disappoint.  Made from 85% recycled and upcycled products (basically everything but the buckles is recycled). It features the classic southeast Asian recycled fish food or cement bags that offer a little homage from the place of its creation.  Just like before the outside is made of a durable black canvas, although this canvas is sourced from scrap materials left over from larger factories in the area.

Hop Hands raw materials – ethically sourced in Cambodia.
Hop Hands prototype – ethically made and WFTO certified in Cambodia.

Examples of products used in the newest version of the Hop Hands.  Sample version of the Hop Hands, ethically sourced and made in Cambodia.

2019 is shaping up to be a good year for Hop Hands, but I need your help!

  1. Sign up here to be a beta tester.  Since growlers are in (expensive) limited supply here in Cambodia and hardly no one rides bikes in the city of Phnom Penh.  I need some amazing beta testers to help me with the next round of product testing. This means you’ll get access to the latest Hop Hands available in early 2019.
  2. Invite friends to like our Facebook and Instagram channels.  As we get ready to roll out our newest launch.  We need your help getting more beer and bike enthusiast interested in learning more about Hop Hands.
  3. Got questions?  Email me directly.  I’d love to chat about Cambodia, Hop Hands, ethical sourcing and more with you.

Once again, thank you for following the Hop Hands journey.  I hope you had an amazing holiday season and hope 2019 is just as exciting for you as it is for Hop Hands.  

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Cheers!

Jenna Forstrom

Hop Hands Founder

jenna@hophands.com

Rumblefish’s Ginger Beer – Kampot, Cambodia

What does coffee and beer have in common? There are some great beers with coffee in them for one. But what about a coffee roaster who also moonlights as a ginger beer brewer? I managed to cross paths with one such man while on vacation in Kampot, Cambodia.

On a mission to pick up good coffee for a friend back in Phnom Penh. I came across, Rumble Fish Roasters. This roaster aims to showcase the best of South East Asian coffee. They believe that every step in the coffee process from the ‘farm to the cup’ is important to ensure an outstanding final product. By placing emphasis on locally and regionally produced coffee their endeavour has helped grow the local specialty coffee market and supports the farmers and families involved. To achieve this they direct source their beans and carefully roast them at their custom roastery located in Kampot. Utilising invaluable years of experience and time honoured artisan techniques.

Rumblefish's Ginger Beer at their roastery.
Rumblefish’s Ginger Beer at their roastery.

Rumblefish’s Ginger Beer is brewed in house. Always served with a lime. It is strong and refreshing on a hot Cambodian day. I personally found it a little bitter and mixed in a spoonful of sugar from the coffee bar to make it a little sweeter and more enjoyable. It is the same recipe the owner of the coffee shop has been using for over 13 years.

On top of supporting local farmers and families. Rumblefish works with a strong team of young Khmer who all came to work for them with no prior experience and little to no English skills. With a fresh slate and a desire to learn the trade, these young Khmer are given the opportunity to experiment, grow and move up the chain at the roastery.

Kampot, Cambodia is becoming a micro hub for southeast Asian beers, with a local brewery and imported beers from just across the border of Vietnam. It is getting easier and easier to find great beer in Cambodia.

What is your favorite international beer?

Flowers Nanobrewery – Kampot, Cambodia

It’s no secret that my favorite town in Cambodia is Kampot. Whenever I have a long weekend, I try to head to Kampot with my dog to do some exploring. Cambodia doesn’t have many microbreweries, but even Kampot has its own microbrewery, Flowers Nanobrewery!

Originally from Japan, head brewmaster now calls Kampot, Cambodia home. In a country where sushi and craft beer are in low supply, Flowers Nanobrewery has both. I enjoy following them on Facebook. He constantly shows photos of fresh fish and his motorcycle loaded with brewing supplies from a recent border run to stock up on craft brewing supplies.

3 motorcycles, 20 buckets, 5kg of hops, 5kg of bottle crown caps, and 50kg of malt bag. Safely delivered to Kampot from Ha Tien, Vietnam. We’ll brew hard.

