© 2014 SLODE Pte Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.
Spooned.
CATEGORIES

#488

BEAUTY AND THE YEAST

02 May 2017 By

Singapore’s brewing scene is hopping along quite nicely, thank you. Here are some new brewers you should know about.

What’s up with the Singapore craft beer scene? In local parlance, it’s quite happening man. If you’ve been to any of the homebrew competitions, you’d realise that crowds are at a record high; if you’re buying tickets, you’d notice there are more major beer festivals around; and if you’re drinking at the craft corners, you’d have seen a slew of new local brews out there.

Kevin Ngan, a partner at Good Luck Beerhouse, is a big supporter of local brews and regularly features the rising stars on his bar’s taps: “I am excited that there are more craft brewers in Singapore, as they will spur each other to improve on their craft and fill the gap that’s missing in the Singapore craft beer story, which has been largely dominated by imported products for a long time. Every market needs to have local champions to rally around and today we have three – Brewlander, Innocence brewing and Rye & Pints.”

smith street taps daniel goh

“What’s impressive is that each of the three new breweries bring different flavours and styles that both compete with, as well as complement, existing offerings in Singapore’s beer market,” adds Daniel Goh (above), owner of The Good Beer Company and Smith Street Taps. The one that stands out for him is John Wei of Brewlander (see interview below). “Wei was an award-winning homebrewer before he turned pro. It’ll be interesting to see which of those award-winning beers he can make well on a commercial basis.”

Incidentally Wei, of Brewlander, makes his beers in Cambodia and ships it home. “I could not get access to the capacity we needed as a gypsy brewery in Singapore, and there’s a lack of a solid bottling line locally. I didn’t want to bottle if the process is not up to standard, because I aim to give everyone a brewery-fresh experience with all our beers. Also, the brewery in Cambodia allows me to go in and do everything myself, and on my own terms; this allows me to retain both creative and quality control,” Wei says.

brewlander singapore beer

John Wei having waaaaay too much fun in Cambodia.

Contrary to popular belief that everything in Cambodia is cheap(er), “logistics, cold warehouse, electricity and tax in Cambodia are really expensive. All these challenges are forcing us to grow very fast, on a very steep learning curve, but it’s even more satisfying when we see the fruits of our labour being enjoyed by people who drink our beer,” he adds.

Ngan also rates Wei highly, and considers him the standard bearer for the local homebrewing scene. “From his first brew that we all tasted, he’s definitely lived up to the expectations. I think as a whole, the nascent brewing community in Singapore is taking a huge step forward this year. Their development is probably one of the most important piece in the whole craft beer eco-system.”

Because of obvious obstacles (legislation and Singapore’s unique level of bureaucratic hell), we only currently have three small craft brewers to speak about (sit down, Archipelago), and one of them brews in Cambodia (likewise, Sichuan Pepper Gin is distilled in Thailand and imported home). So what’s needed to help the scene along?

Ngan suggests that regulatory framework can be adjusted to support small independent craft brewers, especially in the area of taxation – which takes up a lot of working capital. “That would provide the impetus for more homebrewers to consider brewing as a career,” he says.

Michael Wong, brewer at Innocence Brewing, adds: “Starting a new business is always trying, from learning about the market to ensuring regulations are met. But the journey has been fulfilling.”

“A reduction in alcohol tax would be just the thing, but we know that’s never going to happen,” Goh sums it up more pithily.

So how can you help, readers? Seek them out and drink more local craft beers.

 

BREWLANDER & CO

brewlander beer singapore

Brewlander & Co are rightly known as Singapore’s first gypsy brewery – they brew all their stuff in Cambodia and then ship it back home. They use premium malts from UK and Europe, and premium liquid yeast cultures, and try to have a sense of fun and humour with the process, about their beers are named after “emotions”, and brewer John Wei adds: “If it aint fun, why’re you doing it?”

What’s your beer background: champion brewer, enthusiastic drinker, beer pong champion?

I started off as an enthusiastic drinker after I fell in love with English cask conditioned ales. I later found that about the possibilities of homebrewing from a friend who’d just returned from LA. That meeting started me on my homebrewing journey, and I’ve been fortunate to have won a couple of homebrewing awards locally since 2013.

john wei brewlander beer

What’s with the name?

Brewlander was really the name of my brewing blog, where I detail my homebrewing thought process and journey. The name was inspired by the movie character Zoolander. Brewing is really a hobby for me, something that’s a lot of fun. I like how Zoolander is not only a larger than life character, but also has the ability of make fun of ourselves, to not take ourselves too seriously, and joke about our insecurities (like the character). I appreciate a wicked sense of humour, so I just it was kind of taking the piss with the name!
So, many in the local homebrew and craft beer scene already associated me as Brewlander, and have asked me through the years about when Brewlander beers would be on the shelves. So I guess it was the natural choice to retain that name.

