How To Successfully Moderate a Tech Panel

So on pretty short notice, Arzumy managed to whip together a very successful, interesting CTO Summit –

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.


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.


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.


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.

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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Singapore Craft Beer: The Great Beer Experiment @ PasarBella

So where do you drink good craft beer in Singapore? That’s a tough question and one I tried to answer in my recent trip down for the special Singapore Yellow Belly Tasting. So let’s begin with the favourite of the group and also the place I personally enjoyed the most during our trip.

The GREAT BEER EXPERIMENT, a craft beer and cider bottle shop & bar, is a playground which promises to “Tickle, Test and Tempt” all palates and preferences. There’s a gob-smacking range of craft beer labels to please both beer noobs and beer geeks, plus rare and limited edition brews. Awesome beers are released on tap weekly so follow us on Facebook to get the latest update.

A wide range of international craft beers across all different types and styles

Granted a few places were closed, and there’s a few we skipped, but for this trip in June 2015 The Great Beer Experiment won in all aspects including comfort, beer selection, environment and food availability – a 360 degree win.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

It’s located in the Bukit Timah area of Singapore on Turf Club Road as part of The Grandstand in a rather upmarket food court called PasarBella, right at the back left corner.

I think I like it as well because of the food there, it’s a rather up-market ‘Western’ style food-court modelled in some ways after Borough Market in London, the food there is great and there’s a wide variety including local fare like siu yuk and western stuff like paella, charcuterie and cheese. We also had a tasting platter including AOP cave aged cheeses which was amazing.

The vendors there are knowledgeable and passionate about food, and even if you’re not into beer it’s worth going there just to eat.

The shop/bar itself has 3 taps which rotate, when we were there they had Magic Rock on tap – excellent beer.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

And they have an impressive range of bottles, which is was drew us there and kept us there. As a retail environment it’s quite intelligently laid out, with a stand next to the counter with the newst arrivals, which have descriptive tags attached and they also often bundle sampler packs.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

And what was great for us, was they have a large section of their beers ready in the fridge for drinking – which kept us there many hours.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

Overall bottle wise they have a fantastic selection of both American and European breweries from the likes of Mikkeller, Kaapse, Amager, De Molen, Prairie, Rooie Dop, To Øl, Rochefort, Rodenbach, De Struise and many many more.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

A good few Trappist beers too (Rochefort, Westmalle, Orval), but of course no Westvleteren haha.

Enjoyed a Bea by Kaapse brewery too, the first time I’d heard of them and had something – it was good. So good in fact I later visited their brewery and brewpub in Rotterdam, and their beer was EVEN better fresh.

Kaapse - Bea

And yah, I’m sure if you’re eating in PasarBella, you might well find your missing husband here haha.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

A great place to hang out.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

And of course, beer geeks taking pictures of beer – because that’s what they do. Look at the focus of the torch-bearer Peter ensuring optimal lighting for master Tai to take what we affectionately refer to as the ‘group shot’ haha.

Basically all the bottles after we finish a session tasting.

Beer Geeks Taking Photos of Beer

Here’s my version of the bottle shot. A respectable 16 beers between 4 of us. Quite a selection and variety of styles.

The Great Beer Experiment - Singapore

What we had:

– Mikkeller Better Half
– Mikkeller Keeper
– Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake
– Mikkeller George! Barrel Aged (Calvados Edition)
– Rochefort Trappistes 10
– De Molen Bloed, Zweet & Tranen (Blood, Sweat & Tears)
– Kaapse Carrie
– Kaapse Bea
– Rodenbach Grand Cru
– Rodenbach
– Amager The Sinner Series: Gluttony
– Amager / Grassroots Black Nitro
– Prairie Eliza5beth
– Prairie Fred’s Blend
– Rooie Dop Tupinquin
– Struise Pannepot Grand Reserva 2010

Highlights for me were definitely Fred’s Blend with it’s really strong coffee nose, viscous engine oil pour which follows with a really mild mellow chilli burn afterwards – beautiful beer. Also George! Calvados which was rich, sweet, savoury, sweet, malty, brandy – wow.

Maybe it was the company it was in, but Pannepot Grand Reserva 2010 was surprisingly disappointing.

