Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I shifted apartments last week. I moved from Bukit Gombak to Holland Close. -Whuhh, moving is always a lot of work. First you have to pack up everything you own, then you have to move it all, then you have to go back and clean the apartment (scrub, scrub, scrub - lest you not get back your deposit), then you have to unpack everything into your new location. It’s a lot of work. But at least in my case I don't have everything I own here in Singapore - so not too bad.

What precipitated this move was a spectacular rent increase. Not a just a small the 20% increase (as I had expected) but a whooping 120% increase (Wah Lau - more than double what I was paying !!) and mines was not the worst of it - Bill's went up 150% and I talked to one guy whose rent tripled. WTF is going on with SIN rentals? So - I had to move (boh pian).

My new place is about 40% more than what I was paying, but still that is 30% less than I would have had to pay had I remained in Bukit Gombak. (seems like some sort of high school math problem: "If Brewer's rent went up 215%, and his new rent is 40% more than his old rent ..... what would was his original rent ?" - I never liked math)

My old place was a nice Condo with lots of amenities (a pool, a gym, BBQ pits, a putting green, gardens, security guards, etc), but it was far from town. It was close to work but far from most activities. My new place is by Holland Close It is an HDB (government built, but privately owned) housing development. And although it lacks the amenities of a condo it is a nice, quiet and comfortable. And it is in a MUCH more exciting part of town. There is Holland Village on the one side and Commonwealth on the other, and each has its own special attractions.

In Holland village there are restaurants, bars and shops a plenty. There are several very nice restaurants, some tucked away in quiet corners, the bar scene is lively and the beer selections pretty good, but what I am most enamored with is the grocery store. The first time I went into the Cold Storage grocer in Holland V. I was giddy with excitement. After more than two years of shopping at a "mom n pops" style grocery near my old place - where an item might (or night not) be on the shelf one day and never to be seen again the next - I was now suddenly confronted with a plethora choices. Choices in both number of items, and the selections within a given category. I had not seen selections like this since I left Seattle 7 years ago. It all seemed so decadent. They seemed to have all the western items I could never find in Bukit Gomak without sacrificing any of the local things I had come to love and depend on. GOOD GOHD, they had CHEESE ! And decent fish cake too. I literally stood in the isle and giggled (I hope no one saw).

The Commonwealth side is special in another way. It has a few "mom & pops" stores that are convenient and friendly, but what it has that is special it dozens of local eating places - and they are fabulous. When I first walked around the Holland V. side I thought "where will I eat ?", because although there were some nice restaurants with what looked like pretty good food, they were not the Singapore eating houses I have fallen in love with. They were all, well, too fancy for everyday eating - and I saw no Malay food at all! * - what to do ?

*Okay, not entirely true; in Holland Village proper (where all the shops are) there is no Malay food but there is a great Nasi Padang place on the west side of block 46. It is Sarena Nasi Padang & Ayam Penyet (yum - smashed Ckicken - one has to wonder how this dish came about, but I digress). At Sarena the food is excellent (and unordinary - like curried Jack Fruit!) and the staff friendly. There are also several other good place to eat in the section of fod stalls

At first my walking exploration of the Commonwealth side did not yield much and as the first day drew to a close I was becoming a bit worried. Would I have to start cooking at home more ? Had I made the wrong decision to move here. But then I saw, in the middle of a parking lot for a huge complex of HDB flats, a bunch of old shop houses and on the corners there were places to eat. I wandered over not expecting too much, but to my surprise I had discover the veritable mother lode of eating houses. This complex will sustain me for years to come. It has over three dozen places to eat and the range of foods and the quality of what's available is fantastic. The atmosphere perfect (for me), it is just what I look for - outdoors, local food (of all kinds) with nice and friendly people. That first night I had some Nasi Padang style and it was really good. The next I had clay pot chicken rice at a place called Read Seal and it was really delicious, the best clay pot I had even had, way better than that "famous" place in Geylang (at least in my opinion). There is a Laksa place I have high hopes for too, and several Chinese places and an Indian one too. So far I am 2 for 2 and I expect that most places there will beat my expectations. (located at blocks 116, 116, 118 off Commonwealth link)

And maybe one of the best things is I discovered I am only a short $4.00 taxi ride from my friends Ernest's new Red Dot brew pub* in Dempsy.

So basically shifting to my new place was a total win. I am in a better neighborhood, closer to town and my friends, in a more comfortable apartment, surrounded by even better makan (both in variety and quality), close to a brew pub and it is cheaper rent. Yeah, I am gonna consider that a total win!

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


At 8:38 AM, Blogger Monkey said...

hmm there is lots to eat at Holland V surely. Blk 40 holland drive? You should explore all the HDB flats around Holland. It'll surely yield something good :)

And yes very near dempsey! holland v and the estate across the road - chip bee gardens!!

haha HV cold storage :D awesome stuff. i just found this really cool cheese there today. yum. there are also some mom and pop stores littered around HV, not just the commonwealth side but the bouna vista side too.

welcome to the neighborhood :D i don't live there but the university is nearby so it's definitely a frequent haunt for many of us

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Fal Allen said...

HI Monkey,

Thanks for the tips. I have much to explore in the new neighborhood (very exciting). So far The food that I have discovered has been fantastic.

Send me your e-mail and I will put you on out Archipelago mailing list. My e-mail:

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Hi Fal, is the Red Dot Brewhouse open yet? All I can find by googling is that it's planned to open end of December. Thanks.

At 11:48 PM, Blogger Fal Allen said...

Hi Jon.

Red Dot opened yesterday (Monday Dec. 10th) for dinner. They do not have their own beer yet (they plan to start brewing this weekend) and hope to have beer for New Year

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Thanks Fal, that's good news as I'm planning on heading there this evening. Shame they don't have their own beer yet, but I guess they'll have something decent (like some of yours ;-)

At 6:33 PM, Blogger Bill Brehm said...

They started brewing their first batch on Dec 12. Ernest missed our beer club meeting because of that. He just called me today (Dec 26) and told me the beer is flowing now.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger nerinossa said...

It’s a lot of work


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