What is craft beer?
Why drink craft beers?
Who are craft brewers?
Who are craft beer drinkers?
How to appreciate craft beer?
What are craft beer styles
How to serve and enjoy craft beer?
What glassware should I use to enjoy craft beer?
What are some beer and food pairing tips?
How to pair beer and cheese?
How to organize a craft beer tasting at home?
What is homebrewing?
Learn how to homebrew
Most beers found in Singapore's supermarket are mass-produced lager beers. This include local champions such as Tiger, Heineken and Carlsberg, as well as imported commercial lager beers such as Asahi, Singha, Stella Artois, Budweiser, Tsingtao, Taiwan Beer, etc. We collectively call these 'commercial beers'. They typically brew only one type of beer (lager) that is mass-produced in large brewing plants owned by multinational corporations. To suit most palate, commercial beers are usually very light in body and taste with almost non-existent or unpleasant aroma. Many of them also use substitutes or less ingredients and add preservatives, which explains why they are very cheap to produce.
The better alternative to commercial beers is craft beers. There are many definitions of craft beer, but we like to define craft beers as beers with distinctive flavor and aroma. Craft beers are brewed in small quantity, by brewers who are passionate about making great-tasting beers. They put a lot of effort, creativity and emphasis on flavor and quality, by choosing only the best and freshest natural ingredients. No adjuncts, no additives, and no preservatives. Put it simply, craft beers are beers with character, crafted especially for your palate.
Most people choose to drink craft beer simply because it taste better. Craft beer also offers more choices so you always have something new to try. People who choose craft beer simply choose to drink quality over quantity. Craft beers are also great conversation starters that encourage you to bond and have meaningful conversations with people you care about. Craft beer is not chug chug and get drunk. And best of all, especially for food-loving Singaporeans, craft beer goes great with food. As more people discover better beers, the craft beer revolution is well underway in Singapore. And soon you will discover, once you go craft, you never go back.
For the past few decades, beers have been put in the hands of the average drinker by admen, mega-corporation, snake oil salesman, people who promise one thing and deliver nothing and only focus on how much they're selling instead of what they're selling. But not anymore. Craft brewers are people who are passionate about craft beer. They brew beers with characters. They invest more in the ingredients of the beer rather than in the advertising fund for the beer. They are hard-working, innovative risk-takers. They are not afraid to brew their beer to be more interesting rather than less. They are the heart and soul of the craft beer industry. They are at the forefront of the craft beer revolution. Here are their stories.
For the past few decades, the average beer drinker has settled for beer marketed to them by admen who care more about profit than passion. Many beer drinkers are not even realizing the choices they have. But not anymore. We are craft beer drinkers. We are passionate about what we drink. We don't allow our beer to be chosen by admen or mega-corporations. We don't settle for beer of the lowest common denominator. We choose beer with quality, innovation and style. We support brewers who care about what they sell, not how much they sell. Welcome to the craft beer revolution.
Take these three simple steps:
1. See the appearance of the beer.
2. Smell the aroma of the beer.
3. Taste the flavor and mouthfeel of the beer.
There are currently more than 100 beer styles. Styles range from sessionable pilsners to satisfying stouts. It's up to the individual brewer to decide whether they want to create a beer within a specific style or whether to forge a new path outside of style perimeters. Common characteristics of each beer style include aroma, flavor, bitterness, alcohol level, color and carbonation. Nevertheless, always remember that there are no best style of beer other than the one you're enjoying at the moment.
You wouldn't want to drink your wine straight out of the bottle, so why not show craft beer the same respect. Craft beers are best enjoyed out of a glass. This ensures the carbonation heightens the aromatics to enjoy the full craft beer experience. Make sure your craft beer is poured into a clean, air-dried glass. Frozen glassware is undesirable as it causes foaming and often mask flavors and the aroma. Now you know why commercial mass-market beers are always served ice cold in a frozen glassware.
The common pint glass is not the end all to beer glasses. After all, this glass was originally designed to shake cocktails, and not as a catch-all for all beverages. A rule of thumb is to consider size as it relates to alcohol content when selecting glassware. The higher the alcohol, the smaller the glass. The snifter is great for certain types of ale over 8% alcohol. The tulip traps aroma and maintains a frothy head due to its curvy design. Tall pilsner glass supports the foam which enhances the aromatics and the palate-cleansing carbonation. If you don't have any beer-specific glasses, using a wine glass is always better than a pint glass or drinking straight out of the bottle.
Keep it simple - look for complementing flavor combinations. For example, any dishes with citrus flavor goes very well with citrusy IPA, roasted or caramelized dishes goes very well with roasty amber ales. Some of the best pairings are also counter-intuitive, for example spicy food goes well with IPA, or dark chocolate grenache with spices pairs well with double IPA. There are no hard set rules for beer and food pairing. We encourage you to experiment, explore and share your own tips on how to pair food and beer. It's part of the craft beer experience!
Craft beer goes well with all kinds of cheeses. For example, mild lactic cheese such as Sheep's Milk Cheese goes well with the light and crisp pilsner, the pungent, nutty and toasty Washed-Rind cheeses with roasty brews like amber ale, goat's milk cheese with saison or strong blue cheese with similarly complex barley wine.
Beer is approachable. It is a lot of fun and something that people relate to without having to worry about status, sophistication or snobbery. The coolest thing about hosting a craft beer tasting at home is the look of discovery on people's faces when they try and experience something they never tasted before. To start with, pick a theme for the tasting. For example, it can be beer vs. wine, beer dinner, style tasting or brewery tasting. Get everyone to comment and discuss the beer. Use the proper glassware, or at least a wine glass to enhance the aromatics of the beer. Get some food involved and pair with the beers. The possibilities are literally endless and you and your friends are guaranteed a great evening of new experiences.
Many people started homebrewing because of the desire to make better beers. Basically beers that are flavorful, beers that you want to drink yourself rather than the low quality, bland-tasting generic commercial beers available out there. Brewing beer is like cooking or baking. Homebrewers are not so different to the master chefs whipping their magic in the kitchen. The art of brewing involves presentation, aroma and flavor, just like cooking. Beer is food after all and homebrewers are food artists of high and exacting standards. Most craft brewers started their careers as homebrewers, and homebrewers only brew what they themselves want to drink. So you can be sure when you drink a craft beer, it doesn't come from some highly-paid executive who knows everything about cutting costs, but nothing about brewing a great-tasting beer.
Homebrewing is legal in Singapore and does not require a license. You can read more information from the Singapore Customs here. You can purchase your first homebrewing kit at iBrew or HomeBrew. Join the Facebook group Singapore Craft Brew Club to chat with fellow homebrewers and get hints and tips on homebrewing. The video below is part 1 of 9 videos that will teach you the basics of homebrewing. You can find the rest of the series on Youtube. And last but not least, don't forget to invite us to try your homebrew creations :)