Singapore Trip – Village Hotel Changi & Village Hotel Katong

So in January 2016 I headed down to Singapore for Applehops Beer Bash, celebrating their 2nd anniversary.

Obviously being in Singapore for a few days, I needed somewhere to stay! For the first couple of days I stayed at Village Hotel Changi which is a beautiful peaceful retreat on the North East coast of Singapore (near the airport).

It’s a beautifully breezy area, great for cycling and you can even take a daytrip to Pulau Ubin. It’s a really good choice for Singaporeans looking for a staycation as well as they have activity packages a great buffet lunch and it’s well away from the hustle/bustle of the city.

There’s also a pretty nice food court (famous for nasi lemak) right across the road (Changi Village Hawker Centre).

Someone was excited to get to the hotel of course..

Village Hotel Changi

It was quite a drive to Singapore, as I followed Google maps and for some reason it took some weird arse way to a ferry terminal that I didn’t even know existed..that didn’t have a ferry until 8am the next morning (Tanjung Belungkor).

So yah, we were really glad to be there!

Village Hotel Changi

It’s a nice, bright spacious room with a big comfy bed, a writing desk, a small sofa/seating area, a tv a minifridge and a bathroom with both shower and bathtub (great for a baby).

Village Hotel Changi

The sitting area is especially useful for us, dealing with a rambuntious toddler who we need to sit down sometimes to drink his milk, eat some snacks etc. Overall a pretty child friendly hotel.

Service was really good too.

We had the buffet lunch at the hotel which is quite good value for money and is available every day with a broad variety of local and international delights. All the way from stuff like porridge with all the trimmings.

Village Hotel Changi

Which includes yau char gwai of course – one of Liam’s favourites!

Village Hotel Changi

To Sushi – one of our favourites!

They all have a good mix of other stuff, roast and grilled meats and seafood, pasta, salad and much more.

Village Hotel Changi

The absolute highlight for us at Changi Village was the pool, the main reason we went there, located on the 8th floor with a stunning view of the straits.

Village Hotel Changi

It was super breezy, fresh and totally relaxing – we spent hours up there. Even though it rained, we stayed in the pool anyway! Of course Liam absolutely loved it too, and there was a nice jacuzzi area too with a ledge for him to play on.

Village Hotel Changi

I was literally late for my event because I had too much fun hanging out in the pool haha, was sooo relaxing. Totally recommend it.

Village Hotel Changi

So overall I think Village Hotel Changi is a good spot for a getaway, especially to get out of the city, or as a quick stop-over near the airport. It may be a little far (around 30 mins drive) if you want to do a bunch of stuff in the city – but even then, the pool is kinda worth it!

It also has a nice, convenient spacious car-park which is included in the room price. Important to me as I was driving. Plenty of good food around within walking distance, shops, convenience stores and yes, there are Uber cars around there.

After that we moved to Village Hotel Katong, which is still on the East coast but much further in and nearer to the city.

This is an exceptionally beautiful hotel with a Peranakan influence, it feels rather swanky and is super cool as it’s basically on top of a small shopping Mall (which gives you access to a big grocery store, a few restaurants and hipster coffee).

Village Hotel Katong

The style is a really nice mix of modern slick aesthetics combined with Peranakan zest and details, it’s really, really nice.

You can see the details in the tiles which were placed around the room, like on the luggage stand and in the bathroom.

Village Hotel Katong

Really nice room to hang out in, watch TV, drink some craft beers, wonder downstairs for some Katong Laksa, grab some stuff from the grocery store under the hotel and just chill.

Village Hotel Katong

And yah, Liam found his favourite thing..the telephone haha. He loved the room too.

Village Hotel Katong

Definitely looking forwards to visiting there again!

Village Hotel Katong

Honsetly didn’t stay there long enough to really take it in, I’d love to stay there longer as it’s a nice area and a really beautiful hotel. It does have a small pool at the back, but we didn’t really have time to check it out.

Now I’m feeling like it’s time for another trip to Singapore! I need to pick-up some stuff anyway, check out the newly opened Mikkeller Singapore and well, have a holiday! Probably when we get back from Europe we’ll head back over in June/July.

See yah soon Singapore!

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Singapore Craft Beer: Druggists @ Kallang

Druggists is another legend of the Singapore Craft Beer scene, and one which focuses entirely on draught (no bottles at all). Which is not surprising as it’s from the same owner of The Great Beer Experiment in PasarBella, so they’ve separated out into bottles and draught.

