Thirty Six Brewlab & Smokehouse takes over from Little Creatures Singapore to offer up a spread of – dare we say it – better beers and eats.
The Singapore outpost of Fremantle, Australia’s Little Creatures Brewing was quietly closed in June this year. First opened in 2018, the brewery restaurant on Mohamed Ali Lane had been a hit, especially with the burgeoning expatriate Australian community in Singapore. While most pointed the accusing finger at COVID restrictions that plagued the local F&B scene for its closure, scuttlebutt was that brand owner Kirin had wanted to consolidate the brewery’s holdings (its Hong Kong taproom and restaurant was similarly shuttered). A right shame.
In its place is Thirty Six Brewlab & Smokehouse. The space has only seen some minor facade touchups by new owners Lion Brewery Co, so it still looks and feels much like its predecessor. They even retained most of the front-of-house staff, who continue the over 20 taps pouring fresh beer for thirsty patrons as before.
But are they anywhere similar though? Hardly.
Thirty Six essentially acts as Lion Brewery Co’s informal and unofficial taproom, offering a range of the local microbrewery’s beers here. You can expect, for example, Lion’s Island Lager and Straits Pale Ale permanently on tap. But what’s rather unique here are its hand-pumped ales – Thirty Six has three of these engines, and there’s at least one cask ale, such as the Leon de Oro, available at any one time. British-style hand-drawn ales are rare in Singapore, and Thirty Six may be one of the very few beer venues in Singapore with a permanent cask ale on offer.
But Thirty Six is also home to a working brewery itself; when Lion Brewery Co took over the space, they also retained the services of head brewer Greg Brown.
The quiet and unassuming Australian is considered in the tightly-knit local brewing community as one of its most talented brewers, previously helping to put out a stream of well-made, interesting beers for Little Creatures from this kit on 36 Club Street. Brown continues to build on that with his new role, creating beers most of which are fun, experimental, and seasonal, too.
Consider the Violet No Regard, a purple hued beer coloured with the use of butterfly pea flower. The Something Something is an American Pale Ale that explodes with bright hop flavours, while the Anzac Biscuit Ale – as one can ascertain from the name – is a malty, biscuity “Australian” Ale.
There’s more: Raspberry Beer-et is a Berliner Weisse that’s infused with fresh raspberries, while This One Goes To Eleven is a Triple IPA that clocks in at, you guessed it, 11% ABV. It’s a diverse range of beer styles, which takes skill.
The food’s a lot better than before when it was Little Creatures too. The new menu at Thirty Six is centred upon a custom-built brick hearth, and executive chef Kwek Xiu Rong has put together a rather eclectic set of eats that draws inspiration from all over. They are a lot more adventurous than the predictable pub food Little Creatures was slinging out previously, for sure.
For example Chef Kwek’s version of Scotch Egg uses a regular sausage base for the casing, but also some nduja for punchier flavours as well as a touch of Impossible Meat for texture. The Crusted Calamari is basically calamari fritti, but the burnt lime and leek ash aioli it comes with is absolutely sublime.
His Spicy Pork Belly Satay is amazing, even though it tastes nothing like the satay we know. Here chunky pieces of pork belly have been marinated in sambal before being slathered with kicap manis and grilled. Then there’s the Charred Beef Short Rib Minute Steak. Cross-cut beef short rib is normally employed as Korean-style galbi, but Chef Kwek gives it a more savoury, contemporary European spin. Both come perfectly grilled.
For something more familiar and comforting, the Fish and Chips at Thirty Six is totally on point. Imagine well-fried halibut with a beer-battered crust made using Lion Brewery Co’s Straits Pale Ale, served up with home style fries. Absolute yum.
We were a lot less enthralled with the Wood Fired Cauliflower. The grilled cauliflower itself was tasty, but only a vegan – or someone with health considerations – would force themselves to eat the cauliflower rice it comes on. But we’re just nitpicking.
Thirty Six Brewlab & Smokehouse is exactly the kind of brewery restaurant you’d expect to find in craft beer-loving cities – San Diego, London, Vancouver, and Melbourne, among others. That a small brewery restaurant like this in Singapore that can push out some cutting-edge beers to pair with some great eats? Gold.
Thirty Six Brewlab & Smokehouse
Address 36 Club Street, Singapore 069469 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 10.30pm Mondays to Fridays; 10am to 10.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Tel (65) 6239 0350