So yah, great place – if you’re in Singapore and you’re into beer this is an absolute must visit. If you’re with a group, prepare to spend quite a long time there as we did (I think almost 7 hours in total from lunch time we left just before dinner).

Another plus point, because obviously you’ll be drinking a lot of beer! The bathroom is right next door haha.

I also fully recommend the roast pork from Keith Crackling Roast and the cheese tasting platter from The Cheese Ark.

Facebook: TheGreatBeerExperiment
Instagram: @greatbeerexperiment
Address: Stall #46, PasarBella @ The Grandstand (200 Turf Club Rd.), 287994, Singapore
Phone: +65 6469 7291
Opening Hours: Mon: 10:00-19:30 Tues-Sun: 10:00-22:00
Ratebeer location: The Great Beer Experiment | Singapore – RateBeer

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A Beer Tasting In Singapore With Omnipollo / Buxton Yellow Belly

So it turns out my passion is beer, craft beer, not macro beer. I love it, it’s interesting, varied (and not as expensive as whisky). So I’ve decided instead of neglecting my blog, I’d better write about beer instead – so here we are. My first attempt at reviving my blog with a direction haha (no, I’ll not write exclusively about beer, I’ll still cover other stuff too) – but at least I have a bunch of content to write about now.

Recently a group of us (my craft beer geek tasting group) had an invite down for a beer tasting in Singapore to try a very special beer from a very special beer supplier in the southern island called Applehops. Applehops specialises in distributing English beer (yay) to Singapore and Malaysia and brings in fantastic stuff from Weird Beard, Siren, Wild Beer, Beavertown and many more.

He’s also expanding his range with stuff from Omnipollo and coming soon Brekeriet – I can’t wait to see what else he brings in.

The tasting also coincided with Beerfest Asia 2015, so we decided to spend a few days in Singapore exporing the beer scene, which is growing fast there. I’ll cover the whole trip, the venues we visited and Beerfest in following posts, but for now I’m going to start with the tasting itself and the reason we went pretty much – Omnipollo/Buxton Yellow Belly a legendary beer.

I was really, really late! I drove down from KL and there was a jam, I left late due to some work stuff and I got there after the tasting had started. Very luckily for me, my hotel was literally a 2 minute walk from the place we had the tasting, a small joint called Artistry Cafe, which apparently serves amazing brunch.

I stayed at the Village Hotel Bugis, which was a great place in a good location with parking and nice modernised rooms in a fairly old building.

When I arrived, I was greeted with this – a very rare beer Weird Beard Sadako (Ardbeg BA) – strong peaty whisky on the nose, iodine, Ardbeg in the mouth, barrel forwards with a smooth oily finish. Rather nice! Some might call it a long whisky cocktail, fortunately for me I rather like Ardbeg so it’s ok for me!

Weird Beard Sadako

There was quite a few bottles popped when I arrived, but thankfully for me..there was something left in all of them – even The Kernel ale, which was my first time having a taste of the legendary brewery.

Yellow Belly Tasting Singapore

And the beer I came all the way to Singapore to try? Still very much wrapped up, and yes it kind of look like a KKK’s intentional as it’s a beer against racism.

To us, one of the most cowardly deeds is to act anonymously, hiding behind a group. A signifying trait of institutionalised racism.
This beer is brewed to celebrate all things new, open minded and progressive. A peanut butter biscuit stout with no biscuits, butter or nuts. Taste, enjoy, and don’t be prejudiced.

Omnipollo / Buxton Yellow Belly

And as with every post of course, the beer geeks taking group shots haha.

Beer Geek Activity

And here’s the money shot!

What we had (from left to right):

– Beavertown Bloody ’Ell
– Siren / Omnipollo / Rick Gordon Lindqvist Nacken (BA with Brett)
– Siren Barrel Aged Daydream
– Siren Long Forgotten Journey
– Omnipollo / Buxton Yellow Belly
– The Kernel Pale Ale (Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin, Ella Rakau)
– Weird Beard / London Amateur Brewers Hive Mind
– Weird Beard Something Something Darkside
– Weird Beard Sadako (Ardbeg BA)
– Wild Beer Bibble

Yellow Belly Tasting Singapore

Just 10 beers, but enough to knock me out after a long drive down from KL haha, and some of them were heavy stuff. Here’s a very rare, shot of us – as a group haha. The Singapore beer invaders.