Serving kickass craft beers all year round, with food that pairs beautifully with the brews. There’s nothing more perfect than walking into a restaurant with 23 taps serving kick-ass beers from cult breweries across the world. That’s what we thought and so Druggists will be tapping Mikkeller, TO-OL, Amager, DeStruise, DeMolen, Rooie Dop, Magic Rock, Thornbridge, Prairie Artisan, Birra Del Borgo all year round. Wait, there’s food too- hearty, delicious and curated to pair with these kick-ass beers. Momma would approve.

It’s situated in the Kallang area, or some people might say Jalan Besar, it’s about 4 blocks from the Lavender MRT station – so it’s probably a good idea to Uber there ;).

So, let’s talk about Druggists – they have a very impressive 23 taps which are pretty much always all in use. This gives you a pretty staggering range of beer and almost guarantees something for every palate, all the way from lager/pils up to barrel aged imperial stouts and some pretty nice sours.

For the beer geeks: If you want to order a big stout, order it a few glasses earlier and let it warm up as it’s served way too cold. Also note from my experience, big beers are usually best from the bottle (for some reason?).

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

It’s a pretty cool location, very trendy hipster-ish – repurposing a historic building and keeping the original facade and floor tiles intact give it a distinct feel. Less cookie cutter than the average modern, overly sculpted bar. Inspired by Chye Seng Huat maybe?

Druggists is situations in you guessed it, the old Chinese Druggists Association building – which was basically the pharmacists’ association back in the day.

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

It has a pretty interesting feel to it, not really like a bar, rather like you’re drinking excellent beer somewhere you aren’t supposed to – which is nice haha. It has the original facade, floor and keeps a very minimal almost kopitiam style inside with marble tables and classic chairs.

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

It has the original signboard (of something?) over the door on the inside too, reminiscent of those sifus and their medicine halls in the old kung-fu movies about Wong Fei Hung.

It’s not a huge place, nor is it cramped – there’s a lounge space and quite a bit of outdoor seating too for smokers – but beware it is a popular place and does get busy (especially at weekends).

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

Also note, popular kegs can finish really fast – so get there early if there’s something you really want to try.

It has a great range of beers, well served, but slightly on the pricey side. But then the location is very special and you always pay something for that. It’s definitely worth checking out.

When we were there we had:

– Shiga Kogen Sono 10 (Anniversary IPA)
– Thornbridge/Sierra Nevada Twin Peaks
– To Øl Black Ball
– Prairie Bomb! (Very disappointing on draught)
– Buxton Battle Horse

Yah I wonder where the glasses are from?

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

And why does The Great Beer Experiment have it’s own nice glasses, but we go there we have to drink from plastic cups? Haha, must be a Singapore thing – Thirsty is down with the plastic cups too.

Facebook: Druggists
Instagram: @druggists_sg
Address: 119 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207547
Phone: +65 6341 5967
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun: 16:00-00:00
Ratebeer location: Druggists | Singapore – RateBeer

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eForex – Mobile Currency Exchange in Malaysia

So recently I’ve tried out this new app from Merchantrade (the largest money exchange network in Malaysia) called eForex enables mobile currency exchange in Malaysia. The app allows you check live rates and book at that rate from the app itself, you can then pick up the money at one of their branches around KL.

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Introduction

The app is designed to make it easier for people who travel frequently for business or leisure to buy currency on the go and pick it up at their convenience, I think it would be especially useful if you needed more than 1 currency type for a trip and wanted to pick it up.

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Also if you needed something that’s often out of stock at the regular money changer (like JPY) you can book it using the app.

The main features are:

  • Over 20 preferred currencies to choose from
  • Live currency exchange rates
  • Set favourite currencies
  • Rate alerts notifications
  • Pick up point selector
  • Currency calculator
  • Secure online payments (FPX and MEPS)
  • Browse transaction history
  • Travel reminder

The alert features, booking money etc are only available after signing up for the app.

eForex App Review

The Good

Overall the app can make getting foreign currency arranged convenient and take the stress out of it (Midvalley parking?). Also you don’t have to worry about driving somewhere and them not having the currency you want.

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Main positive points for me would be:

  • It’s very convenient to check the current exchange rates even if you aren’t buying currency right now.
  • The app makes getting foreign currency really convenient, especially if the pick-up location is near you or your office and you get get there easily.
  • Rate alert feature is great if you are waiting for a certain currency to drop, or you want to buy it before it gets too expensive.
  • You can set a travel reminder in the app so you can get your currency in time.

