Before I depart for the bustle of Shanghai next week, as a Good Beer Blogger, I felt it best to offer a short review of some of the best watering holes in Singapore for beer drinkers. While there remain only two brewpubs in the city, the variety of brews available for sale has improved dramatically over the past five years and there are a more than a few spots dedicated to serving fine brews for connoisseurs. In part, this has been possible due to the liberalization of trade laws, which, for example, allowed some of Australia's finer brews to enter the city-state. Moreover, as has become the case elsewhere, there has been a growing realization that there is more to beer than the international lager. For the first in this trilogy, I welcome the introduction of Belgian-style brasseries to Singapore.
Shortly after I first arrived here, I was excited to see an in-cinema advertisement for a Belgian-themed pub called Mad Monk's. I had spent the previous 18 months in the dry country of Kuwait and the idea of tasty Trappist ales or lambic sent me into a near ecstatic state. But when I and asked what Belgian beers they had. The reply was "Stella Artois." Well, things here have improved greatly since 2000 - and not just because of the widespread availability of Hoegaarden. Indeed, unique Belgian beer can increasingly be found elsewhere in the city and two bars now specialize in the brews of that European state: Oosters at Far East Square and the more secluded L'Estaminet at Greenwood Avenue - both of which opened last year. Oosters is a near perfect Belgian-style brasserie with more than thirty beers in stock, five on tap and an authentic Belgian menu, like one kilogram servings of mussels and triple-dipped fries served with mayonnaise. Essentially, it's a little piece of heaven. The bar's website notes that it has three beers on tap, although this should be updated as it has recently added the exceptionally tasty Malonne Brune. Check out the menu by clicking on the thumbnail at the left. Oosters is located near the financial center of the city, and on weekdays is frequented by generally well-heeled sorts.
But a more laid back option is available. L'Estaminet is hidden in the suburbs of Hillcrest Park, near several of the other Les Amis Group of restaurants. While this spot doesn't have as ample a selection of brews as Oosters, especially when it comes to draught, it is the only spot I have discovered in Singapore that offers Canadian brews. And thank heavens they aren't Molsons or Labbats! Indeed, the only Canadian brews that I have ever found served at a Singapore bar are, impressively, made by Unibroue of Quebec. These are included in the menu, click left, as Belgian beers...and indeed they are Belgian-style brews. It does not offer Belgian style foods, although it is attached to a decent wood-fired pizza joint called Pepperoni. Still, like Oosters, L'Estaminet is heavy on presentation. Both of the pubs have the array of glasses suited for each beer. The Belgians tend distinctive glass shapes for each beer in order to improve the nose and flavor - though it likely relates more to tradition and marketing than science.
My explorations of the bars of Singapore continues next with a comparison of Brauhaus vs Ice Cold Beer.