Myanmar’s Dagon Beverages Co began its journey to becoming an AIBA champion with a single bronze medal at the competition in 2008.
Dagon was named Champion Large International Brewery this year, picking up the Best European Style Lager trophy for Dagon Extra Strong Beer, as well as the only Gold Medal in the American Style Lager category, for Dagon Lager Beer.
The surprise result out of a country little known for brewing excellence has not been achieved overnight, Dagon brewmaster Chan Chingfook told Brews News.
He said Dagon has had a persistent focus on improving its beer quality based on feedback from AIBA judges over the last decade.
“AIBA is a highly respectable international platform for us to gain world recognition and to benchmark against our peers,” he said.
“In 2008, we received the first Bronze Medal and since then we have been working hard on improving the technical qualities.
“Since 2008 to 2016, we were awarded a total of 14 Bronze medals, eight Silver and two Gold medals.
“It took us six years and in 2014, Dagon struck the first Gold and the second Gold in 2015,” Chingfook said.
Yeast and packaging
Feedback from judges over previous years indicated the company needed to focus more heavily on plant hygiene and yeast quality, Chingfook said.
“We monitor closely on both important elements. We do understand the importance of yeast vitality and viability in every pitching. Good yeast gives us good beer,” he said.
“Two years ago, we have also invested on new packaging lines for cans and bottles from Krones, Germany, for better filling technique as well as to meet the growing market.”
Up until recently, Dagon’s main competition was local outfit Myanmar Brewery, with a similar volume of beer flowing into the country from China and Thailand, Chingfook said.
He said the recent entries of Heineken and Carlsberg into Myanmar had made beer quality more important than ever for domestic brewers.
“With the arrival of big players, on top of pricing, product quality is critical,” he said.
“Today, local brands are still leading the market. It is now more important for us to have these international AIBA awards to inform our consumers that our beer is world standard.”
Chingfook said the AIBA honours made Dagon Beverages’ entire technical team feel “extremely proud, happy and highly motivated”.
“It is certainly a great achievement for the whole technical team and we should not stop here but strive for ‘continuous Improvement’,” he said.