The Ok

The rates provided are ok, better than the bank, but the ‘famous’ money-changers in malls are slightly better. I got a marginally better rate at my nearest Tesco as I was shopping there anyway and I didn’t realise the app needed a 3-day window between booking and collection (I wanted to collect the same day or the next day).

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Some kind of faster collection as a premium service would be better I think, and delivery would be great too.

The app is quite quick to load and responsive to use, and intuitive in most part.

Other

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

There are a few minor aspects outside of the core functionality that I’d like to see improved in the app, mainly:

  • Increase the duration in between each session expiry to minimize constant re-login. A sign-up function via Facebook or Google Account would be a cool add-on.
  • Branch search could show adjacent areas ordered by distance from my current location – so when I searched for where I live, it will show the nearest results.
  • A buy/order feature from the favourites screen would be an added advantage.
  • When you go to book currencies, your favourite currencies should be at the top of the list.

It’d also be great if the sign-up was a lot easier, like you only need to enter passport number etc if you want to book currency – then it saves it. Sign-up with Facebook/Google for a faster on-ramp just to use the rate alert features.

I think this would get more people using the app as registered users.

Conclusion

Overall it’s a decent app, with some minor functionality and UX improvements it could be very useful. If you want to check exchange rates often it’s worth a look and they offer decent rates if one of the branches is convenient for you check it out.

The app is available here:

eForex Android
eForex Apple

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Singapore Craft Beer: Smith Street Taps @ Chinatown Complex

What is more fitting in Asia than having draught craft beer in a food court! It doesn’t get much more rustic than that, and that’s what Smith Street Taps delivers – you can have a pint of freshly kegged IPA with your satay and claypot chicken rice.

An all-taps popup beer hawker stall featuring around 10 premium and craft beers on tap in Singapore’s Chinatown.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

Downside, as with any foodcourt in a tropical country – it’s bloody warm! But then again, it makes the cold beer even better.

Smith Street Taps is a little tricky to find, so allocate a few extra minutes to make your way there. If you Uber or take a Taxi get them to drop you at the Chinatown Complex, then make your way up to the 2nd floor (or 1st for if you’re British) you’ll find the stall at #62.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

It won’t be too hard to find once you get in the vicinity, just follow the throngs of people drinking high-quality beer in proper glassware and you’ll find it eventually. If you go fairly late, the rest of the food court will be deserted anyway.

They have around 10 taps, which rotate fairly fast – especially if there’s only one keg of something. You might reach there, decide to try something and it’s finished by the time you reach the front of the queue! It’s self service (not table service) obviously, so depending on what just kegged and if it’s near last call – there can be quite a queue.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

The range of beer is pretty impressive with beers from Japan, Sweden, USA, England, Scotland, Germany and Denmark on tap when I was there. Plus a good variety of styles from fairly light ales and wheats up to eye watering triple IPAs and imperial stouts.

The setup is pretty bare bones, with what is basically a bunch of kegerators with towers on top (2 taps on each fridge), but from what I saw it’s run properly with all connectors, taps and tubes being sanitized during keg changes to prevent contamination (the kind of things that are important to any beer geek worth his salt).

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

As for opening hours, due to the food court regulations it’s not open too late – last call is at 10:15pm and closing is at 10:30pm. So it’s a good spot to head for dinner and a nice beer before heading off somewhere else open a bit later (like Nickledime or Druggists)

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

Overall I had a good experience at Smith Street Taps and would recommend it, good beer served well in a proper Asian environment. It’s a must visit for tourists and a nice option for people from Singapore and Malaysia to have some cheaper food with great beer on draught.

Prices are reasonable, starting all the down at $6 for macro beer (Sapporo) and the rest around around $14-17 for a US Pint – which represents good value for high quality beer.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

We had a good time there and I look forwards to visiting again. I mainly went because they were closed on my last trip due to Beerfest Asia 2015 preparation and also they kegged their own beer, a session IPA collaboration brew with Hitachino made in Japan and brewed with koji.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

Thank you Smith Street Taps, I will see you again.

Beers I drank here were:

– Hitachino X Smith Street Sumisu Sutoreeto
– Dugges Two Packed
– Stone Double Bastard Ale
– Tempest Red Eye Flight

Facebook: Smith Street Taps
Twitter: @smithsttaps
Address: 335 Smith Street, #02-062, Chinatown Complex, Singapore 050335
Phone: +65 9430 2750
Opening Hours: 6.30pm-10.30pm Tueday-Saturday
Ratebeer location: Smith Street Taps | Singapore – RateBeer

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Malaysia Cybergames 2015 – Dota 2 and Team Secret!

