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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Crafting beer niches

Craft beer is the focus of Beerfest Asia 2011, with a new conference, awards and 100 new beers in the offing
The Business Times - June 10, 2011
By: Christopher Lim
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Crafting beer niches 'Events such as Beerfest Asia allow craft and boutique beers to be showcased in Singapore'rn- Gerry Yeo (above), a partner at Beer Importers & Distributors here. His Australian partner Franck Berges, who has been conferred a beer knighthood, will host

MICROBREWERIES aren't new here and neither are the craft beers they produce, but with the tenth microbrewery recently opened in Singapore, the organisers of Beerfest Asia 2011 are betting that interest in craft beers is reaching critical mass.

That's why the third iteration of the festival will kick off on Thursday with a new Asia Brewers' Conference aimed squarely at craft brewing and featuring 14 speakers from seven countries.

'Asian beer tastes are mirroring the growth of craft beers in Europe and the United States,' says Matt Bennett, one of the festival organisers, citing Euromonitor data that shows Asia accounting for 31.7 per cent of world consumption in 2009 - more than Europe.

Mr Bennett wants to let everyone know that 'a gentle craft beer revolution' is under way, and the annual conference will bring brewers, distributors, marketers and investors together to discuss how to make the most of the situation.

The festival will boast 10 per cent more beers this year, and a hundred of the more than 320 beers at the show will be new to Singapore. Thirty-seven breweries from 47 countries will be represented.

Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APBS) will showcase 29 beers from its partners and subsidiaries in 18 countries, some of which are quite exotic, such as Sengur from Mongolia and Biere Larue from Vietnam.

Five of APBS's beers will be from its microbrewery, Archipelago, which will be showing off its limited-edition Hickory Smoked IPA that was brewed to coincide with Beerfest, along with its four regular brews.

Hoshang Mehta, who heads Archipelago, welcomes the new conference component for the international exposure it can grant to the local beer scene. 'There have hardly been any organised platforms in Singapore for brewing industry professionals to get together to discuss their art, network among themselves and engage in meaningful debates about our businesses,' says Mr Mehta.

For Gerry Yeo, a partner at Beer Importers & Distributors here, the highlight of the conference will be the Belgium Beer Experience, which will be presented by Mr Yeo's Australian partner Franck Berges, who has been conferred a beer knighthood by the Belgian brewers' guild.

'Events such as Beerfest Asia allow craft and boutique beers to be showcased in Singapore, and help importers and distributors of such beers to offer sampling opportunities to both trade and beer drinkers,' says Mr Yeo, who has participated in previous Beerfests.

The Asia Beer Awards, which debuted last year, will also return, along with a Beer Awards Dinner on June 16 that will feature the cream of this year's crop.

Beerfest Asia 2011 runs from June 16 to 19 at the Marina Promenade; tickets are $20 to $37 from Sistic, inclusive of two beers. The Asia Brewers' Conference and Beer Awards dinner happen on June 16 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront; tickets are $150 and $100, respectively, or $200 together, from Sistic. For more information, visit www.beerfestasia.com

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