Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Brewery update

The brewery is moving along quickly. We need to be up, running and brewing beer in 90 days (100 at the outside). The building is structurally completed, the electricity and panels are being installed over the next two weeks. The equipment is about 30% complete, it is suppose to arrive the 10th of May (I am suppose to fly out to Hungary to inspect it at some point). I am purchasing ancillary equipment as fast as I can; a keg washer from my friend John in Chico, a pad filter from Montana, tipping dumpsters for the spent grain, and a drive-in cooler for the beer.

I flew out to NorCal last week to look at the Keg washer (a 19 hour flight) My timing was good and I was lucky enough to work out being in San Francisco for a day to participate in the 13th annual Toronado Barley Wine Festival. I helped out some this year and I gotta say cleaning beer line (slightly hung over) at 8 am on a Saturday morning is not as glamorous as I thought is might be. But what a great festival; old time Toronado bartender-stars Jessie, Ian and Johnny flew in from Oregon, San Diego and the Mission district (respectively) to work the opening shift along bar favorites Tad, Betsy and Tony. The place was so packed you could hardly get to the bar – 58 Barley Wines on Draft ! There really is no other event like it. If you have never been, well … don’t bother going you’ll just make it more crowded next year (just kidding – you should really check it out)

The brewery is also looking at a stand-alone bottling line now too - since the integration for bottling between the large brewery and the Micro brewery is looking increasingly like it is just too expensive. Raw materials have to be ordered next week, beer hoses too, and then there is all the other small items to be rounded up (pumps, extra valves, gaskets, spare parts, tools clamps, lab equipment) all that stuff you forget you’ll need but can’t be bought at the neighborhood store.

Last week I brewed another test batch in Indonesia. It was a “Belgian style” Wit beer. It was very similar to the one we brewed back in May at the Elysian but I made a few minor changes. It “seems” to have gone well. Brewing experimental beers in someone else’s brewery, with water, ingredients, and yeast (and languages) you are not familiar with is a bit like playing the guitar with heavy leather gloves on – it’s doable, but difficult, and you are never quite sure how it will turn out. We will know for sure next week when I head back over to keg it up.

Although I am enjoying this process and all the learning that has accompanied it – learning about the building, systems integration, brewery design and all the rest of it - I am also really looking forward to just brewing beer, to having a more defined goal in front of me. With a little luck that day is Less than 100 days from now. That's not such a long time - and I have always been fairly lucky.


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