So Malaysia Cybergames 2015 is a pretty big event, with the main attraction being a personal love of mine – Dota 2. Best game ever! The 3-day event which started on 11th December 2015, attracted 5255 gamers to compete across 4 tournaments for Dota 2, FIFA16, Counter Strike and Street Fighter IV ULTRA, with a total cash prize value of RM300,000 up for grabs.

Malaysia Cybergames 2015 - Dota 2

I dropped by on the last day to check the finals of the Dota 2 tournament between Team SatuDuaTiga (probably the favourites with star player YamateH) against Who2bet who isn’t so high profile, but does have an ex Fnatic player JoHnNy.

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How To Successfully Moderate a Tech Panel

So on pretty short notice, Arzumy managed to whip together a very successful, interesting CTO Summit – http://kl.cto.my/.

I helped him a little with the direction (Herding cats..) and the schedule and invited a few people, he asked me to speak but I didn’t feel I had enough to share yet – but I would be fine to moderate/host the panel discussion. A bunch of stuff techies don’t really talk about haha – and honestly it’s the hard stuff. The technical issues, there are plenty of meetups for those, StackOverflow answers, documentation, wikis and so on.

For the human issues? Not so much.

In this summit, we will focus on hiring, firing, retention, and culture. We’ll get to share with our peers about scaling up the team. How to remove obstacles? What’s the best way to manage conflicts? Generally on how to run a world-class engineering team.

Of course I seized my first opportunity to moderate a tech panel! I’ve been on a few panels before and watched plenty of streams/videos, so I had a reasonable idea what to do, but I did a bit more research on how to make it good – which is what I’ll share (and my experience) here.

So yah, here’s me hosting my first panel.

KL CTO Summit - Panel Discussion

Panel Format/Setup

An ideal panel format is around 45 minutes to one hour and contains 5-6 members, plus a moderator/host. You can do 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions, but it’s better if you for audience engagement from the start and do a full 60 minutes with input from the audience in every segment rather than separating it out.

I prefer a more open format (not behind a desk/table please), and moderator in the middle, with panelists at either side slightly facing each other. Remember this is supposed to be a discussion, so make the physical space contribute to that – manage the lighting, temperature, seating etc.

Provide water for the panelists if you can (or beer haha). Have a mic for everyone if you can.

Forget the slides, put a backdrop slide with the title of the topic, but IMHO don’t make slides and don’t allow participants to use slides either. You want it to be as ad hoc (but guided) as possible, slides tend to make things a bit staged/rehearsed and can take away the magic from a good discussion.

Choosing The Panelists

Choose people with opinions, and preferably those who can articulate them well. Be careful not to choose an accidentally biased panel, there’s not much more boring than a panel where everyone agrees on everything that is being discussed.

It’s supposed to be a discussion, including contrarian points, differing opinions and so on. That’s why my first choice is someone like Aaron Chipper, who’s both an arse and immensely experienced.

One way I’ve seen it put, is invite ‘DEEP’ panelists:

  • Diverse. Make sure the panel represents the demographic of the audience while ensuring a diversity of opinion and thoughts. A group that is in complete agreement can make a discussion boring.
  • Expertise. Invite a recognized authority or thought leader in the industry who possesses strong credentials. That person must establish credibility with the audience quickly via a biography or a 30-second introduction.
  • Eloquent. Panelists should be good conversationalists. Do they speak well on the phone? Did your interview with them produce a monologue or a discussion? Review video footage of your potential panelists to make sure they can keep the audience engaged and interested.
  • Prepared. Panelists must be willing to make a few key points and tell stories that illustrate those points. Preparation makes the difference between a mediocre panel and an amazing one.

If you have good panelists, you’ll have a good panel.

Preparing

As for preparation – as the host you should probably be doing the most, prime your panelists on the topic at a general level, but not with specifics like the questions you are going to ask.

Don’t spend any time with them as a group before the panel either, or you risk having the discussion you’re supposed to have before the panel begins and ruining the dynamics of the conversation and end up with everyone agreeing on stage (I’ve seen this happen).

Have some tough questions on hand if you can, something that create a bit of controversy, have some interesting stats or facts to set context for the audience and prepare your opening statement and introductions for each panelist.