Yellow Belly Tasting Singapore

And a not so serious shot..yah well we did just have 10 rather strong beers!

Yellow Belly Tasting Singapore

Anyway back to the topic at hand, how was the tasting you ask? How was Yellow Belly pray tell? Does it live up to the hype?

It was a tasting that changed my perception on English beers honestly and opened up my mind to what was out there, by that time I’d already had some great beers – but due to the stuff we get in KL I wasn’t so in tune with the amazing, mind-bending beers coming out the UK.

It was a really interesting tasting with a small selection that has a staggeringly wide palate, Bloody ‘Ell, Hive Mind and Bibble were honestly just ok – pretty simple, easy to drink session beers. But most of the rest, were quite interesting and different in some way.

Notable being the Ardbeg BA Sadako as described above..along with Nacken which smelled like cider gone bad, had some white wine to it and a whole lot of funk. The barrel aged Daydream was something special too with vanilla and bacon, strong and sweet.

And of course my first beer by The Kernel was enlightening, one of the most balanced beers I’ve had, so mellow but so tasty at the same time. An incident which motivated me to visit them in London.

Yellow Belly Tasting Singapore

And the big one, Yellow Belly? How was it? It was genuinely life changing. It’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had, if you melted a snickers and put it in a bottle with some really awesome kind of imperial stout – you’d get Yellow Belly.

A sweet medicinal nose, in the mouth it’s sweet, sour, smooth, velvety, cheap milk chocolate like kinder eggs, dark roasted, almost burnt peanuts, in caramel topped with whipped cream. Yah don’t lose focus, a beer tasted like all of that. Seriously.



Yellow Belly, I love you, I need more.

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On Sky News Again – Ashley Madison Hack & Leak

So I was on Sky News again recently, this time it was about the Ashley Madison hack and impending leak (which in the end, turned into a real actual leak).

For those that don’t know, Ashley Madison is a website that allows people to organise liaisons in extra-marital affairs. Yah, a cheating website. Apparently they were hacked on moral grounds, to expose all the dirty cheating scumbags.

But in the end it exposed more on Ashley Madison’s slightly dubious business practises (very few female members, most female member profiles were fake and ‘seeded’ by them and a bunch of other shady stuff).

Ashley Madison Hack

I was with some power FBI dude on prime time around 7.30pm in the UK, which was a very odd time in KL haha, 2.30am or something.

So yeah, here’s the video.

Strangely I didn’t cover this hack on Darknet, must have been something more interesting going on 😉


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Learnings From Scrum & Scrum Master Certification in Malaysia (PSM)

So Scrum, for those that don’t know:

Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development methodology for managing product development.

It’s an alternative model to the old waterfall style project development and traditional heavy methodologies like ITIL, PMP, Prince2 etc. It works extremely well for complex projects with changing requirements, hence the agile label.

Scrum Overview

It challenges the traditional sequential assumptions made in waterfall and constantly readjusts, leading to more accurate spec delivery, happier developers, happier stakeholders and so on. Scrum adopts an empirical approach, accepting the problem cannot be fully understood from the beginning and that there will be requirements churn (people changing their minds). So it focuses on maximising team productivity and the amount of value development can bring to the business.

To understand the terminology a little, here are the roles, artifacts and events involved in Scrum.


These are the 3 core roles in scrum, committed to the framework and delivery of work using Scrum methodology. Scrum itself does not define any further team roles than those below.

  • Product Owner: Represents the stakeholders and is the voice of the customer (accountable for ensuring that the team delivers value to the business).
  • Development Team: Responsible for delivering potentially shippable increments of product at the end of each sprint (the sprint goal).
  • Scrum Master: Facilitates scrum, accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the product goals and deliverables.


Tangible artifacts, basically things created by humans as a part of the Scrum process.

  • Product Backlog: Comprises an ordered list of requirements that a scrum team maintains for a product.
  • Sprint Backlog: The list of work the development team must address during the next sprint.
  • Product Increment: The sum of all the product backlog items completed during a sprint and all previous sprints.


There are the main events in Scrum, there are some other additional ones that are optional (Backlog refinment, scrum of scrums etc).

