Majulah Singapura! - The Singapore Craft Beer Story for now...
Updated: Feb 11, 2019
The Beer Geek is a happy geek these days and is reminded of the immortal words “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” While Herrick was admonishing young virgins to seize the day, beer enthusiasts and the ale-curious in Singapore should be no less urgent or frenzied in their attempts to enjoy as much of this Spring of craft beer, as they can.
Singapore has just stumbled out of the beer wilderness into an oasis.
The Beer Geek harbors a secret fear that winter is coming and that all this fresh ale pouring into Singapore will just become so much frozen vapor in the Arctic tundra of pedestrian national brand lagers. This fear may be irrational and unfounded, but craft beer in Singapore is still in the cradle and on a liquid diet; pun not intended, but one could be forgiven if assumed. You see, dear reader, it was not so long ago that the Geek would quite regularly find pale ales on the shelves of bottle shops a year after their bottled-on dates. These same specialty craft beer shops that hawked "quirky" or "special" beers from around the world would also not be able to tell you the difference between an IPA and an APA or be none the wiser about why a porter is not a stout. To put it quite bluntly, Singapore has just stumbled out of the beer wilderness into an oasis.
The Geek's impression is that this oasis is an accident, the confluence of well-traveled Singaporeans with disposable income and an insatiable appetite for something hip, edgy, retro, or just different. How this came to pass is moot, the challenge now is how we as a community of beer lovers, homebrewers, distributors, and retailers collaborate to help Singapore craft beer out of the cradle and make sure those first tentative steps are proper well-placed steps. What follows are the Geek's thoughts on what some of those first steps might be.
This may seem like a waste of limited resources given how tightly-resourced Singapore F&B ventures are, but the importance of having a crew with a decent fund of knowledge about beer cannot be overemphasized. Beer is a young perishable product which charms are the product of volatility. These volatile flavor and aroma compounds start disappearing at an alarming rate and in turn, are replaced by "off-flavors" if the beer is handled ignorantly or indifferently.
A bit of beer knowledge goes a long way...
A bit of beer knowledge goes a long way towards enhancing your appreciation of the craft beer in your hand which more often than not, is the product of passion, skill and years of experience poured into weeks of dedicated care and attention to bring you this very delicate drink in your hand that even now is evolving and changing as it warms to your touch. So not only would it be a very good idea to arm retailers and servers with the basic knowledge to be able to transport, store, handle and serve beer properly, this knowledge would be very helpful in augmenting your appreciation and adding value to every craft beer experience in Singapore. So the next time you walk into a beer bar, Biergarten, or taproom, chat up the crew and if they've had some kind of basic training, like Cicerone.org's Certified Beer Server, then you know management cares enough about you, the consumer, to invest in training for their servers which translates into "enjoyment insurance" for you.
Support is critical for this group of crazy people in the community who are thoroughly infatuated with the idea of being able to create something awesome in your own home that can be enjoyed with friends or to make new friends with. What starts as a hobby can rapidly morph into a cottage industry with the right support from the community: an attitude of adventure, open-mindedness, and generosity. Groups like Craft Brew Asia and the Singapore Homebrew Club have sprung up to allow homebrewers to share their experiences and up their collective game. The product of all this collaboration is featured annually at the iBrew Challenge which is a beautiful community event to attend if you’re adventurous about beer and just love a good ole’ time. One final thought on homebrewing: the Geek saw an add on the bus the other day for the Silver Academy and wondered why retirees and seniors might not reasonably be introduced to the wonders of home brewing. Homebrewing more than all the other skills-based courses on offer at the Academy might actually lead to the development of a cottage industry run by creative second-lifers.
Beer Hub Singapore
Singapore’s geographical location has long been touted as its most strategic asset in becoming Asia’s financial and services hub. The Geek believes this should be no different for growing consumer and brewing expertise, developing the infrastructure for complete cold-chain logistics for all of Asia, and the biggest baddest regional beer events! As an example, the Geek has seen Beerfest Asia grow from a two-bit operation into a creature with some real potential for greatness, and a contender to be THE powerhouse beer event of Asia! The economy of beer all the way from homebrewing to international distribution should be carefully curated, nurtured, and even explored for disruption, and Singapore has all the parts to be successful in this space, all that is required is passion, will, and the vision of legislators and regulators.
There is no reason why Singapore cannot be the craft beer hub of Asia!
The Geek has inexhaustible faith in the Singapore craft beer scene and looks forward to a progressive leveling up of consumer expectations, service standards, expertise in the various domains of the beer industry, and the evolution of the homebrew community! Majulah Singapura!