Taiwanese whisky maker ventures into world of beer

Major Taiwanese food and beverage conglomerate King Car Group launched its first line of beer on Wednesday, eyeing the domestic market that has long been dominated by one major brewer, Taiwan Beer.

The German-style beer, Buckskin, is a light beer available in two varieties, Munich Helles and Hefeweizen, the latter of which differs in having a natural fruity taste.

(Dancers perform traditional style of Germany folk dance at the beer launch)

Albert Lee, chief executive officer of the King Car Group, which opened Taiwan’s first whisky distillery in 2005, launched the beer at the group’s newly constructed brewery in Taoyuan, northwestern Taiwan.

Malts, hops and yeast, as well as the brewing equipment, are all imported from Germany, he told a press conference.

To make real German-style beer, Georg Rittmayer, whose family has been in the brewing business in Germany since 1422, was hired as chief consultant of the brewing team.

Currently, Taiwan Beer, brewed by the publicly owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. that succeeded the government’s monopoly bureau in 2002, accounts for about 60 percent of domestic market share.

It is followed by Dutch brewer Heineken, with about 15 percent, and Japanese brand Kirin, with about 10 percent.

Lee said he has no intention to “defeat” the top three brands, but merely seeks to “expand the local market.”

He said his brewery will roll out 10,000 tons of beer annually.

The group’s whisky brand Kavalan, launched in 2008, has won many prizes in international competitions.

It also produces and sells many non-alcohol beverages including Mr. Brown coffee and Pocari Sweat sports drink, the latter as part of a joint venture with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. of Japan.

All – Kyodo News+

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