Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Yeast bud

"Hey - I heard you guys are part of Tiger ?"

Ahhh, No, not really - not Tiger

"But Tiger makes the beer. Right ?"

No, we make our beers

"But you make it at Tiger - Right ?"

I get these questions a lot - so I thought maybe I would talk about it some here.

I am very lucky (in many ways). One of the ways that I am lucky is that I work for a tiny little company (only 6 employees). A small company is nice because you know all your co-workers, you know who is doing what and you feel a part of the effort. Another way that I am lucky is that the tiny company I work for is buried deep inside a much larger company (of several thousand employees). Big companies are nice because they have big resources. Our little company operates small but has some of the resources as if we were large. Its' lucky for me that I usually get the best of both of these worlds (yeah I occasionally get hit with the worst of both too, but that's pretty rare).

So, I know that does not clarify much yet (except that I am lucky)

Some people think that Archipelago Brewery is owned by Tiger Brewery - which it is not. Some people think that we are owned by Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) - which we are. Asia Pacific Breweries owns 32 other breweries in 12 other countries throughout Asia. These breweries are in as distant lands as New Zealand, India, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, China and about every other SE Asian country. APB Breweries make brands like Tiger, Monteiths, South Pacific, Tui, Anchor, Heineken, Larue, Guinness, and many others - over 40 brands in all. Each of the other breweries produces over a million hectoliters a year (yes, APB is pretty big) but Archipelago produce somewhat less beer. Some people think that our beers are brewed by Tiger brewery - which they are not. Tiger's 500 hectoliter brewery produces Tiger, Heineken, Guinness, Anchor, Barons, and a few other brands, but not the Archipelago beers. Archipelago's beers are brewed on its own 30 hectoliter brewery. APB owns both Breweries. Both are located in Tuas (at the far west end of Singapore). Both breweries share the same street address but not the same brewing facility. The two breweries are in separate buildings next door to each other. Archipelago is like a small sprout next to the giant tree. We sit in the shadow of the Tiger Brewery. We actually do share some things. The larger brewery supplies us with all our utilities and warehousing, and we split on our administration and sales duties. We operate all our own production (brewing), operations and marketing. We give some back in APB occasionally uses us as an R & D facility and we are (we hope) bring new customers to beer (and thus increasing the market) by offering them a wider range of flavors and new concept of what can be.

And if you have had our beers you know that they are nothing like the usual line up of beers you would find on your market shelves. In fact most of the Archipelago beers are even different from the offerings from other small brewery that you might find. Not only are Archipelago beers hand crafted, all malt, full flavored beers - but they often have some added addition of unique local cooking ingredients. We have created beers using assam, blue ginger, gula malaka, lemon grass, coffee, galanangal, Ba Jiao, Kalamansi lime, pandan, Chinese orange, Lingzih, Goji – just to name the more exotic things we have tried. The larger corporation has given us free reign to create new beers and do things in a new way.

I bring all this up not to point out that small is better than big, or that one kind of beer is better than another, but to help clarify for you (the beer aficionado) and point out what may be a unique relationship in the brewing world; A truly small brewery owned by a giant brewing corporation and yet still making truly unique beers. (did I mention I was lucky)