What’s the most difficult issue in starting a local brew?

The most immediate issue was selling the beers. Brewing is easy part, but for a guy who’s never sold a single bottle of beer to producing and selling 6,000 bottles a batch, it’s just a nightmare and a challenge. I have had a lot of people tell they will be happy to pay for my beers (re: my homebrews, if it was on shelves), but the reality between drinking a free homebrew and something that one has to pay good money for is very different.
It was just very intimidating and overwhelming at the start.
Other than that, I don’t see anything thing as a major issue other than what’s to be expected for any new startup.

brewlander singapore beer

What’s in your line-up now, and what new ones can we look forward to?

I currently have a Summer Ale which is great for our tropics, a Saison which is a refreshing Belgian Ale which complements our Asian food.
The Wild IPA is a gamble that’s paid off; it’s wild because we use a peculiar strain of wild yeast that creates a really fruity and juicy aroma, and flavor, without the funkiness of other wild yeast strains. It’s definitely not something common and probably a harder sell at the bars, but it’s our best seller and highest-rated beer. We also have a Double IPA for guys who want something stronger.
Going forward, I’ll add a Porter, a Session IPA and a Hoppy Wheat which is nothing like a classic German Weizenbier. There are also plans to add a small barrel-aging program, but we are taking baby steps at the moment.

singapore brewers beer beerhouse

Good Luck Beerhouse usually has Singapore brews on tap (9 Haji Lane).

Where do you usually drink?

I guess it depends on where my friends are hanging out. I do like drinking at pubs where the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, or where business owners have already become drinking buddies, places like Freehhouse, Good Luck Beerhouse (above), Smith Street Taps, Thirsty Liang Court, and Alchemy. I also do enjoy going places for a quiet drink by myself to unwind. For example, Valle which is in a condo, Colbar at Portsdown, Great Beer Experiment.

Any other local brews you like and wanna recommend?

I like the Oatmeal Stout from Brewerkz, the Irish Stout from my friends at Little Island Brewery. Innocence’s Citrus Crush Belgian IPA was very enjoyable, and I told Michael that it’s his best effort to date (I’m really pleased for him).
I’ll also be looking out for the boys at Rye & Pint, because they have been putting out some promising beers from their first few batches. I’m rooting for them to fine tune their process and offer us greater tasting beers.

 

INNOCENCE BREWING

innocence brewing singapore beer

Michael Wong grew up in Guam, and with his brother would go to bars on a mission to try every single beer on the menu. Over 20 years, Michael worked and drank his way across the USA, Europe and Australia. After learning the craft of traditional beer brewing in the UK, he finally settled in Singapore where he opened Innocence Brewing with a mission to make accessible and easy-drinking beers. In early 2016, his first batch of commercially-ready beer hit the market.

What’s your beer background: champion brewer, enthusiastic drinker, ​beer pong champion?

Champion drinker, mad brewer.

What’s with the name?

We love creating simple beers while also having some occasional fun with interesting flavours. Our name reflects our childlike enthusiasm for the craft also, as well as our dedication to keeping it a true craft product. Having said that, our tagline, Wicked Good Beer, shows that we also don’t take ourselves too seriously and want people to have as much fun drinking our beers as we did making it. 

innocence brewing singapore beer

What’s been the most rewarding moment?

Finding and hearing how much people love our beers is definitely on the top to the list. But being able to do something we’re passionate about is itself an endlessly rewarding moment. 

calamity-coffee innocence brewing singapore beer

What’s in your line-up now, and what new ones can we look forward to?

We are quite in love with our Calamity Coffee (above) as well as our Wayward Wheat and Insidious IPA offering. We are cooking up new seasonals; keep a lookout on our Facebook page. 

Where do you usually drink?

I visit many bars weekly to get a sense of what’s going on. 

Both Innocence and Brewlander can be found at the above-mentioned outlets, as well the other craft beer bars.

Like this? Can Next Level design drive the beer world?

Like this? 7 rules for buying beer at a grocery store

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Google+Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

You might be interested in...

#487 No.

Crappy beer is a silent killer. It doesn’t make a sound. It sneaks up on you, and without notice, ruins your post-gym, its-been-a-long-day refreshment. But you can arm yourself. You can stay safe.

#467 No.

From risk-taking trailblazers to the rise of beer geeks, we look at how America evolved from a laughing stock to a suds powerhouse.

#457 No.

In one night, we barhopped to six bars, and drank six rum cocktails made by the finalists of the Bacardi Legacy 2017 competition – just for you. Here's why you should do the same. (Hint: Win a trip to Berlin)