Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Seattle & Beer

I love to fly (no I don't, not really - no, really, I love to - no) Two weeks ago I left Singapore for Seattle via the Narita airport in Japan. It was only about 22 hours (counting lay over in Narita - where I found a free beer dispensing machine, so cool!). Why would anyone willingly suffer 22 hours in transit you ask. Well, I got to hang with Toby for three days, I judged beer at the World beer Cup (WBC) for three days, and I was on a panel at the Craft Brewer Conference (also thee days), oh yeah and I got to drink a ton of fantastic beers - all in 8 day. I know the math doesn't quite work out but I swear that's just how it was ... really. The World beer Cup (WBC) had over 2220 beers from 56 countries around the world entered this year, more than ever before. There were 109 judges from 18 countries. The judging takes three days 8 or 9 hours a day. And I know what you are thinking - bummer dude, you had to drink free beer for 8 hours a day - but the judges also have to turn in clear and concise tasting notes on each beer (especially if they want to be asked back in following years). But note taking aside at 9:00 in the morning on the third day of Judging the thought of tasting beer for another 8 hours can give you a little bit of the willies. Especially if you have something really scary like American Malt Liquors or (the dreaded) Honey Lagers. Yeeeh ! But the reason brewers and beer pundits from around the world travel so far to judge at this event is because the experience of tasting, judging and discussing beers next to the brewer from the likes of Duvel , Fullers, Orval, Russian River, Guinness, Elysian, Westmalle, Sierra Nevada, Monteths - hell, think of a world class brewery and their brewer has probably judged at the WBC. The super stars of the brewing world (yes, I know I am a beer geek). The Craft Brewer's Conference starts the day after the WBC judging ends. The conference is just what is sounds like a gathering of brewers and beer people sitting around brewing & beer experts. Every industry has these kinds of conferences and if you think we are geeks check out the computer programmers conferences (of course they are getting paid about 4 times what the average brewer makes, so maybe I should shut up). Now the talks and presentations at the conference are pretty good but the reason folks come the conferences (really I think any conferences) is networking (or hanging out drinking beer and yaking). But one should never underestimate the value of networking, especially in the brewing industry. As Sam Calagione so correctly pointed out it's common practice for one brewer to call another and ask for help or advice - "hey, I'm having a problem with my run off do you have any suggestion on what might be wrong". And there would be a free flow of information between these two colleagues. Can you imagine Bill Gates calling Steve Jobs and asking for his thoughts on a computer problem he was having or if he could borrow a few spare chips. Never happen (never ever happen). Networking in the brewing industry means a lot more than it does in other industries. Plus we have way better beer than they do.

That Friday near the end of the conference I bid farewell to Seattle and my fellow brewers and boarded a British Airway flight bound for Budapest Via London. What Joys would await me during my 5 hour lay-over at
Heathrow airport. One could only guess at what treasures I might discover. Did I mention that they have a free beer machine in international lounge in the Narita airport.

Check the Singbrewer's Additional Pictures Link to the right


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