There’s a classic adage that goes along the lines of: if you want something done right, do it yourself. That’s exactly what came to mind when I first heard of this home activity that is catching up amongst beer lovers in Singapore – home beer-brewing.
With the advent of shops in Singapore that sell home brewing kits, more Singaporeans are taking it to their kitchens or basements to host their own mini-breweries.
An activity mostly enjoyed by beer enthusiasts and those looking to create customized special flavors for themselves, this endeavor has caught wind amongst many in the local crowd – thanks to shops like iBrew. iBrew is the local retailer of beer kits, brewing sugars, malt extracts – everything you’ll need to make your own beer at home.
Brewing With Keola
I’m clueless when it comes to alcoholic drinks, but I do have friends who take their alcohol seriously. One such friend is Keola Ho. A longtime friend of mine, it was through Keola that I first heard of this.
A self-professed beer-lover, 24-year-old designer Keola, along with his good friend Kyler, brew their own beer once every 2 months in the basement of his Bukit Timah family home.
“Before I started brewing my own beer, I thought that the process would be taxing, time-consuming, and expensive” he explained.
“One day, my brother brought home a hobby kit and we tried our first batch of beer with it. It was delightful. Even if it wasn’t the full brewing process, I had so much fun.”
Since then, Keola has been brewing his own beer at home for close to a year on a regular basis, and celebrates every bottling occasion by having friends over for a mini gathering.
A Test Of Patience
While it may sound daunting and complicated to the layman, brewing is actually more simple than it seems. One can purchase a basic home-brewing starting kit online or at iBrew for under $200.
This includes bottles, a fermenting container, and malt extracts – just to name a few. It also yields a total of 23 liters of beer for every batch, which I found impressive.
A detailed step-by-step guide on how to use the kit can also be found online. According to said guide, follow it closely and you can have your very first home brew in about 2 weeks. It would also be handy if you had a fridge with controllable temperature settings to ferment your beer in and some space in your kitchen to store your bottles.
However, like all other kitchen hobbies such as baking and cooking, this activity requires some level of patience and keen attention to detail.
“You have to make sure everything is cleaned and sanitized. A major cause of failure in brewing is infection.”
Keola says that paying close attention to following the steps is also important in ensuring that you do everything the right way.
“Finally, you’ve got to wait out the fermentation period to finally see what you have produced. Even then, you still have to wait to know if it turns out well or bad. You’ll definitely need some patience doing this.”
Long waiting time aside, the process seems straightforward enough – mix everything in the kit into the container, fill individual bottles with the mix and store them at a controlled temperature of 21 degrees Celcius. Let them sit for 2 weeks and they’ll be good to go.
That being said, this is but a hobby kit – it has been deliberately made easy-to-execute by the people that manufactured them. The real process of beer brewing is much more deliberate and complex, and require years of practice and skill to properly master.
With such hobby kits available, however, it is no wonder that many are trying it out for themselves.
“My friends and I love beer, so we meet up once in awhile to share bottles brought back from overseas or new flavors, along with our own home brews.
Singapore’s bar scene has been growing exponentially over the past few years, uniting many local talents with internationally renowned bartenders, leading to the rise of new flavors and brews.
Naturally, this also means that more locals are having a more refined taste for beer.
“I think the Singaporean’s beer palette is starting to adapt to all the different crazy flavors beer has to offer these days.”
In order to accommodate their passion for new and exciting flavors, a lot have taken to brewing it themselves. Unfortunately, you can’t sell beers you make at home so its usually shared at a private event or at the local annual homebrew competition iBrew Challenge organized by iBrew.
“Other than that there are more local breweries popping up these past few years, with some amazing beers being brewed locally right now.”
A Worthy Investment
Brewing your own beer at home can be expensive in the long run. Ingredients need to be purchased continuously if one is looking to brew a lot and it takes a great deal of patience and time, so it is by no means a cheap and simple hobby.
“Make sure you’re really into it – you don’t want to spend a few hundred bucks on a hobby kit that you would use twice a year.”
When you have something that you are passionate about, however, it can all be worth it in the end.
He says it’s best to start with friends or family you know, since everyone can enjoy the finished product together.
“That’s what beer is all about!”