Keep introductions short, 2 sentences per person and DO NOT let panelists introduce themselves. Also keep your opening spiel short, a couple of sentences is again enough just to set the context of the conversation.

Know as much as you can about the panelists and the topic at hand though, it will help you lead the discussion and prompt the right people to follow on points they know more about.

Hosting

So after all that, hosting is probably the easiest part haha – well apart from the closing..that’s definitely the easiest.

Bring the panelists on one by one, introduce them, seat them and thank them for taking part. Into yourself briefly, and do your opening statement/set the topic for the discussion then move straight into it.

Some people like to break it into 3 roughly equal (15-20) minute segments which are basically:

  1. 30,000ft Overview (Macro view or strategic level)
  2. Specifics (Detailed tactical)
  3. Audience Participation/Q&A

And whilst I find this interesting in theory, I think it’s kind of hard in practise as the discussion pretty much takes a life of it’s own once it starts and you just become an enabler. Which is a good point to, don’t stick to the script – remember this is a discussion so let it grow, keep it in control and enjoy it!

One of the main jobs (hence the moderation moniker) is to keep people on track and prevent them from going too far down the rabbit hole, if someone is going off on a tangent (or too deep on a point), politely but firmly pull them back and lead the discussion back on track by perhaps getting someone else to add a point.

Also don’t go too far down the same line of questioning, not every panelist has to answer every question – mix it up a bit and keep the pace lively/varied.

Get the audience involved as soon as possible, if you are asking the panelists pointed questions open the same questions to the floor and let people chip in (obviously depending on your audience). I went for this approach as everyone who attended was a CTO level person so everyone should have something to contribute.

Obviously when the audience is not on the same experience/expertise level as the panel, you might want to keep the questions to the end as they probably won’t be as valuable as the panel discussion itself.

Be positive, compliment your panelists and the audience – don’t be critical/negative to get a laugh. Remember you’re there to support/enable to the panelists – never contradict a panelist even if you’re 100% sure they are wrong.

A hard one for me was, don’t be a panelist! Haha, because I have plenty to add to the topic too – but that wasn’t my place as I was there to moderate and enable, not to take over the discussion.

Make sure you have someone helping you keep time, I didn’t really bother about the segments so I just had someone give me 10 minutes remaining, 5 minutes and 1 minute so I knew to start winding up, to lock it down then with 1 minute left to close it.

Closing

I think asking panelists for closing thoughts are trite, so I didn’t bother with that. Just wrap it up, if you can give a brief summary of what was discussed and any super salient points that came out of the discussion.

Ideally the discussion won’t end here, audience members will want to chat with panelists and hopefully whatever you have setup should allow for that.

Thank the panelists by name for their contributions, thank the audience for listening and/or taking part and anyone else you wanna thank (organiser, venue host etc).

And that’s it, you’re done – congrats!

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Singapore Craft Beer: Thirsty Craft Beer Shop @ Holland Village

So we’d already visited Thirsty at Liang Court and heard there was another branch in Holland Village with more interesting stuff.

I also wanted to buy a rice cooker and it happened PaRiSiLk was around there – always get good prices and find what I want there, so it was a fortunate coincidence.

Thirsty is the leading craft beer shop in Singapore, offering the largest selection of the most sought after craft beers from around the world.

Create your own six-pack or pick up a mixed case from any of our stores or order craft beers online and get your beers delivered right to your doorstep.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Holland Village

Holland Village Shopping Center is not an upmarket mall, it’s a regular old school every day mall in a residential area, it’s a very short walk from the nearest MRT station, no prizes for guessing correctly – Holland Village MRT Station.

There’s also a nice little Whisky shop inside the mall, quite near Thirsty called The Standish, where I grabbed a bottle of Glendronach.

The Thirsty here is small, but well stocked shop and IMHO has a greater range of World Beers than the Liang Court branch. It’s definitely less US and IPA centric, with many more tasty brews from Europe.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Holland Village

Stuff from Nøgne Ø, Siren, Wild Beer, Buxton, BrewDog and many more.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Holland Village

Of course they have the great US stuff and IPAs too from Ninkasi, Green Flash, Stone, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Deschutes and so on.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Holland Village

There is a small well stocked fridge too for drinking on premise.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Holland Village

They just had a bunch of Omnipollo stuff land when we were there too, which was fortunate as we were waiting for those! Excellent timing haha, the beer gods smiling on us.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Holland Village

Bottles I picked up here:

– Buxton Stronge Extra Stout
– BrewDog / Victory Brewing U-Boat
– Omnipollo Hypnopompa
– Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar

It’s a great little shop, and I would have liked to have spent a little time having some tasty beverages there, will definitely be back again.

