Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pike Place Brewery - 20 years

A few years back I worked at a little brewery in Seattle (a few years - well, about 20 years ago). It was called the Pike Place Brewery. Each year we would make a Barley Wine for the Holiday season. And each year we would stash away a keg or two for the following year (or two). After I left in 1998 those kegs were ignored by the then brewer. A couple of years ago he left and my friend Drew Cluley took over as the head brewer. One day Drew was doing some cleaning of the hop cooler (where I use to store the kegs of Barley Wine) and guess what he found ? Three kegs of of Old Bawdy Barley Wine from the years that I was brewing there (vintages 1996, 1997 1998). So Pike planned a tasting of these three old vintages and the three new ones drew had brewed. This was all part Pike's celebraton of 20 years of brewing. I happened to be in the USA for a visit home when this event was taking place so I flew on up to Seattle for the tasting. Many of the past Pike Place brewers were in attendance and there were 6 really good Barley wines.

Happy Birthday Pike !

If you want to hear our drunken rambling after 8 or so 9% beers - check the podcast below (I blame it on all the barley wines)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pitaya Rosé

Archipelago Brewery has a new beer - We designed and brewed especially for World Gourmet Summit and it is their official beer this year.

When we designed the beer I knew we wanted to make something special, something unusual, with unique ingredients that we had not tried before, something that would wow the foodies that come to the WGS from around Asia and the world. We have already used a lot of unusual Southeast Asian fruits, herbs and spices in our beers - things like Assam, Mangosteen, young Ginger, Goji berry, Gula Malaka, Língzhī (never sold*) , Ba Jiao, Pandan, Lemon Grass, Coriander, Chinese Orange peel, Lychee, Kalamansi Lime, Tongkat Ali (also never sold*), and even Durian - so what to use this time - I was stumped.

Then one day a friend offered me a Dragon fruit (Pitaya or Huo Lóng Guo). I had tasted it before and was not really that impressed with the flavors, but when they cut it open instead of the normal pearl white color this one was a vibrant dark pink - I knew instantly that I had found my new ingredient. The Flavor of the Pitaya is mild and slightly sweet, the aroma is delicate and floral, but that dark pink color - that was it. It was exactly the thing I was looking for. The flavors and aromas matched perfectly with the ideas I had for the new beer; light and subtle yet unique, and the color - that was the wow factor I was hoping to find.

We had some unusual (and amazing) New Zealand Hop that I wanted to try (the Nelson Sauvin). It is the unique aromatic character of crushed Goosberries and Sauviougn Blanc wine grapes. To this I wanted to blend in a touch of Lavender for added aroma. We planned to use a light golden ale as the base beer and I added in a small amount of Galangal to spice up the flavor.

Finding the needed amount of red Pitaya turned out to be more difficult that I had thought. My initial search turned up only a few fruit, but I did learn that locally the red Pitaya were referred to as Malaysian Dragon fruit. Armed with this scrap of knowledge I headed to my favorite market - the huge Pasir Panjang wholesale market. It did not let me down. After wandering around for about an hour and searching over a dozen stalls I had procure about 30 kg of Malaysian Red Pitaya. The Lavender and Galangal were much easier to find.

The Pitaya Rosé will be at several events during the three weeks of the World Gourmet Summit including the Opening Event (April 19th) and the Chill & Grill with Archipelago event (May 2nd - hurry, and get your tickets now). Starting April 22nd will also be available on draft at the Queen & Mangosteen (in Vivo city) and Archipelago Beer Hub (Circular road).

The Pitaya Rosé is a limited addition beer, maybe never to be made again so look for it during the months of April and May - after that it could all be gone.

* these two very not nice tasting in beer (both are very bitter and taste of wood)