Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Meet the Brewer (s)

This weeks main goals were to meet the brewing community here in Singapore and get the equipment contract awarded. The first turned out to be no problem and (as you might imagine) fun, the later turned out to be more complicated (and is still on going).

There are only three breweries currently operating in Singapore; Asia Pacific Breweries (us), Brewerkz (a brew pub that makes Canadian/American style beers – the head brewer from the great white north), and Paulaner (they have a chain of brewpubs around Asia). Tuesday morning I dropped by Brewerkz to meet Scott (the head brewer) and Devin (the managing director). Both of them were very friendly and open. I got a tour around all three of their restaurants and the brewing facility. They are doing about 3,000 hl (about 2,500 Bbls) out of a 15 hl system in less than 1600 square feet – and selling more than 95% of it across the bar (s). I think any brewpub would be happy with those numbers. They also operate a small wine bar, and a separate tequila bar just next door (visited and approved by Julio of Tommy’s Fame – one has to wonder if there is any place that Julio has not been or anyone connected with tequila that Julio does not know?). Of course both their other bars make the Brewerkz beers available. They make about 10 beers and had on a very nice cask conditioned pale when I was there. I spent several hours with those guys, drinking coffee, discussing beer and brewing in Asia and occasionally watching a bit of the playoffs – go go Sox - the evening games air in the morning here. I need to somehow figure out how to watch the series and still be at work. Hmmm.

The next evening I met up with Singapore’s first (and only) home brew club. They officially meet once a month, but they also have unofficial meeting or the occasional overnight trip to tour a brewery in Indonesia or Malaysia (both right next door). We are trying to organize a trip to a small brewery in Indonesia for sometime next month (yeah, it’sa tough job). Home brewing has only been legal in Singapore for about 18 months. Beyond the newness of it all there are several other things working against the average home brewer here; the hot humid climate makes fermentation temperature control difficult, it promotes bacteria and mold growth, supplies are difficult to come by, and most people live in small apartments (with even smaller kitchens) without room for brewing or storage of the equipment. But these things have not daunted the home brewers I met. They were all very enthusiastic and excited to brew their next batch of beer. Even those members who were not currently brewing at home were very interested in learning more about beer and the brewing process. They were all very friendly and we had a great time drinking beers and swapping stories. We are currently trying to organize a pub tour for next week. Each member will choose a place to go and we will cab around the island testing out watering hole. This will be an extra bonus for me because not only will I get to see a few new bars, but I will be able to asses whether they might be good candidates to carry the Archipelago beers when we start brewing later next year. It IS a tough job.

Yes, the picture here does look a lot like the one in Germany, but with different faces. See how hard I am working. (Pictured: The Singapore HomeBrew Club & Friends)


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