Very much recommended!

Facebook: Thirsty Craft Beer Shop
Instagram: @thirstybeershop
Address: #02-16 Holland Village Shopping Centre, 211 Holland Ave, Singapore 278967
Phone: +65 9354 1952
Opening Hours: 10.30am-8m 7 days a week
Ratebeer location: Thirsty – The Beer Shop | Singapore – RateBeer

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Beerfest Asia 2015 In Singapore – My Review

It just so happened when our group was heading down to Singapore for the Yellow Belly tasting and to do a little craft beer tour around Singapore, it was the same weekend as Beerfest Asia 2015 – it wasn’t the purpose of our visit, but we thought why not drop by for a while seen as though we’re there.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

I’ve actually never been before, the event itself has been running since for a number of years and has garnered quite a following (18,000 people in 2013, 30,000 last year and 32,000 this year) – so it’s quite a large scale event. It wasn’t that busy though, perhaps because we were quite late.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

It’s not really a high end beer event, and in many aspects, it’s not even a craft beer event. The amount of craft beer there as compared to the beer available in general, is in a small minority with the festival being dominated by subsidiaries of SABMiller and ABInBev.

Don’t expect to see stuff from 3 Floyds, Bruery, Alesmith, Mikkeller, Jester King, Hill Farmstead, Russian River, Toppling Goliath or anything similar. The beer list is dominated by stuff like Singha, Strongbow, Koppaberg, Heineken, Grolsch and so on.

There’s the odd few good beers from the guys at Smith Street Taps and TSA Wines, and even the guys with the good beers combined themselves into just 2 stands rather than splitting themselves out – as the appreciation for the high quality beers you find at places like The Great Beer Experiment and Thirsty just isn’t really there at a large scale festival like this.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

But do you know who the main festival sponsors are? Yah, not even macro beer brands..Jagermeister and Monster Energy – really? At a beer event?

This is no CBC or GABF – that’s for sure.

And even small scale beer events in the UK like Indy Man Beer Con or Birmingham Beer Bash put them to shame in terms of variety, quality and focus.

Mostly it felt like a music festival, the music was too loud, it was hot, there’s wasn’t any really exciting beer to try, there was lots of companies with corporate accounts having free flow or sponsored VIP seats.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

The crowd was fairly young, mostly drinking the more normal beers, there wasn’t a huge gathering at the more specialist beer stands.

The outdoor area, UOB area and VIP areas (with Jagermeister girls, free flow beer etc) were far busier than the mostly craft beer side of the festival.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

We had fun though as the importers opened some special bottles for us, so we got to try some really interesting UK beers. Mostly stuff from Siren and Weird Beard like Sadako, Whiskey Sour etc.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

The ‘welcome’ beers which you get with the rather expensive ticket were very disappointing. And the ticket price, at $40SGD, wasn’t cheap for one macro beer and that’s all (food had to be paid for, all other beers had to be bought using tokens so the organisers could take a cut from the vendors).

Would I go back again? Honestly I don’t know, if I got free tickets and happened to be in Singapore – maybe, to support the craft beer guys in Singapore.

But likely? Not really, huge noisy, sweaty, unfocused events are not really my cup of tea now I’m old anyway – I’d prefer to go support the Singapore craft beer scene at their bars and bottle shops.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

We had a good day anyway, having been at Thirsty and having some wicked ramen at Tampopo haha.

Plus met up with some friends, and there were a few good beers for sale, we managed to pick up some Belgian sours, Moa Imperial Stout and a couple of other nice drinkers. Nothing spectacular though.

I’d love to see a proper beer festival in Asia, for the love of beer, all about craft beer (or great beer from big brewers like Fuller’s Imperial Stout). Where you pay your ticket price, you get a glass and you can basically drink whatever you want.

Some things only have 1 keg, some beers are only made by the brewer specifically for that festival and the focus is trying new amazing beers! People would definitely travel regionally for something like that, and possibly even internationally if it was really World class.

There are some rumblings regionally, like Beertopia in Hong Kong which had some superb beers and has very relevant sponsors, including Spiegelau glasses! Here’s the beer list of 551 beers, tell me how many macro breweries you spot in there?

