A look at the collaborative spirit in the world of beer that will be showcased at Beerfest Asia 2018.
If you’re not already impressed by the upcoming Beerfest Asia 2018, well you should be. Not only will it be showcasing over 400 different beers and other alcoholic libations – some reports even put the number around 600 – the tenth edition of Asia’s largest beer festival will also for the first time be hosted at iconic Singapore landmark Gardens by the Bay.
One of the interesting things about Beerfest Asia is how over the past decade the event has mirrored global beer trends and helped shape Singapore’s beer drinking culture. In recent years, Beerfest Asia has seen the market move from quaffing bucketloads of cheap ubiquitous lager to embracing the bitingly bitter India Pale Ales and high-octane imperial stouts, for example. Today beer drinkers in Singapore are exposed to so many different styles of beers (see our earlier guide on the different beer styles available at Beerfest Asia this year), many of which weren’t even available in our market until recently.
This year, one of the trends picked up revolves around the idea of collaboration. One of the most endearing traits about the craft beer industry is its (almost unholy) predilection for cooperation, based the idea that working together benefits everyone. You know, the adage that a rising tide lifts all boats? To that end many craft beer breweries across the world have been embarking on creating collaboration beers. These beers are made with the spirit and philosophy of each collaborating brewery, harnessing the strengths of each – and hopefully cancelling each other weaknesses as well – to create a beer that’s as tasty as it is fun (and sometimes irreverent).
But collaborations need not be restricted to working with other breweries; some craft breweries work closely with other brands – chocolate makers, coffee and tea producers, among many others – while others work with craft beer and restaurant venues for special beers. In some cases too, breweries can create a unique, once-off brew for special events. For Beerfest Asia 2018, festival organisers have partnered with various breweries to create special brews to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
Here’s a look at the different collaboration beers that are going to be featured at Beerfest Asia.
Bermondsey, England-based brewery Fourpure – first introduced into Singapore in 2015 – will be unveiling possibly Beerfest Asia’s widest array of collaboration beers. Earlier this year started its “Continental Collaboration – A Global Adventure In Beer” initiative, creating a series of beers in partnership with 6 different breweries spanning each major continent including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.
Their North America collaboration is with Californian stalwart Bear Republic, and the Nor Cal is (of course) a hoppy West Coast IPA made with Citra, Chinook, and Galaxy hops for a burst of fruity, tropical hop flavours. Then there’s the Homage, made with Brasserie De La Senne of Belgium to represent continental Europe. This dry and refreshing saison offers earthy hops, a spicy yeasty character, and further dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc for interesting passionfruit and grape overtones. Representing Africa is Devil’s Peak from Cape Town, and the Coastline is a sour ale made with gooseberry, lactose and fresh vanilla pods.
Then there’s the Asia collaboration with Kyoto Brewing of Japan called Temple; this gose is brewed with konbu seaweed, satsuma citrus peel, flaked rice and sea salt for all the flavours you’d expect from a gose and more. Nightfall, made with Brazil’s Sunset Brew representing South America, is a porter with big chocolate and coconut characters. Finally there’s its collaboration with Two Birds from Melbourne, Australia to round out the offerings; Nugget is a clean, refreshing pale ale made with all Aussie hops – Galaxy, Vic Secret, Ella and Australian Cascade.
Fourpure’s Continental Collaborations can be found at Booth E24.
Coming in closely behind Fourpure is Scottish craft brewery BrewDog; it recently launched a collaboration series with various European breweries as part of its Equity for Punks crowdfunding initiative. Five of those will be on hand at Beerfest Asia – there’s the Mallow Mafia it made with Amundsen Bryggeri of Norway, a Russian imperial stout made with cocoa, coffee and marshmallow; the SOS (May Day) with Germany’s BRLO is a German style bock with toasty, biscuit malt characters, while the Baltic Fleet is a plum porter produced with Bevog of Austria.
Then there’s Grano Giusto with Birrificio Italiano of Italy, a dark lager made using an ancient wheat variety called Grano dei Miracoli, as well as its Spain La Pirata collaboration called Al Abordaje!, a big bold barleywine inspired by muscatel wine.
These BrewDog collaboration beers can also be found at Booth E24.
Hot on the heels of BrewDog is Heart of Darkness from Vietnam; the Saigon-based brewery will be offering the likes of its Saigon Passion Passionfruit Gose, a gently sour beer made in collaboration with Japan’s Kagua using Vietnamese passionfruit juice. There’s also a couple of collaboration brews it made with Fremantle, Western Australia’s Little Creatures; the Creature of Darkness Asian Wit ups the ante on a Belgian witbier using tangerine peel and Vietnamese balm for an easy drinking, citrus medley, while the Creature of Darkness New England IPA is a hazy zingy take with a big tangy citrus bitterness.
