Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Whoa ! So much has happened in the past month, I think I will break it in to three separate posts. 1) The GABF (Great American Beer Festival), 2) I shifted apartments (from Bukit Gombak to Holland Close), and 3) we made two new beers (plus we are putting Samui in the bottle - yumm).

So I start with the GABF. Held in Denver each year the GABF is the largest beer festival in the USA. At this, the 26th annual, an estimated 46,000 people attend over the three days of the event. There were more than 600 breweries represented and they entered almost 2800 beers to be judged by a panel of 104 brewing professionals (I was lucky enough to be one of the invited Judges). The judging takes place over three days. Each judge tastes about 100 to 120 beers a day (about 25 to 30 beers per round) - pallet fatigue might otherwise be a bit of a worry, but we are all trained and experienced professionals. Beers are judged in one of 75 categories, each category has three rounds, the final of which is the medal round. The judges take a lot of notes and give feed back to the brewers.

In my opinion the most useful thing about beer competitions is this feed back to the brewers. The beers are tasted and analyzed by Judges who have been trained in sensory evaluation and the brewing processes. A trained pallet allows a judge to glean clues as to the cause and effect of the flavor and aroma defects and make educated comments on those flavors, aromas and their interaction and possible derivations. This feedback can give the brewer insights as to what procedural or raw material changes might be made to rectify the problems or enhance positive attributes. This in turn can lead to something we are all very interested in: better beer. And making interesting, quality beer is really what it's all about. Of course the brewers must always take this feed back with a grain of salt because unfortunately not every judge is perfect and even the best pallets can be mistaken (sometimes) - and of course not all people have the same taste and likes.

Besides judging beer I got to spend some time with good friends that I don't get to see very often. There is a core group of us that seem to always end up together (I think maybe it's because we are all of the same "generation" of brewers). On Friday after the judging was done we went out on our usual Dive Bar Crawl (check Pau Hana Time Blog for future updates on Denver). We started around 10:30 in the AM (there is really nothing quite like being tipsy before lunch - now that's relaxation!) and we ended the evening about 1:00 AM. We went to 11 of Denver's worst (best) dive bars and 4 fairly decent ones - 15 bars in all - and I think we had some food in there somewhere (I recall a slice from some pizza place and later on White Castle mini-burgers with fries). High lights on the day/evening was a real old school bar called "Bar Bar" - it only had one sign out front announcing "BAR" - so locals just refer to it as the Bar Bar. It had not been remolded since the early sixties and the place was a classic, complete with interesting bar tenders and sketchy patrons - and a mean Bloody Mary. (if you are inclined look for it near the Denver Hitting Club). There were a couple of nice bars long the way too. Our favorite was called Sobo; 8 really nice (and hard to find) imported beers on tap and a few micros as well. The place was clean and friendly with flirty waitresses.

The festival itself was a fun time (all be it a bit crazy) 15,000 over people converging in one spot to taste and discuss the best beers America has to offer. I didn't have a bad beer the whole time and there were some really interesting ones (all of which are not available in Singapore - alas). I guess I'll just have to keep drinking the nice Microbrewed beers we have here until my next visit. to the GABF.

Speaking of festivals it looks like Singapore will have its own International Beer Festival starting this year in October. The organizers plan on bringing in beers from around the region. Their focus will be on craft beers but will include larger breweries as well. Look for it in 2008.

AND also coming to Singapore soon my friend Ernest Ng (whom you may remember from earlier posts) opens his own Brewery in Dempsy called Red Dot* - look for them start serving up interesting beers in December.

These are indeed very exciting times to be a beer lover in Singapore !!

*Blk 25A #01-01 Dempsey RoadSingapore, 247691Singapore+65 6475 0500


At 5:36 PM, Blogger BeerSiao said...

Hi Fal,

Is there any craft beers around the region? I only know Japan has many craft breweries though. So if they can bring those in, the festival in June is definitely worth attending.

BTW, when exactly is Red Dot opening in Dempsey? can't wait to go! :)

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Fal Allen said...

Yes there are small breweries in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Lorea, China and even two in Indonesia - they will try to get as many as possible. Red Dot should open early next month

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Fal, The Singapore BeerFest '08 is now scheduled to take place during the 4 days leading up to the Grand Prix! Still at Fort Canning Park, but even more exciting, we think.


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