And they have incredible beers from Founders, Jolly Pumpkin, Stillwater, Omnipollo, De Molen, 8 Wired and MANY more. Maybe I’ll head over there next year instead 😉

For me, I hope to see more events in Asia promoting the spirit of craft beer, experimentation, pushing the small guys up, supporting the local craft beer scene in the region and much more about education and consumer awareness rather than just volume.

More cultured, less commercial events with guided tastings, food pairing events, local beer judging contents, home-brew contests – those kind of things that really help the craft beer scene take hold as a part of the FnB scene overall.

Beerfest Asia 2015 - Singapore

Another small detail that annoyed me was the fact that the website and organisers stated it was a non-smoking event and venue, and that it would be enforced with fines. But I saw people smoking in the venue, and no one really gave a second glance (including security who walked right past) – as long as they keep paying right?

Oh yah, one more..last one I promise. Where was the event companion app? The app based guide which helped me search for beers, locate which stall they were at, and where I could find that stall? You could roll out a simple webview app for this with almost no budget, forget geolocation and fancy tricks, just a basic listing app with a search function and a static map which can show you where to go (like the directories in shopping malls).

Beerfast Asia is a booze and music event, not a craft beer event – so don’t be mistaken. As for supporting the local scene, they had Archipelago probably because it’s a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Breweries, but where was RedDot, Brewerkz, 1925, The Pump Room, LeVeL 33, and Hospoda? I think Jungle Beer has gone MIA – but still – I was kinda disappointed at the showing of local Singapore brews.

I guess it’s worth going once, and if you’re around next year in Singapore you can keep up with what they’re doing below.

Website: http://www.beerfestasia.com/
Twitter: @beerfestasia
Facebook: Beerfest Asia

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Singapore Craft Beer: Thirsty Craft Beer Shop @ Liang Court

After lunch at Nickeldime Drafthouse, we headed to Thirsty Craft Beer Shop at Liang Court, this joint is another bottle shop in Singapore, this time in a shopping centre around the popular Clark Quay area. It’s a small square with a rather huge range of American centric craft beers, if you love IPA – this is the place in Singapore you need to visit.

Thirsty is the leading craft beer shop in Singapore, offering the largest selection of the most sought after craft beers from around the world.

Create your own six-pack or pick up a mixed case from any of our stores or order craft beers online and get your beers delivered right to your doorstep.

You can drink on premise, with plastic cups as usual. They do have some ‘big’ beers occasionally, but it really depends on your luck and it’s most likely to be from the hop forward breweries (Stone, Dogfish Head, Ballast Point) rather than wild ale, sours or the other more ‘out there’ styles.

It’s pretty easy to find, on the 2nd floor on Liang Court, you can get there via the MRT (City Hall) and a short bus journey or walk.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Liang Court Singapore

They open at midday every day at close at 10pm when the mall closes (last orders 9.30pm). It’s a pretty cool place to hang-out with 2-3 small tables in side and plenty of good food around (especially Japanese) like Tampopo Ramen on the ground floor.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Liang Court Singapore

They have a pretty broad range of bottles with a small selection of English beers, Japanese beers and a few others from Belgium, Australia etc. But I can safely say it’s at least 85% US Craft brews with some that I hadn’t seen before like Ironfire Brewing.

Plus some real classics like Lagunitas Maximus, Ballast Point Sculpin, Dogfish Head 90 minutes and so on. And other well known brewers like New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog and so on.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Liang Court Singapore

They try and keep pretty much at least one of everything in the fridge ready to drink, if what you want isn’t there you can get them to put it in the fridge and start with something else.

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Liang Court Singapore

The group shot, without us of course (as usual) haha, these are the beers we had at Thirsty:

– Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
– Lagunitas Maximus IPA
– Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
– Ballast Point Sculpin
– Ballast Point Big Eye
– Ironfire Brewing Comnpany Collateral Damage
– Anchor Porter
– Lindemans Kriek
– New Belgium Fat Tire
– Sierra Nevada Torpedo
– Mike Hess Solis
– Mike Hess Jucundus
– Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

13 beers in total, and you can see, very IPA heavy, those non IPA beers we tried, were not so great.

The surprise stand-out of the session for me was Mike Hess, who I’ve never heard of – but makes wonderfully balanced beers, the Solis Occasus was fantastic. Of course 90 Minute IPA and Sculpin are up there amongst the best there is out there (both top 50 for Imperial IPA and IPA respectively).

Thirsty Craft Beer Shop - Liang Court Singapore

All in all, worth a visit if you want to have bit of a light beer session. Don’t go here looking for any super heavy, big dark or interesting Belgium (De Struise) or American (Alesmith, Bruery etc) brews. For that kind of stuff, you’re way better off at The Great Beer Experiment.

