The proliferation of homegrown breweries across the region speaks volumes about Asia’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Last year, Burbrit Brewery debuted in Yangon as Myanmar’s first microbrewery, while Hanoi welcomed new upstarts such as 7 Bridges Brewing Co and Barett Craft Beer. Earlier this year, the arrival of Macalister Brewing Co further boosted Cairns’ fledgling craft culture, as Brewlander & Co did for Singapore when it launched this March.
A growing middle class and a rise in disposable income in Asia have helped fuel this brewing boom, as craft beers are generally pricier than mass-produced lagers. Additionally, a growing number of travellers to the United States and Europe have been exposed to quality craft beers, bringing a new-found penchant for these brews back with them. Take, for instance, Brewlander & Co’s Singaporean brewmaster, John Wei, who became seriously invested in home-brewing after a trip to the UK.
As the volume of locally brewed beers in Asia skyrockets, so too has the number of bars and bottle shops specialising in imported ale. International craft beer companies also want in: for instance, acclaimed Danish brewery Mikkeller now has flagship bars in Singapore, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
Unfortunately, government regulations have complicated growth. In Singapore, high alcohol taxes drive costs up on both local and imported beer; in Thailand, many small craft breweries operate illegally due to prohibitive regulations. But such red tape evidently hasn’t prevented the region’s craft beer scene from taking off.
Indeed, while challenges loom – as they do for any emerging market – it looks like Asia’s thirst for craft beer is here to stay.
Love, Brewlander & Co, Singapore
Singapore’s newest craft brewery amply hops its signature IPA with varietals that impart pungent tropical fruit aromas, while a wild brewer’s yeast lends a hint of funk.
Guimaras Gose, The Cebruery, Cebu
The Cebruery strikes a perfect balance between salty and sour with its German-style ale that marries fresh mangoes with local sea salt.
Two Turtles, Barrier Reef Brewing Co, Cairns
Perfect for a beach picnic, Two Turtles is a light pale ale that hits the taste buds with citrusy fruit flavours and toasted malt.
Kure Weizen, Kure Beer, Hiroshima
This award-winning German-style wheat beer is sweet and fruity, with distinct aromas of bananas and cloves, as well as a creamy mouthfeel.
Cà Phê Bia, Furbrew, Hanoi
Furbrew’s caffeinated collaboration with Kok Coffee is a heavy, decadent 10.6% ABV milk stout brewed with robusta beans, lactose sugar and roasted chocolate wheat.
This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.