Whenever I’m in Kampot, I try to keep an eye out for their beers at local restaurants. I’ve had the chance to try two of their flagship beers:

Black Cat Boogie, this we found via Facebook post that it was available at a backpacker’s bungalow – a short walk across town and we found this sweet, yet dark, wheat porter. Black Cat Boogie is 5.9% ABV.

Duck Walk IPA, a decent IPA in a land where a good IPA is hard to find. (I used to live in Portland, Oregon, USA and hated IPAs – one year in Cambodia and I really miss good IPAs now.) Duck Walk IPA is 6.7% ABV.

Blind Lemon, which is a lemongrass pale ale, that I absolutely love. Lemongrass is easy to come by here in Cambodia and I love when breweries use locally sourced ingredients for a great craft beer. Blind Lemon is 5.3% ABV.

Blind Lemon can be found at the best Tex-Mex in Kampot, GringoLoco!

Have you ever been to Flowers Nanobrewery? What did you think of it? Ever been to Cambodia? What is your favorite brewery?

East West Brewing Company – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The brewing process in Vietnamese.

Recently, I had to the chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with my father.  He has worked there on and off for decades.  One of the breweries he told me we had to check out was East West Brewing Company.  East West Brewing Company is Ho Chi Minh City’s first in-house craft brewery located in the heart of District 1. Delivering bold and authentic flavors using the freshest and finest quality ingredients from the East to the West.  Their mission is to artfully craft high quality beer that everyone can enjoy and foster integrity in everything they do. Authenticity and innovation are the core foundations for the flavors in every handcrafted beer that they brew.  It begins with the search for flavor of discovering the perfect balance of taste and aroma. They integrate both European and New American brewing traditions, along with the brewing styles of Eastern cultures.

Love this message!

The cool thing about East West Brewing Company is that their Head Brewer, Sean Thommen, has Portland, Oregon, USA roots.  Sean has had over 15 years of combined experience with crafting, from homebrewing to professionally brewing. He studied in Chicago and Germany in brewing science, and began brewing professionally for over 10 years in the city of Portland, Oregon, USA.  Sean is extremely excited to share his extensive brewing knowledge and is dedicated to advancing the craft beer culture here in Vietnam.

With a population of over 10 million, Ho Chi Minh City is one of South East Asia’s fastest growing cities in conjunction with being Vietnam’s largest and most electrifying city. It brings life and vitality into foreign backpackers, travelers, expats, and all those who settle here.  A crowded, lively, bustling, and booming city barely scratches the surface of describing the city that is the heart of Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City.

Love their logo.

Here is what we tried:

  • Far East IPA – The Far East IPA takes an international route. This full-bodied India Pale Ale is loaded with malt, hops, and yeast from all over the world. From aromatic American centennial hops to New Zealand’s tropical Nelson Sauvin hops, this beer provides a beautiful inter-pacific aroma that is enjoyable all year round.
  • Saigon Rose – This crisp and light bodied wheat ale contains a refreshing acidity and luscious fruit forward profile of fresh raspberries. Pink rose hues and berry perfumes, the Saigon Rosé delivers a crisp, clean, and subtle sweetness that is perfect for any occasion.  Hands down my favorite beer that we tried.  I also heard a rumor that my sister-in-law also loved it.
  • Modern Belgian Blonde – Deceivingly strong, with aromas of bold bouquets from the Belgian yeast and unique blend of hops, Far East Brewing Company present to you their Modern Belgian Blonde. Malts provide a strong foundation, while balancing the medley of pilsner, pale, and wheat hops. An infusion of Vietnamese palm sugar provides a contemporary twist to this Belgian classic.
  • Coffee Vanilla Porter – Their Coffee Vanilla Porter uses a unique cold press coffee blend designed to compliment the robust character of the beer. The interplay of deep roasted malts and Vietnamese coffee are perfectly married, while the addition of vanilla contributes layers of decadence. It is truly smoothness in a glass.

Have you been to East West Brewing Company?  Or Ho Chi Minh City?