Chosen for their setting, singularity, and/or ace craft beer program, we go properly listicle with a rundown of five essential Singapore craft beer experiences, including a buzzy, boozy gathering place hidden among hundreds of food stalls in an old Chinatown hawker centre, as well as what is, apparently, “the world’s highest urban craft brewery.”
Serious craft enthusiasts owe a debt of gratitude to the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association, which gave its blessing to beer importers The Drinking Partners to transform the ground floor of its gorgeous Jalan Besar shophouse into a 23-tap bar specializing in fairly rare (at least in this part of the world) European imports. Brouwerij de Molen (Netherlands), Amager Bryghus (Denmark), and Mikkeller (Denmark) are three of the breweries commonly poured here. Line your stomach for a long night of boozing with proper Singaporean-style bar snacks like smoky chicken sliders, prawn paste wings, and shoestring fries with chili crab or ma po. 119 Tyrwhitt Rd; 6341 5967; facebook.com/DruggistsSG
Smith Street Taps
When they opened this now beloved institution in early 2014, local beer celebs Meng Chao and Daniel Goh filled a considerable void that Singapore didn’t even realize existed. This de facto gathering place for the island’s dedicated craft community is hidden on the second floor of the rough-and-tumble Chinatown Centre Complex, where you’ll find claypot rice, mixed satay, chili crab, and countless other Singaporean eats from the more than 200 hawker food stalls. SST sources some of Singapore’s more esoteric imports for its 12 taps—think barrel-aged stouts, lip-puckering sours, and double IPAs, along with local Singapore craft beer from up-and-coming breweries like Brewlander and Little Island Brewing Co.
At the time of publication this craft beer hawker was in the process of expanding to the nearby stall previously occupied by The Good Beer Company, which in late 2017 relocated and rebooted at F&B enclave Savourworld. If you’re only in town for one night, though, spend it at Smith Street Taps. Blk 335, Chinatown Complex Centre, #02-062; 9430 2750; facebook.com/smithstreettaps
JiBiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar
Kiuchi Brewery, Yo-Ho Brewing Co, and Sankt Gallen Brewery are just a few of the Japanese craft breweries spotlighted at this open-air izakaya surreptitiously tucked into the pedestrian-packed 313@Somerset mall courtyard. JiBiru has over the years diversified its draft list to include brews from the UK—specifically those from Fourpure Brewing Co. and BrewDog—though at minimum you’ll usually find at least a few of Kiuchi Brewery’s popular Hitachino Nest beers flowing from the bar’s six taps.
There’s an extensive (and somewhat pricey) bottle list that includes brews from many of Japan’s other top producers, as well, including Beer Travelist favorites Shiga Kogen Beer and Osaka’s excellent Minoh Beer. JiBiru also features what might be the best people-watching location on the island. 313 Orchard Rd, 313@Somerset, #01-26; 6732 6884; facebook.com/JiBiru
Alchemist Beer Lab
Craft purists may scoff at Alchemist Beer Lab’s signature concept, but there’s nothing gimmicky about this upscale spin-off from Little Island Brewing Co. Part of the glitzy South Beach lifestyle complex, Alchemist stuffs eight of its glass tap towers with cocoa nibs, salted plums, pink guava, and other ingredients to freshly infuse LIBC beers—dry-hop style—with enhanced flavor and aroma on their way from keg to glass. Go for the Obama, which sees LIBC’s award-winning Black Magic Dry Irish Stout amplified with marshmallows, vanilla pods, and mint leaves. It’s our favorite of the regulars, even if the name for this ink-black brew is a smidge questionable.
One unfortunate trend, however, is that it always seems like at least one (and oftentimes two) draft beers are kicked and not replaced; hopefully supply soon gets sorted to meet the demand. Aside from the infusions, house wines and non-infused LIBC brews are on tap, too. 26 Beach Rd, #B1-16; 6386 4365; facebook.com/AlchemistBeerLab
If there were such a thing as a Singaporean craft beer bar pageant, surely this sleek sky-high brewpub would be crowned queen. Rows of fermentation tanks and shiny copper kettles anchor the comely contemporary bar indoors, but it’s the outdoor deck for which you should scramble; even on hazy days the panoramic views of Singapore’s rapidly changing cityscape are incredible.
Make advance reservations to secure your spot (minium spend required—super annoying), or get there no later than 6pm for a shot at a walk-in table. World-class setting aside, LeVeL33 earns only passing marks for its seasonals and five year-round beers, the latter of which include a blond lager and IPA. In other words, come for the views and keep your ale (and service) expectations in check—but do come at least once. 8 Marina Blvd, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, #33-01; 6834 3133; level33.com.sg
This article is excerpted from the Beer Travelist Guide to Singapore, released on May 18, 2017. Available as a free eBook, our guide is a treasure map to the Lion City’s fledgling beer scene with tips on the island’s best beer bars, brewpubs, bottle shops, delivery services, and more. As a bonus, the guide includes exclusive discounts to 10 of Singapore’s finest places to enjoy a proper beer–including three featured above. All you have to do is show up and flash the guide. Download the 2017 Beer Travelist Guide to Singapore for free here.
Disclosure: JiBiru and Smith Street Taps are co-sponsors of the aforementioned guide. While that hasn’t influenced their inclusion in this story (or the guide), we believe in transparency and disclosing any potential conflicts of interest.