You wanted craft beer and they delivered. But there's no stopping once the market has been set. If you're looking for variety or simply want to grab a fresh pint of beer this New Year's, you've landed on the right page. From bars with 30 beer taps to guys putting out innovative brews like Kiam Sng Di (preserved plum), Singapore's beer scene is thriving.
Here's what you need to know when it comes to the local beer scene - the who, where and why.
That Singapore Beer Project
Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography
The name says it all: Casey Choo, 26, stays true to his roots with distinct (and delish) Singapore beers like Hawker's Dream Ale and Kiam Sng Di. The former is a crisp beer with citrus and pine notes, and great for washing down heavy foods – it’s become a crowd favourite since it was launched during Beerfest Asia 2018.
Casey’s personal favourite (and ours) is Kiam Sng Di, a refreshing sour plum gose infused with tangy guava; you can’t have guava without sweet prune powder and Casey gets it. To drink it Singaporean-style, ask for a sng buay (preserved plum) at the bars.
Combining his psychology training with his interest in good beer, Casey consciously fills his barrel with the tastes and preferences of the local folk. Close focus groups were held to learn about the lifestyle and drinking habits of Singaporeans - beer research is not to be taken lightly when it comes to That Singapore Beer Project.
Currently, you can find his beers at Good Luck Beerhouse, Temple Cellars, Smith Street Taps. Follow @sgbeerproject for updates.
Daryl’s Urban Ales
Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography
Daryl Yeap, 28, was motivated by a quest for cheap premium beer and hopped on-board the craft beer train to start brewing his own during his final year in uni. Three years of home brewing honed his skills and creative instincts, and after he won iBrew People's Choice (2016 and 2017), he got his first commercial brewing gig at The General Brewing Co in 2018.
A few months later, he started Daryl’s Urban Ales (a much catchier name than its predecessor, Daryl’s Fermentations) as a side project and it has taken off ever since. Fermentation One and Mojaic Majic, which are hazy pale ales with a huge hop hit, are crowd favourites. His own favourite is Happy Belly (a mango and passion fruit sour ale) for which he won a prize at iBrew in 2016 – Singapore’s largest homebrewing competition.
His beers are available at 3rd Culture Brewing Maxwell and Good Luck Beerhouse. Follow @darylsurbanales for updates.
Smith Street Taps
Photo credit: Facebook.com/smithstreettaps
Known to Singapore’s drinking crowd simply as SST, the original “craft beer stall in hawker centre” has spawned many imitators, but most are like warm Budweisers – piss poor and to be avoided. Their recent Bar Awards 2018 win for Best Beer Bar in Singapore is testament to their longevity and innovation.
SST specialises in interesting new beer styles, creative tap takeovers and collabs with breweries. ”We always try to bring in new, seasonal, experimental beers that appeal to the geek beer crowd, as well as collaborating with breweries to create special one-off beers to constantly keep them interested,” says co-founder Daniel Goh.
He reckons sour beers to become more popular, as well as the fruitier and juicier New England style IPAs (India Ple Ales). “Sour beers work very well with Asian food. Just two years ago, high octane, barrel aged dark beers were a big thing in the local craft beer community, as were very hoppy imperial and triple IPAs; these days that interest has waned.”
#02-062, Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith Street
Picture credit: Facebook.com/freehousesg
This laidback bar boasts an impressive selection of 100 different craft beers (canned and bottled), all priced affordably, even the quality quaff like Garage Project (New Zealand ) and Pirate Life Brewing (Australian). Located on the second floor of a conservation shophouse, and decorated with a string of warm light bulbs, the cozy bar is truly a (public) secret beer heaven.
21A Boon Tat St
Good Luck Beerhouse
Pledging to support the local craft beer scene, this bar has at least six taps reserved for local brews. Paying homage to Singapore’s beer history, a neon sign with the mandarin words for “cooling tea” proudly glimmers over the taps (yes, beer used to be regarded as a tea brought in by the British colonisers). Good Luck sticks to their Asian roots and serves dim sum along with their beers. Not feeling it? Feel free to dabao your murtabak or mee soto in (it’s in Haji Lane after all.) If you’re looking to find great beer and food, Good Luck’s curation will not let you down.
9 Haji Lane
It’s 2018 and no one goes to a bar just to have a drink; the space has to always tell a story. At Druggists, the interior is a haven for history and heritage buffs. Here the large wooden plaque with Chinese characters, and two lions front the entrance, and bits of Chinese shop house architecture melds into the bar’s modern vibe.
Their beers are from Scandinavia (especially itinerant brewery Mikkeller) and the UK. Food wise we like its contemporary interpretations of local fare like Chilli Crab Cheese Sticks and Kaya Cheese Sticks. They know their stuff here, so you should trust them when they pair a particular beer with your har cheong gai order.
119 Tyrwhitt Road
Run by Hong Kong’s top-rated craft brewery Young Master Ales, The Guild’s slew of craft beers include the Cha Chaan Teng Salted Lime Gose. A thirst-quencher fit for our sweltering weather, it’s reminiscent of the classic sour and salty Gose (herbally and lemony) brewed with salted lime commonly found in Hong Kong Cha Chaan Tengs.
Food-wise, the kitchen champions the Singapore locavore movement. Briny oysters are from a farm off Pulau Ubin and the key ingredient in General Tso’s Frog Legs are sourced from Jurong Frog Farm. For heartier fare, go for the extra-cheesy mac n’ cheese and bak chor mee-inspired BCM Tagliatelle “Bolo”. The latter is a bowl of homemade pasta, pork ragu, liver and pickled shiitake topped with a scoop of chilli that packs a punch. The dishes are just salty enough to complement the wide-ranging beers.
55 Keong Saik Rd
There are 30 taps here – the most in Singapore – lined up like an olympic opening ceremony, and a masive chalkboard to tell you what’s what. Here the craft beers are brought in mostly from the U.S. and other parts of the world. A heavy-hitter that is balanced with a watermelon twist is the Watermelon Dorado from Ballast Point Brewing Company in California. Keep up with the beer boards (https://untappd.com/v/american-taproom/7480946) for new additions to the menu.
The Buffalo wings - marinated in the house-special hot sauce, make an excellent bar snack. But don’t stop there. Order thin-crust pizzas to share. From the classic Margherita to the funky Okonomiyaki prawns pizza dusted with bonito flakes and furikake, it’s American comfort food alright. With a little global-influence.
#01-23, 261 Waterloo St
This was first published in the December issue of the magazine.