17 September 2006

Beyond Tigers

Off on my travels again, and I paid a flying visit to Singapore, calling in at two of its microbreweries. Brewerkz is a monument to the faux industrial school of brewpub architecture: a huge converted riverfront warehouse. It does a sizeable range of beers across several genres.

On the lighter side, their Golden Ale is a typical grainy microbrewed lager, slightly cloudy and quite light. Unusually, also, they do a Fruit Brew which was made of strawberries on my visit but which apparently changes. I found it quite bland: too warm and with a touch of ale hops neither of which should feature in this kind of beer. The strawberries were barely identifiable.

Moving on, they do two IPAs: the plain one being very similar to the mainstream English IPA and the Xtra IPA having a subtle malty foretaste followed by a serious hops afterburn. It's 7.2% and tastes it.

Other dark beers include a bock lager, which is cloudy rather than properly dark and carries a delicious smoke and burnt caramel flavour which reaches parts of the nose other beers don't reach. They also do Hopback, which claims to be in the real ale style, and is indeed complex and bitter like the best of them, but is a tad too fizzy to be counted with proper real ales, in my opinion. There's also the inevitable stout, this one being made with oatmeal. It has a strong roasted grain flavour and is very heavy and satisfying.

All in all, the range and style of Brewerkz makes it one of my favourite brewpubs and definitely worth a visit should you need something other than Tiger or a gin sling.

Less worth the effort is the Singapore branch of the Paulaner brewhouse chain. I had to cross a ring of steel put up for the World Bank conference to get to it and I don't think it was worth it. They produce a helles and a dunkel, both rather insipid and neither as good as the mass-produced mainstream Paulaner. This is the first of this chain I've been to and I suspect it is just pointless big-brewery gimmickry of the highest order. You don't have to be independent to make great beer on the premises, but it helps.

06 September 2006

Too damn subtle

At the back of my cupboard since I got back from France has been a bottle of Doreleï, an amber ale from Fischer of Alsace. Part of the reason I haven't opened it is the stunning art nouveau bottle. This evening I succumbed.

The beer advertises itself as being spiced with vegetable extracts, but really there was very little sign of that. In the absence of instructions I drank it at a little below room temperature and found it so lacking in taste I wondered if it's meant to be served cold where flavour is less of an issue. True, it has a faint hint of gingerbread in the foretaste and the characteristic Fischer dryness at the very end, but it's too little too late.

Probably the only beer in the world better in the bottle than out.