  • Sprint: The basic unit of development in scrum. The sprint is a timeboxed effort; that is, it is restricted to a specific duration (max 1 month)
  • Sprint Planning: Select what work is to be done, prepare the Spring Backlog
  • Daily Scrum: What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? Do I have any blockers/impediments?
  • Sprint Review: Reviews the work that was completed and the planned work that was not completed (Review of the WORK done in the sprint)
  • Sprint Retrospective: Reflects on the past sprint & Identifies and agrees continuous process improvement actions (Review of the Sprint itself and the PROCESS)

Some Learnings

So at Mindvalley, we’ve been running Scrum for about 2 years or so, in various iterations (as per the Scrum philosophy, with the Sprint Retrospective you adapt and improve the process as well as the execution of work).

We started off with no real system at all, so from scratch. People were just approaching developers directly and asking for stuff, developers were kind of prioritising based on their limited perspective of the company and doing items according to that. So there was no real tracking or accountability, no one was in charge of any of the platforms and driving value creation.

Developers were frustrated, unhappy, stressed, overworked in some cases and under-worked in others (both which makes for unhappy devs) because they had to manage requirements churn themselves, incomplete specs, testing, UAT, deployment, bug fixing and so on.

Project managers were ill-equipped to deal with the situation too, when they were used they weren’t really project managers and just annoyed the developers constantly asking for updates on progress without really helping with the tactical decisions and execution.

So we slowly started adopting Scrum, pretty much organically until it became obvious it was working for us and we started pushing to implement it more strictly, create the proper artifacts, cadence of accountability and roles to facilitate the Scrum model.

Mindvalley Tech Team

From our experience:

  • 1 week sprints are too short, it feels like robotic factory work churning small parts out so fast, with the planning + reviews if there are any holidays or sick people, barely anything gets done
  • 3 week sprints were too long, it felt like you weren’t sure if you were on the right track still, it was hard to estimate the volume of work for 3 weeks, and stakeholders got antsy waiting so long to add stuff to the next sprint.
  • You really need to empower the PO to value rank the Product Backlog and be the final decision maker, if not the whole process will break down.
  • Scrum Masters main role is as a Scrum coach, their primary goal is to make themselves irrelevant and have the PO + Developers run the whole thing themselves.
  • I love the fact no one really has to manage people any more (in terms of execution, of course there is still people stuff like performance, motivation, mentoring etc), the process manages the people, we manage the process.
  • The more technical solutions + process smoothers you can put in place to remove frction the better (CI services, auto deployment, having a dedicated release manager, standardized git branching workflow)
  • Scrum is definitely NOT suitable for non-technical teams/departments but everyone, in every role can definitely take parts of it and learn something from Scrum.
  • Language alignment is VERY important, make sure everyone involves understands the same things from the same words/terms.
  • Developers will naturally enjoy Scrum as it abstracts them from the noise/chaos of the business and allows them to focus on doing excellent work, and to own the results.
  • QA/Testing/Acceptance can easily become a bottleneck when everything else is running like clockwork.
  • You need the highest level stakeholders (CEO, VPs etc) to buy in so they understand when the Sprint has started they can’t just add items because they feel they are URGENT and they have highest political power.
  • Definition of Done is IMPORTANT.
  • And ultimately, if you do Scrum right – it will not be enough. You will need to do Scrum ++, for us at the moment we’re trying Scrum + 4DX.

All in all it’s going great now we have it all nailed down, we’ve had to adjust some things, like the joint retrospective was taking too long with 30+ people involved, so we’ve broken it down by team and just turn through summaries of each team (Assembled by the Scrum Master) together after every sprint. And for us, mostly our PO is also our SM – not recommended but it’s going ok for us.

  1. Stakeholders are happy because we do high quality work, regularly delivered production ready software, we have a set cadence of accountability – they know every 2 weeks we deliver the highest value items to the business.
  2. Developers are happy because they don’t get interrupted by irrelevant inequities, once they choose their stories in the Sprint Backlog they can concentrate on doing the best possible work without the worry of changing goal posts, they don’t have to collect specs from stakeholders themselves, they get to own the process and the work done.
  3. POs/SM/ex-PMs are happy because they don’t really have to manage people any more, they can focus on delivering maximum value to the business, coaching developers, maximising productivity and other more relevant tasks.