But for IPA and lighter beers, including really legendary stuff, they have probably the best selection in Singapore by a fare distance. They do have a few really top notch brews in other categories like the legendary Scotch Ale called Old Chub by Oskar Blues (I just wish they had Ten Fidy as well!).

As the name gives you a clue, it is a great place to have an ice cold IPA when you’re thirsty.

Facebook: Thirsty Craft Beer Shop
Instagram: @thirstybeershop
Address: 177 River Valley Road, #02-34, Liang Court Shopping Centre, Singapore 179030
Phone: +65 6256 0261
Opening Hours: 12pm-10pm 7 days a week
Ratebeer location: Thirsty – The Beer Shop | Singapore – RateBeer

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Singapore Craft Beer: Nickeldime Drafthouse @ Novena

Our second entry about the Singapore craft beer scene after The Great Beer Experiment, now we look at Nickledime Drafthouse in Novena (just literally 200m from Novena station).

Our knowledgeable, friendly staff, cozy atmosphere, and great food and beer will make you want to keep coming back.

We celebrate choice and quality with an extraordinary range of strange and wonderful brews. Offering the best variety of beer available, and our dedication to providing excellent service in comfortable surroundings. the emphasis is on draught beer from the best international, national, and local breweries supplemented with a large selection of bottled beers, ciders, and wine.

It’s a fairly accessible location due to the proximity of the station, with a nice space that has an industrial type interior and 15 taps of well served draft craft beer.

Nickledime Drafthouse

It may look slightly different now, as the left side of the picture has now been turned into 501 Sake Bar rather than the previous bottle shop.

Nickledime Drafthouse

It’s quite a fun space with colour draft boards and sport on the televisions, a good social beer drinking environment rather than a hardcore beer geek hangout.

Nickledime Drafthouse

In saying that though, it’s definitely a place suitable for beer geeks as they have a big focus on serving beer the right way, and you can taste it in the glass. They clean every beer line with a 2 week cadence and they have a system to ensure the correct temperature delivery of the beer from keg to glass. So the focus on beer and quality is there for sure.

While we were there they had beer on draft from breweries like Anderson Valley, Heretic, Rogue, BBNO, Well’s, Lost Coast and Stone.

Nickledime Drafthouse

Another aspect that pleased me is the integration of beer with food, which is actually a large part of craft beer. Where as wine in some ways is rather simplistic (it basically has 1 ingredient) it struggles a little with bold flavours, beer is there. Beer can be served with anything from delicate fresh salmon, to fiery hot curry and all the way to rich indulgent chocolate truffles.

EVERY item on the menu is cooked with some kind of beer! I had the fish and chips with ale batter and apparently the burgers are excellent.

Nickledime Drafthouse

They have items like IPA burgers, stout meatballs, beer dough pizza, stout braised beef ragu (delicious) and much more. Definitely some interesting stuff.

We mainly headed there for lunch, so we didn’t do a heavy session and we’ve had a lot of what was on tap, we just had 5 beers at Nickledime which were:

– Lost Coast Brewery Great White
– CREW Republic Drunken Sailor
– BrewFist Space Frontier
– Brew By Numbers 01|08 Saison Wai-Iti & Lemon
– Summer Wine Brewery Sin City

And they were a pretty light selection, as we’d had quite a heavy night before that and we were heading to Thirsty straight after haha. So nothing super memorable.

A tasting paddle of 5 beers, available for SGD25 at 150ML per tasting glass (before 7pm only).

Nickledime Drafthouse

They did have some excellent bottles though, I picked up a few there (including Stone Imperial Russian Stout which a Ratebeer Top 50 entrant at #48) and a couple of others I wanted to from the selection including Japanese (Minoh Imperial Stout) and British breweries (Buxton Stronge).

Nickledime Drafthouse

Overall Nickledime is a great place to chill, have some lunch or dinner and get some great, fresh, correctly served craft beer. They have a small but extremely varied selection of bottled beers to takeaway, which is always a bonus.

Definitely worth a look for craft beer lovers in Singapore.

Facebook: Nickledime Drafthouse
Address: 273 Thomson Rd, #01-06 Novena Gardens, Singapore 307644
Phone: +65 6256 0261
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu & Sun: 11am-11pm Fri & Sat: 11am-1am
Ratebeer location: Nickeldime Drafthouse | Singapore – RateBeer

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