Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Just Like an Erector Set

They will be pouring the second story columns early next week and then the steel roofing beams will be set in place a few days later. Before the new year arrives the brewery will have a roof. And if I learn any more about building the government may press me into service as a contractor. No, really what I don't know about construction could fill a stadium. But I have learned a lot. Things I didn't know about a construction crews life, that I know more about now than I ever imagined I would are: Bore pilings, air handling, security systems, highbay lighting, wiring diagrams, drain layout, service load, slab sloping, rebar, Crain hoist angles, load bearing points, screeting, LUX, AHU, BAS, PID, ASME, GRLWEP, OMG - WTF !! (I really thought that some of these terms meant something completely different - but we won't go into that now)

Meanwhile, on the equipment side, we continue to discuss the relative merits (or lack there of) of the different grades of stainless steel. After much research and discussion we have concluded that the 316 TI is in fact superior to the 316L despite the higher carbon level in 316 TI (but as you may have already surmised the addition of the Titanium in 316 TI binds with that additional carbon and creates and even more corrosion resistant metal, well that and the addition of the Molybdenum, but I don't need to tell you about the Molybdenum in the 316 - right ?). I pity the fools who are still using 304.

Well, all this keeps me on my toes and when it is all said and done I'll know that building and the equipment from the inside out. The learning this job reqiured is one of the main reasons I wanted it and one of the things I enjoy most about it. I just needed to tell somebody about it. Thanks.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mode of Operation

I’m not sure if it’s the heat (actually it’s not that hot for Singapore – a rather pleasant 84 degrees F) or if it is the impending nearness of the holidays, but I can’t quite seem to get motivated to write. I have started this blog entry about forty times now, and each time I stumble, falter and can’t find the will to go on. Maybe it's that so much has happened since that last time I was able to put fingers to keyboard. No matter, tonight I will forge ahead. The brewery building is over 30% completed (for all the great new photos visit - ). The entire building will be complete by January 28th or we will have some real trouble. Come the evening of January 28 all the workers pack their bags and leave (for points unknown) to celebrate Chinese new years, which by all reports will last for the following 2 to 3 week. I am told that February is a lost cause. And by the nervous look on the contractor face when people pleasantly rib him about the work stopping I believe that it’s for real. So, in less than 50 day we will have a completed home for our new brewery.

The brewing equipment on the other hand will not be ready until March15th, and I am a little skeptical of that date. Although there will be no Chinese new years to slow them down (the equipments being made in Europe), I fear other factors will. Even is it is completed and loaded on the boat it still has to be shipped all the way down here. Equipment just seems to take longer. We shall see. We are planning on commissioning the brewery by the early May and have beer for the masses by early June. I am really anxious to get to the brewing.

In the meantime I have arranged to do some test brews at the Length Brewery in nearby Indonesia. The owners and the brewer are extremely nice and helpful, and I am hoping that the relationship can work out to be mutually beneficial well into the future. The brewery (pictured here) is just 3 hectoliters but it is the perfect size for our needs and it supplies them with beer very nicely as well. They make beer for their pub and a few outlets around town. The brewer speaks very little English so I will need to take my friend Ernest along to translate. I am exceedingly lucky to have Ernest there to help me out, not only can he speak Mandarin and English fluently, he is a UC Davis trained brewer, so he knows the Chinese words for brewing terms that might be otherwise untranslatable by your average bi-lingual friend (Plus he loves brewing). I hope to be able to do our first batches there by the end of this month.

I still have to find and acquire an acceptable kegging machine and a filter. We have our eye on a used semi-automated two head keg cleaner/filler (made by Till) that is currently resting at our sister brewery in Myanmar. We are negotiating to purchase it and I hope to fly out there with one of our engineers to have a look at it the middle of nest month. For the filter I’ll be depending on my old friend Vince Cotone ( ) to make us a good deal on something nice that will fit our needs.

If I find I have free time at the office I work on sourcing material (malt, hops, yeast, special ingredients, and other stuff). I have to find a supplier for each and everything needs to be compliant so that it will dovetail with the big brewery (it is ISO 14001 certified). Once all that is taken care of I’ll start on my HACCP. See being a brewer is not all sampling beers and hanging out in bars – there actually is some paper work, well sometimes.