So yah overall thumbs up for Scrum for complex software development.

Scrum Master Training

So a couple of us decided to take the Scrum Master Certification in Malaysia as it’s available with good quality trainers, and you just take the exam online. Plus we’d been running Scrum for a while and felt fairly competent (we’d read a lot, talked to other people etc) and were following the methodology fairly strictly.

But we wanted to validate that, plus ask some hard questions about Scrum ++ which we were evolving into. Plus other stuff like how to keep developers motivated during multiple maintenance sprints (not really related to Scrum…but hey, why not ask).

From the official

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) course is a 2-day course that covers the principles and (empirical) process theory underpinning the mechanics, rules and roles of the Scrum framework. Advanced tools for servant-leadership are provided to increase a Scrum Master’s effectiveness. These tools relate to behavioural shifts, working with people and teams, coaching and facilitation techniques, and addressing the organization.

We found the training here from Iverson, it’s a 2 day course and in a way certifies you as both CSM (which only requires attendance) and PSM1 (which requires the exam).

Iversion – Training – Other Courses (Under Training and Education – Agile).

Honestly it was a lot less about the Scrum framework than I expected, but after thinking about it – that makes way more sense. You can learn how to execute Scrum fairly easily by reading the guide. What’s harder is fully understanding the concepts behind it, the mentality required to run Scrum effectively and the psychology of the people involved.

So a lot of it was about coaching, about dealing with different personality types, getting buy-in, dealing with conflicts and so on – obviously doing all those within the Scrum philosophy. The training was experiential, so exercises, discussions and thinking about a lot of tough questions.

We learned about things like the Schneider Culture Model for example.

Schneider Culture Model

Which really makes you drill down in your own mind about what is right and wrong in Scrum, what can disrupt Scrum, how to elevate your team to become more mature and effective and a lot of other deep questions.

It was very good, it validated how we use Scrum and our understanding of the Scrum philosophy was pretty strong and also raised some things we can do better (WIP limits, Definition of Done, levelling up Product Owners etc).

It definitely helped me understand more about the role of a Scrum Master as a servant leader, an enabler, facilitator and mentor.

As you can see from the recommended reading list for a Professional Scrum Master, it covers the areas cross-functional self-organizing teams together with coaching & facilitation.

Professional Scrum Master Subject Areas

Our excellent trainer was Joshua Partogi who you can find on Twitter here @jpartogi, he can also do Scrum consultancy for your company if you’re struggling with implementation or have more questions than the course can cater for. He knows his shit.

As a note, this is not an advertorial, endorsement or sponsored exchange, we paid full price for the course.

Scrum Master Certification in Malaysia

So after taking the course (quite a while after) I remembered I should take the exam haha. Even if you haven’t done the training, or just want to check your own level of knowledge on the Scrum framework – you can take the Scrum Open Assessment here: Open Assessment

Just before I wanted to take the exam…I took this…and failed it haha. Pass requirement is 85% and I got 82% – oops. But I took the real exam anyway.

I was kinda scared by the really vague open ended questions, very philosophy based. Those with tangible answers were easy, but at least 30% of the questions were really tough. The actual PSM 1 exam is 80 questions in 60 minutes – so not a whole lot of time to ponder, less than 1 minute for each question.

Professional Scum Master Exam

In the end I passed though, thankfully haha – I got 74 out of 80 or 92.5% with my weakest area being the vague question areas (Coaching & Facilitation).

So yah, I’m a certified Professional Scrum Master now haha (PSM 1).


Scrum is great, scrum is good – but don’t be a Scrum zealot. It’s not the answer to everything.

I’d say to get the most out of it, just get your team together, talk about the core concepts behind Scrum, the problems it solves then give everyone some time to read about it (perhaps 1 week), to read and digest the Scrum Guide and Google any questions they have.

Then come together and get started, plan how to implement, who is going to play which roles and when will your Sprint Planning meeting be.

I think going to the training should come after you’ve been running Scrum for a while and you have more relevant in depth questions, you’ll get much more out of it and honestly you should be able to get Scrum up and running with the guide.

