Saying ‘Prost’ to more good beer in Singapore

Some years back while sitting in a beer garden in her hometown – the picturesque village of Wegscheid in Bavaria, located almost exactly at the intersection where Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic meets – Jessica Dieterich (pictured above, second from right) wondered aloud to her friend Harsha Yale (pictured above, extreme right) about the beer she was drinking, which was made by Instadt Brauerei in nearby Passau. “This is such good beer – wouldn’t it be nice if we can enjoy these fine beers in Singapore without having to travel 10,000 kilometres?” That thought stuck in her mind, and in December 2014 she finally started Prost Singapore to do exactly that.

That’s the short of it. The truth was it took Yale many months to convince Dieterich later that the idea wasn’t born of a beer-induced haze. One of the biggest challenges was that the 700-year old brewery had never exported outside of the country, and worse, it wasn’t keen to at the beginning. But their mutual love for beer – and despite Yale having a woeful reputation of taking some three hours to finish just four pints – finally persuaded the brewery to let them bring the beers to Singapore.

InnstadtBraueri

Located on the banks of the Danube, the 700-year old brewery – like most of its ilk – brews strictly according to the standards of the Reinheitsgebot, or the Bavarian Beer purity law which dictates that beer can only made using water, hops, yeast and malt. In 2013 Innstadt – which means “the city on the river Inn” – merged with another brewery, Hacklberg, which had a very similar brewing philosophy but was a slightly younger brewery at just around 400 years old.

Innstadt Brauerei is a traditional German brewery that has been brewing beer since 1318, and is one of the 100 oldest companies in Germany. They were the first to produce bottled beer in Passau.

Dieterich and Yale initially decided to start off with three beers – the original Passauer Weisse, the Passauer Pilsener, and the Hacklberg eX! lager – from the merged breweries but after some researching and tasting with some local beer bars finally decided on bringing in a further two SKUs, the Passauer Weisse Dunkel as well as the Hacklberg Urhell to round out their portfolio.

Innstadt

But the founders of Prost Singapore, Jessica Dieterich and Harsha Yale, are well aware that the German beer market in Singapore is an ultra-competitive one. A sizeable chunk of the market is dominated by Erdinger, fronted by local beer giant Asia Pacific Breweries, while another large slice goes to Dre@mfields (now owned by Tuck Lee), whose portfolio includes Weihenstephan, Schneider Weisse and Weltenburger. Their goal instead is to ingratiate themselves into the local craft beer movement that has grown by leaps and bounds due to the efforts of various pioneers in the industry.

“We would like to build on that momentum to bring some amazing beers and liquors from niche breweries and distilleries from the Bavarian forests that we like and enjoy, yes it is a personal passion at the end of the day,” shares Dieterich. “Our dream of course is to be able to one day bring in full containers without having to worry about our retail partners complaining about the higher price when comparing our beers to commercial beers,” she laughs.

“We will never be able to beat them on price and we have no intention to,” Dieterich adds. She’s exceedingly thankful to many of her customers who have supported them by taking on their beers and sharing the good news with others in the industry, in a sense becoming her unofficial sales people. Which is especially important, considering that Prost Singapore doesn’t have an official sales representative – for now, Yale and Dieterich do everything on their own.

On a recent trip back to Germany, Yale and Dieterich looked for new breweries and distilleries to represent, trying out many locally produced beers and liqueurs across lower Bavaria. “Sadly, a lot of the local breweries are being gobbled up by the bigger names, which in turn are being bought up by large international beer conglomerates,” she sighs.

But they did zero in on a family-owned distillery in the Bavarian forest, and are looking to bring in their “Blutwurz” or Blood Root, a schnapps made from the root of a locally grown herb – it turns blood red when put into water, hence the name – which can be enjoyed as both an aperitif or as a digestif.

Meanwhile, Prost Singapore will continue its mission of being part of the local beer community. and spreading the love of Bavarian beer. And to that we can all say “Prost, Singapore!”

 


 

Innstadt Passauer Weisse

Maker: Innstadt Brauerei
Style: German Weizen (Wheat Beer)
ABV: 5.3%
Volume: 500ml

Innstadt Passauer Weisse Hefe Dunkel

Maker: Innstadt Brauerei
Style: German Dunkelweizen (Dark Wheat Beer)
ABV: 5.3%
Volume: 500ml

Innstadt Passauer Pilsener Premium

Maker: Innstadt Brauerei
Style: German Pilsener
ABV: 5%
Volume: 330ml

Hacklberg eX!

Maker: Hacklberg Brauerei
Style: German Lager
ABV: 4.6%
Volume: 330ml

Hacklberg Urhell

Maker: Hacklberg Brauerei
Style: German Lager
ABV: 4.9%
Volume: 330ml