Homebrewing has received a welcome endorsement from an unlikely source. In its Sunday editorial, Singapore's state-controlled Straits Times newspaper (reg' req') has praised homebrewing as a hobby - noting that drinking at home may have an added advantage in reducing rates of drunk driving.
There is an old Russian proverb that goes like this: "The church is near, but the road is icy. The bar is far away, but I will walk carefully." The lure of a drink could hardly have been captured more succinctly. The fact that the proverb is cited on the www.homebrew.com.sg website, devoted to beer lovers, makes eminent sense as well. Although roads are not icy in Singapore, and bars are hardly far away, brewing beer at home makes even a careful walk to the pub (and back) unnecessary...The logic behind the editorial is somewhat ludicrous. I've often invited friends over to taste a freshly completed brew, and this always results in an increase in the number of people who are drunkenly commuting from my flat to their respective homes (generally in taxis or on foot). Still, given that less than a year has passed since the legalization of homebrewing, the endorsement from the government controlled English-language broadsheet is welcome - especially as paper's editorial never differs from the official line of the state.
Although beer brewed at home costs substantially less than that in pubs, it is unlikely that price is the main draw. More important is the priceless pleasure of doing something that one enjoys, instead of having it served up by others. Also, home-brewers can choose from a customised range of light and dark beers, ale, stout and lagers. Websites on home-brewing describe methods in details precise enough to make even the uninitiated want to be connoisseurs.
...In this festive season especially, there is a particular reason why having beer at home might be a good idea: It removes the potentially lethal step from drinking to driving. Pubs and other drinking places, of course, will retain their allure for the party-minded, but a bit of in-house drinking is no bad thing.
Initially, I had been concerned that the government may see growing interest in home-brewing as a threat to its lucrative sin taxes. That seems not to be the case. The Straits Times on Friday noted that a modest 400 beer kits had been sold since March, which in volume terms would be of minor significance to tax revenues.
Since laws were relaxed in March allowing people to brew up to 30 litres of beer [Ed: 30 litres! That's only 15 six packs!] at home, a modest but growing group of brewing enthusiasts has emerged in Singapore. Suppliers say more than 400 home-brew kits have been sold so far, but with more retailers marketing the products, the practice looks set to rise in popularity. Distributor of the $128 Mr Beer kit 60-year-old Kaushal K. Srivastava, said he has sold 20 kits to neighbours in Serangoon Gardens since September. By the end of this month, the kits will be available at FairPrice supermarkets.Sinocan's Beer Machine is sold at Carrefour. The Mr Beer system, which does not have as good a reputation as the Beer Machine, is to be sold at the FairPrice chain of supermarkets by the oddly named distributor Raffles Marine Services. For more avid brewers, the best choices remain i-brew, which was established by the gentleman who prompted the relaxation of rules on homebrewing, and Homebrew.com.sg, a brewing club established by leading brewpub Brewerkz, which offer a more complete range of equipment and ingredients. Brewerkz has also set up a homebrewers club, which holds monthly meetings, and would be a great way for any newcomers to the hobby to improve their skills.
Also of note to Good Beer Blog readers, both of Alan's carefully selected Asian correspondents have been selected as finalists in the 2004 Asia Blog Awards. Yellowfrog has been nominated as best China blog and Myrick has been nominated as best Singapore Blog. Interested parties can vote once daily for their favourite slate of Asian blogs here or at the link provided at Simonworld.