Heart of Darkness also has possibly the most collaborative of collaborative beers showcased at Beerfest Asia; the Evil Takes Two Roads Into Darkness Vietnamese Stout is a partnership with not just one, but two other breweries – Evil Twin and Two Roads from the United States. This is a stout version of ca phe sua da – Vietnamese iced milk coffee – made with roasted whole Vietnamese coffee beans.
You can find these Heart of Darkness collaborations at Booth E23.
Other brewery-to-brewery collaborations include The Skedaddler IPA, a West Coast style IPA featuring Idaho 7 and New Zealand Southern Cross hops made by San Diego-based breweries Stone Brewing and Societe Brewing, as well as the Undead Monk Belgian Stout, a collaboration between Rocky Ridge and Beerland Brewing of Western Australia (both available at Booth H09).
Then there’s the Choc Rock Rhubarbarian, a dark sour beer made with chocolate and rhubarb created by Beerfarm and Rocky Ridge also from Western Australia (you can find this at Booth E13-15).
Collaborations can involve non-beer brands as well, and Singapore’s own Brewlander has come up with two specialty brews made this way. The Fringe Project – 006 is an strong export porter made in collaboration with local chocolatier Fossa Chocolate, who roasted a special blend of cocoa nibs specially for this purpose. For The Fringe Project – 007 Brewlander head brewer John Wei worked with local coffee outfit Homeground Coffee Roasters for a coffee-infused pilsner inspired by pour-over coffee. You’ll find these beers at Booths E23 and E06-07 respectively.
You can also collaborate with a band! San Diego’s Stone Brewing made the Punk in Drublic Hoppy Lager with American punk rock band NOFX specially for a craft beer and music festival (this is available at Booth H09).
One of the more popular kind of brewing collaborations are those that take place between a brewery and a food or drinks venue; the idea is to create a specialty beer specific to the needs of the venue, but unlike merely white-labelling an existing product it’s to create an entirely new beer inspired by the values of the bar or restaurant.
For example, Can Lah! is a beer New Zealand’s Garage Project brewed in collaboration with Hawker & Roll as the perfect accompaniment to the latter’s take on Malaysian street food. Can Lah! is available from Booths E11, H24.
One of the more fun local examples would be Brewlander’s The Fringe Project – 009, a sour ale it made in collaboration with award-winning cocktail bar Native, known for foraging local ingredients for its cocktails. Brewlander head brewer John Wei and head bartender Vijay Mudaliar made this beer using rukam masam (above), an indigenous local cherry. “We went out together on a Sunday and collected 20 kg of (these cherries),” shares Mudaliar. This beer is available at Booth E06-07.
Pioneer Singapore craft beer hawker stall Smith Street Taps has developed not one, but three collaboration beers recently that are going to be featured at Beerfest Asia. The Port of Call Session IPA is an easy drinking lychee and Earl Grey tea based IPA they made with UK’s Fourpure; the Asam Boi Gose made with Beerfarm of Western Australia infused with asam boi, also known as sng buay (preserved salted plums) in local parlance, for a tangy flavour, while the Lemon Tea Pale Ale with Hong Kong’s Young Master Ales is inspired by iced lemon tea, a drink commonly found in Singapore’s kopitiams and Hong Kong’s cha chaan tengs. You can find these beers at Booth H09.
Beers brewed specially for events.
Then there are beers created for special occasions, such as events. Take for example the Fourpure British Strawberries & Cream. Launched on 15 June this year to celebrate Beer Day Britain, this sour ale is made with fresh British strawberries and heritage British malts and combines two great British summer traditions – beer and a spot of strawberries and cream. You can get this at Booth E24.
To celebrate its 10th year, Beerfest Asia has commissioned a number of anniversary beers that it will make available during the festival.
These include the Beer Halia, a spicy ginger beer made on their behalf by 1925 Brewing Co (Booth H04-05), the White IPA by Archipelago Brewery (E01-02), or the Dragonfruit Earl Grey Lager by RedDot Brewhouse (H02-03), and Smoking Lager by Paulaner Bräuhaus (EH04), all of which are Singapore-based breweries.
There’s also the Tell Him He’s Creaming by Moon Dog Craft Brewery from Melbourne, Australia (E15), a cream ale inspired by ice cream soda, as well as the Hibiscus Mead (E09-10) by mead specialists Gosnells from the UK.
Now there are many reasons to go to Beerfest Asia this year, but these collaboration beers – most of which are special limited one-off brews available only for a season – all gathered in one place should make this beer festival more than attractive to beer lovers of all stripes.