Use the training to fine tune how you are doing it and use the exam to validate your knowledge and understanding of Scrum. All in all I think they are both worth it, now we are considering the next level Product Owner training haha (PSPO).

If you’re looking for Agile/Scrum support in Malaysia I suggest this Facebook group: Agile Malaysia

Wow, this quick post about doing the Scrum cert turned into a 2000+ word essay haha, hope it’s useful to someone!

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A New Watch (After SO Many Years) – Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual SNP023P1

So watches and photography, an intersection of 2 things I love – and 2 things I haven’t paid attention to for a long time.

In 2006 I started my watch journey with a pair of automatic glass backed Seiko 5 watches (his and hers, aww so sweet) and not long after that in 2007 I went for a really gorgeous Seiko SNFK11K – also automatic.

I posted about that one – Seiko Resistance IS Futile – SNFK11K Automatic Watch.

And well, that’s kinda where I ended it with watches for a while – I had a couple of G-shocks (GDF100-1A) and I got a watch for my wedding (Tissot PRC100 Titanium) which I don’t wear that much.

Which is sad, because there are a couple of Tissot watches on my wish list (I LOVE the Visodate).

So ya sometime last year, I started a watch wish list ranging from “Ok I can afford that this decade” to “OMG I need to sell a kidney” kinda price.

The top watch on the list was the Seiko Sportura Perpetual Kinetic SNP055P2, which after some research I decided was ever so slightly too casual and just by chance I found Seiko has almost the same watch in their ‘Premier’ collection which comes with a fancy clippy watch strap (security clasp like metal bracelets) the SNP023P1.

My birthday was coming up, and I decided to get it for myself as basically since Liam has been born I haven’t really bought myself anything worth mentioning.

I was torn between two models initially, basically the same watch with a black face or a white face.

After some reading (the general consensus is white face is more versatile, casual and also smart) and I was just drawn more to the white face with the brown strap as that’s the look that attracted me to the SNP055P2 in the first place (brown strap black face).

I then faced the problem of finding one, as it’s no longer in production and most people don’t keep enough stock to have this kind of watch on hand – but I did manage to find it on here. So boom, here it is!

Seiko SNP023P1

The reason I was drawn to this series in the first place is my 2 main problems with Analogue watches, automatic watches stop working if you don’t wear them for a little while (most have a reserve for less than a week) and adjusting the date (February every year, leap years etc) which is really annoying and slow on most watches and if the date is wrong I can’t wear I don’t wear them – which is silly I know.

With 232 parts, which is almost the same number as other high-class mechanical chronograph watches, and the world’s smallest ultra-sonic motor, just 0.4 mm thick, the Kinetic Perpetual caliber sets a new standard in Perpetual Calendar watches. The Kinetic movement operates at 100,000 rpm – quite crazy!

Seiko SNP023P1

The Seiko Kinetic Perpetual series solves all of the problems I have with analogue watches, the date will be correct until the year 2100 and fully charged the watch can store enough power to know what time/date it is for 4 years – which is a long time. No battery changes too.

I just love the technology of it too, if you don’t wear it for 24 hours the hands stop moving, but the date still keeps moving – so when you pick it up the date is right and the watch hands move around until they reach back the correct time. It’s so cool to see it do that!

Seiko SNP023P1

It has all the stuff I want too (bar day of the week) – day, month, leapyear and a bonus 24 hour time dial (in case I forgot if it’s day or night).

Here’s the fancy security clasp strap, love it! No more buckling and unbuckling (that kinda annoyed me the last time I went for a leather strap haha). I prefer the look of leather straps, but the utility of metal bracelets – this is a nice combination of the two.

Seiko SNP023P1

And yah, it’s a good looking strap too!

Seiko SNP023P1

The month and leap year indicator is combined into one dial, the pointed hand shows the current month and the rounded end shows the leap year (status) with right now being +3 that means next year (2016) is a leap year.

Seiko SNP023P1

This remarkable calendar is also governed by a photo sensor, which recognizes a certain mark on each gear and judges, and corrects the date, day, month and year, including February of leap years.

Seriously the tech inside this watch, is truly impressive.

I am happy! Fairly happy with the pictures too, forgot how hard watch photography was (all those reflective surfaces!).

Happy birthday to me!

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