By Brian Spencer
I’ll give you 40+ reasons why JiBiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar should anchor any Singapore booze crawl.
Located at 313@Somerset mall’s open-air Discovery Walk, sandwiched between the Charlie Brown Café and Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant, JiBiru, as its name suggests, deals primarily in imported bottles and kegs from a fistful of Japan microbreweries. Here you’ll find more than 40 labels to choose from, including seven bottles from Ise Kadoya Brewery, six from Kinshachi, and at least seven from (my personal favorite) Shiga Kogen Brewery. JiBiru is also Singapore’s flagship destination for Kiuchi Brewery’s line of Hitachino Nest beers, with 12 available by the bottle and two–usually the White Ale and Pale Ale–poured on draft alongside Sapporo and the occasional guest tap for Sankt Gallen Brewery.
The handpicked selection of Japanese microbrews is reason alone to favor JiBiru–near the beginning of any conversation concerning Singapore’s best beer bars–but the scope of craft beers here isn’t limited to Japan. The crowd-pleasing Tropical Wheat – Mango & Orange from local microbrewery Jungle Beer is also on tap, as are, infrequently, house beers and seasonals from Singapore’s craft beer stalwart Brewerkz.
Bottles from such international microbreweries as Rogue Ales, BrewDog, Chimay Brewery, and Duvel Moortgat Brewery start at S$13, though more interesting are the two beers from Owa Brewery, a microbrewery based in Herzele, Belgium, run by Yokohama-born born brewmaster Leo Imai. These were both on tap for a short time following Imai’s appearance at a “Meet the Brewer” event, and though I can’t vouch for the bottled versions, both were delicious on draft, particularly the Yuro-Owa, a roasty German-style dunkel that could serve as a morning coffee substitute for alcoholics.
JiBiru’s small kitchen cranks out respectable Japanese-style bar snacks and light bites that start at S$3.50 for a bowl of edamame; try the tofu salad, mixed vegetable tempura, and pork belly & onion yakitori.
There’s little of note to JiBiru’s design and decor. Sixteen stained wood tables, most with cushioned bench seating; I’d be dipping my toes in unnecessary hyperbole if I said anything else, other than, perhaps, that there’s a flat-screen television, usually tuned to soccer matches, mounted from the ceiling. No matter–the natural lighting until sundown, mall’s spinning industrial-size fans, sound of trickling water from a nearby fountain, and the constant parade of human eye candy down the courtyard’s central walkway make for a very pleasant setting.
Best get your boozing started early at JiBiru: Tall glasses of Hitachino Nest White and Pale ales are S$10 until 6pm and S$13.50 through 8pm, while 425ml pours of Jungle Beer’s Mango & Orange run S$9.50 and S$11.50 at the same times; a few bucks are knocked off some bottles until 8pm. You’re on your own after eight, big spender.
JiBiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar, 313 Orchard Rd., #01-26 (at 313@Somerset), +65 6732-6884. Sunday – Thursday 11:30am – 11pm, Friday – Saturday 11:30am – 1am.
More Places I Like to Drink in Singapore:
+ Old Empire (A non-descript pub offering Singapore’s best selection of craft beers)
+ Mohican Pub (An Indian-themed Indian bar in Little India — but not that kind of Indian)
+ Brewerkz Taphouse (The latest showcase for the stalwart Singaporean microbrewery)