Brew steel

Sin­ga­porean gypsy brew­ery Brew­lan­der is look­ing to spread some Love, Hope, and Joy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By MICHAEL CHEANG star2@thes­tar.com.my star2@thes­tar.com.my

IF it isn’t fun, why do it? That is the phi­los­o­phy be­hind Brew­lan­der, a brand new Sin­ga­porean craft beer fronted by award-win­ning Sin­ga­porean gypsy brewer John Wei.

Named after the Ben Stiller com­edy Zoolan­der, Brew­lan­der’s beers have feel-good names like Love, Re­spect, Peace, Hope, and Courage, which adds to the fun and pos­i­tive vibe of the brand.

“We wanted to add a bit more pos­i­tiv­ity to the world with our beers, so we named them this way. Also, it’s cool to be able to walk into a bar and ask for some Love!” Wei said dur­ing an in­ter­view in Petaling Jaya re­cently.

The story of Brew­lan­der be­gan some nine years ago when Wei re­turned to Sin­ga­pore from Bri­tain, and couldn’t find the flavour­ful English ales he loved so much any­where.

A chance meet­ing with an old friend who had just re­turned from the United States led him to dis­cover home­brew­ing.

“For the first two years, I was more in­ter­ested in repli­cat­ing beers I liked in the UK, like the bit­ters and ales. Some were good, some were ter­ri­ble ... it just wasn’t con­sis­tent,” he re­called. “In 2011, I de­cided to started from scratch – brew a sim­ple beer and do it cor­rectly un­til I nailed it, be­fore mov­ing on to the next style.

“But it was still a hobby. I never thought of set­ting up my own brew­ery, I just wanted to do it prop­erly.”

By 2013, his home­brews had started win­ning com­pe­ti­tions in Sin­ga­pore. “I started get­ting of­fers to be­come a brewer, and from in­vestors who want to set up a busi­ness to­gether. But I worked in fi­nance, and I’m very sen­si­tive to the num­bers. It just didn’t make sense to do it in Sin­ga­pore at the time,” he said.

That soon changed, how­ever. Be­ing a cer­ti­fied beer judge and the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Beer Judge Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram in Asia, Wei would travel to Hong Kong, Tai­wan, and China to con­duct ex­ams or judge com­pe­ti­tions. Be­cause of his trav­els, he re­alised that with the grow­ing Asian craft beer scene, set­ting up a brew­ery might ac­tu­ally work.

In 2016, faced with mak­ing a de­ci­sion on his ca­reer, Wei de­cided that it was now or never, and set up Brew­lan­der with a group of friends.

Brew­lan­der is brewed us­ing what is known as a gypsy brew­ing model, where the brew­ers do not have their own brew­ery, but rather, “bor­row” the fa­cil­i­ties in other brew­eries to make the beers.

Wei ini­tially had plans to brew in ei­ther Aus­tralia or Bel­gium, but a mu­tual friend at King­dom Brew­eries in Cam­bo­dia con­vinced him to do it there in­stead.

“The per­fect thing about brew­ing there is they al­low me to have to­tal con­trol. If I make a mis­take, it’s all my fault,” he said, adding that he goes to Cam­bo­dia for three weeks at a time, to brew the beers.

The first Brew­lan­der beers rolled out in March this year, and are cur­rently avail­able in Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong, Tai­wan, and of course, Malaysia.

Here are some of the beers that are cur­rently avail­able here, and what Wei says about them.

Hope Sum­mer Ale (4.5% ABV) “A great re­fresh­ing beer that is per­fect for Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia’s hot weather. If you’ve never had craft beer be­fore, this is a good beer to start with.”

Peace N.E.W. Ale (5.1% ABV) “I com­bined the New Eng­land hazy IPA and hoppy wheat styles. It’s juicy, with lots of peach and apri­cot, and very re­fresh­ing.”

Joy Ses­sion IPA (4.5% ABV)

“An easy, re­fresh­ing ses­sion IPA. To me, a ses­sion IPA can be light on al­co­hol, but should still have a lot of flavour.”

Love Wild IPA (6.5% ABV) “Our best-seller – it sells twice as fast as any of the other beers! I use a strain of wild yeast that gives you a lot of mango, pas­sion fruit and guava flavours. It’s easy to drink, not too hoppy, and very bal­anced.”

Re­spect Porter (5.8% ABV) “Porter is one of my favourite styles. I’m very par­tic­u­lar about the malt we use, and I use a blend of it to give the beer those ca­cao, dark choco­late and cof­fee un­der­tones.”

Brew­lan­der beers are avail­able at The Great Beer Bar (Face­book: TheGreatBeerBar) and Ales & Lagers (Face­book: AlesLagers).

Michael Cheang hopes John Wei comes up with a Brew­lan­der Brew Steel beer in the fu­ture. Drop him a note at the Tipsy-Turvy Face­book page (Face­book: mytip­sy­turvy) or fol­low him on In­sta­gram (@mytip­sy­turvy).

Wei is the mas­ter brewer of Brew­lan­der, a brand new Sin­ga­porean craft beer brand now avail­able in Malaysia. — Pho­tos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The Star

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