John Wei of Brewlander & Co.: “Anyone can brew their own beer at home”
Maestro at work
There's no denying that the craft beer culture in Singapore is growing larger by the day. Independent homebrewers have, one by one, set up shop much to our delight — and garnered a steady following through their honest, innovative craft of brewing. What can we say? We appreciate chugging down an ice-cold pint on a hot, sticky day.
With Beerfest Asia 2017 kicking off this week, we sat down with John Wei, award-winning brewmaster at Brewlander & Co. (a gypsy brewery opened alongside media darlings Allan Wu and Daniel Ong, amongst other partners). Wei divulges the secrets behind craft beers, his favourite ales, and his homebrewing masterclass happening at this year's inaugural event.
Craft beers have only recently started gaining traction on our shores. What's the difference between beers and craft beers?
Craft beers is all about the craft, pushing the limits on flavour and creating a different drinking experience. They aren't rushed through the brewhouse, and are packaged fresh when ready. The emphasis is using superior ingredients in generous amounts to create remarkable flavours, instead of making a "generic" beer to suit a price point. I would loosely liken it to buying bread off the shelves, versus buying fresh bread from a bakery.
In your opinion, what are the makings of a good beer?
The golden rule of brewing is to be as clean and sanitary as possible. The next thing I would focus on is fermentation. Yeast makes beer so fermentation will determine if a beer is good or bad. Always use the freshest of ingredients as much as possible.
Which is your all-time favourite beer?
This is a tough one! I'd list Saison Dupont as a favourite because it's such a beautiful and perfectly made beer in every department. I almost wish I was the one who brewed it.
What do you love most about the process of brewing beer?
As a homebrewer, I used to look forward to the weekend because that's when I'll brew. I'd spend the week thinking about and tweaking the recipes I'd want to brew that weekend, and it kept me obsessed. The whole brewing process is very therapeutic for me.
What do you think of the present beer scene in Singapore and where do you think it's headed?
To a certain extent, I see craft beer mirroring the growth in the West. I believe the future looks promising but it will take a lot of hard work for us to get there. It'll definitely be cool for us to band together and collectively drive the growth and awareness of craft beer appreciation in Singapore.
Any tips for people who'd like to brew their own beer at home?
Do it, get your feet wet! There are tons of information readily available for free today, and it's really not difficult to make decent tasting beers at home. I'll be sharing tips and tricks at a workshop at the upcoming Beerfest Asia. Trust me — it's highly addictive, and your friends will be so impressed with you. And it's worth doing for the free beers.
Keen to get started? Get your tickets to Beerfest Asia 2017 here.