As the global craft beer revolution continues unabated, we take a look at where to find great beer in Singapore, both domestic and imported.
I have heard Singapore described as the “easy introduction to Asia”. It’s easy and cheap to get around, contains both colonial and contemporary architecture and history, and exposes the traveller to Chinese, Indian and Malay culture, food and language. It’s a well-functioning Asia in a microcosm and English is the core language. I am lucky to go to the “Lion City” quite regularly with work, so have tapped up the best places to get good beer.
Many expats are drawn from across the world to work in a safe, burgeoning economy with minimal unemployment and impressive growth potential. These expats – and plenty of locals too, by the way – cherish good quality beer. There’s a big home brewing scene partly driven by the price of alcohol. While income taxes are low, alcohol is taxed quite handsomely. As a result, you can expect to pay S$10 (about £5) a pint as a minimum. This means it is even more important to make sure you drink something worth the price.
There’s a certain irony about the term “Happy Hour” when the starting price is £5-a-pint, but the afternoon is often Happy Hour, when beer prices in Singapore will be at their lowest. The price then goes up later in the evening – sometimes more than once – so be careful not to order on the cusp on the changeover to avoid unnecessary debates with waiting staff. Even better, have a liquid lunch rather than a big night out.
Best beer bars in Singapore
While some beers are imported – like pretty much everything in the island state – there is also a good set of locally-brewed beer. The most familiar brand is the lager Tiger Beer, of which you can buy a four-litre tower to economise on a big night, but there are a couple of local brewers of note.
Brewerkz: Set up by a couple of North American beer aficionados, the Brewerkz brew pub is located in a former dock building by the river. It creates a number of different styles in its on-site brewery; including English-style bitters, India Pale Ales, porters and New Zealand-style pale ales.
RedDot BrewHouse: RedDot was Singapore’s first locally-owned microbrewery when it was set up in 1997. It’s just down the water from Brewerkz in Boat Quay and does a great line in Pilsner.
The Pump Room: Clarke Quay is pumping of an evening, and nowhere pumps harder than The Pump Room. Its Golden Ale won a few awards across Asia last year and everything is brewed onsite.
JiBiru: A good place to coincide a shopping trip with some imported beer is JiBiru outside the 313 Somerset shopping centre on the world-famous Orchard Road shopping street. It’s a Japanese themed bar with great value food and a number of Japanese beers, such as Hitachino Nest Beer, and European beer such as Brewdog’s Punk IPA and some Belgian brands.
If you want a quiet night in, Thirsty is an off licence in the shopping centre off Clarke Quay which stocks all manner of bottled beer from around the world, although prices are still pretty high for those of used to protesting a £3 pint. Expect to pay double that, even for a local beer.