If you just can't get enough of Singapore's local suds, you can arrange a tour of Asia Pacific Breweries, home of Tiger Beer. Considering how expensive it is to drink in Singapore, S$18 is a bargain for a brewery tour and the chance to drink your fill of Tiger Beer at the “tasting session” that follows.
The tour begins in a shiny welcome room filled with retro advertisements, collectable bottles, and other memorabilia from the brewery’s 80-year history in Singapore. Here we met our tour guide, who shared some interesting factoids about their products – did you know that during World War II a low-alcohol beer called “Tiger Cub” was produced due to a shortage of ingredients? After a video about the founding of the brewery by colonial British brew-masters striving to formulate the perfect tropical beer, the brewery tour proper begins. This is also where photography stops — the process is a secret!
We followed the tour guide into the secure area, up a staircase, and into a steamy room that smelled like bread – the brewing room. Our group, a sizeable 40some people, paused briefly on the viewing platform to gaze down at the huge vats while the guide gave an introduction to beer’s basic ingredients like hops and barley. Whether it was due to the underwhelming response or the stifling heat, we quickly moved on to the next stop on the tour.
With its endless flow of kegs, cans, and bottles, the automated bottling room was much more impressive. Listening to the guide we picked up facts and figures like, when operating at full volume, the brewery produces 40,000 cans and 32,000 bottles of beer per hour. Of all that beer, half is consumed in Singapore and half is exported around the world. After a brief Q&A session and a few minutes to fantasize about being left alone with all that beer, that concluded the formal part of the tour. Actual brewery tour running time: no more than 15 minutes.
Finally it was time for the real reason any of us signed up for the brewery tour – drinking! The beer sampling takes place in Tiger Tavern, a British-themed pub so polished it should be open every day to everyone, not just tours. We were given 45 minutes to sample all six beers produced on site – Heineken, Guinness, Barron’s, ABC Stout, Anchor and, of course, Tiger. The glasses may be small, but you can drink as much as you want.
Though the Tiger Brewery tour wasn’t as in-depth as I had expected, it was an enjoyable hour. That said, the trip out to western Singapore where the brewery is located takes much longer than that. You need to drink a lot of beer -- or be particularly keen on beer generally -- to make it worth your while.
Brewery tours are available weekdays at 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 16:00, and 17:00. While we were part of a very large group, the guide said 20 participants is typical for afternoon tours and morning groups may be as small as two – but who wants to drink beer at 10am?
Advance bookings are required and can be made by calling 6860 3005 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to bring your passport or other form of ID!
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 3rd December, 2015.