What do you get when you put an international award-winning Australian brewery together with our very own world's highest urban craft breqery? Only damned good craft beer, one can expect. This August, Two Birds Brewing's Brewmaster Jayne Lewis will be coming down to our little red dot to brew an exceptional Golden Ale with LeVel 33's Brewmaster Gabriel Garcia. Their Golden Ale is made using Tasmanian hops and will be available for a limited time only, with the first tank being tapped on Thursday, the 2nd of August.
From left: Danielle Allen w/ Brewmaster Jayne Lewis. Photo: Tim Grey
We sit down with Gabriel (GG) and Jayne (JL) to get their perspective on the past, present, and future of the craft brew scene and their collaboration:
Please tell us more about your Golden Ale, its origins and the idea that started it all.
GG: LeVeL33 had the idea of collaborating with a brewery as we had not explored such a partnership before. When Two Birds Brewing was suggested as a potential partner, we saw a lot in common. The brewing style matched well and after tasting a few beers, we agreed on the Golden Ale.
JL: Using the Australian hops is unique to this beer and a great crossover between both our recipes.
There seems to be a rising trend in craft beer pairings in the Singapore food scene – what’s your take on pairing craft beer with food and the perceptions of it?
JL: For Australia, I’m a massive fan of pairing beer with food. I honestly believe there is a beer out there that will pair better with a dish than a wine because there is such a wider range of flavours out there. I pretty much think that there is a perfect beer for any plate of food you put in front of somebody. I think it’s a massive untapped opportunity in that sphere.
GG: Our combination of beers and dining menu that complements our beers is what makes LeVeL33 so unique. We are one of the firsts to take both our beer and food seriously and its very interesting to pair the beers with what the kitchen might be working on.
Are there any particular local flavours that you feel craft beer would pair well with?
JL: Anything in the spicy end of the spectrum will go well with India Pale Ale.
Are there any particular future craft beer trends that you can foresee?
JL: I guess in Australia, it’s very much about beers that are hoppy – so IPAs, Pale Ale. In Singapore it’s about the flavours – I know there is a brewer interested in sour beers. But ultimately, beers are heavily influenced by the climate. The kind of beers, for instance you want to drink in the Singapore climate is quite different to what you will drink in other parts of the world. So the climate has a massive impact on the trend as well.
What’s the biggest challenge you currently face in the industry?
JL: Australia – for us we are in a massive period of growth and we are seeing a lot of entrants to the craft beer scene and we are seeing an explosion in the number of breweries opening and that’s challenging as its growing faster than the market size.
GG: In Singapore, is rental and ensuring that it makes sense business wise and that you are maximising your space and output. The second challenge is the talent – for brewing you need the right person who is passionate about brewing or willing to learn and be committed long-terme. The constant job hopping does not help and when we spend six months training someone only for them to quit, that has a big impact.
There’s a misconceived perception that beer is primarily a drink loved by men. Understandably, this must have led to some obstacles in your craft. Do you have any particular interesting stories to tell relevant to this challenge?
JL: I always find the perception that beer is mostly enjoyed by men quite interesting. I think part of travelling really opens up your eyes. I remember being in Belgium in a little square having breakfast and there was a bunch of women all just sitting around and having a pint of Hoegaarden with their breakfast. Also women of a certain age, older women, enjoying their beer. It’s not a thing and I wonder over the years what happened in some of our culture where it became that beer is a manly drink. Women were the first brewers – it was their task, they would make beers as it was part of the food source and effectively safer than drinking water and during the industrial revolution I think we lost a lot that and we lost the culture of women drinking beer. A lot also has to do with advertising. In Australia, the advertising has pushed it in that direction and I think we are slowly taking it back again.
I mean I have always worked at beer festivals and when you pour a beer for someone, they’d be shocked, A that you had made and, B that it was any good!
GG: In Singapore, we have a lot of female drinkers and I frankly don’t see any difference between men and women beer drinkers. At LeVeL33 we do see women coming in, sitting by themselves and enjoying a pint of beer.
I’ve done a bit of digging into Two Birds Brewing’s history and noticed that the idea for the brewery was born during a trip to America’s West Coast. What did you experience there that led to this stroke of inspiration?
JL: It was probably more about the fact that I was holidaying there with Danielle with both our husbands. My husband and I were actually eloping for that particular trip to Vegas and it was really just hanging out and chatting and we realized that Danny and I had really complimentary skill sets. She always wanted to run her own business and I was at a stage where I wanted to branch out but I was missing that entire business side. We realized that we were heading in the same direction and we could do this together. We also enjoyed doing the same things – we ate and drank and went to great restaurants and realized we had a lot in common!
Are there any future plans for Two Birds Brewing in Singapore?
JL: We are exploring exporting so we are talking to distributors here. See how that all goes!
Are there any plans to expand LeVel33’s beer selection in the future?
GG: We have capacity constraints at LeVeL33 but despite this we have successfully expanded our selection with our Seasonal Brews – for instance our Champagne Beer and the Quinoa Beer. In future, we are thinking about bottling in limited batches for sale at LeVeL33 and even at other location outside of LeVeL33, if we find the right retail partner who has the same commitment to the art of brewg and believe in our philosophy.
What is the local Singaporean taste for beer like in your opinion (what do we prefer etc.), after working in this country for the past few years?
GG: Lighter and easy-drinking beers. Not too bitter and not very high alcohol content.