By Brian Spencer
Dempsey Hill is fast becoming Microbrewery Mountain.
Already home to respected Singaporean craft brewers RedDot BrewHouse and (Bangkok import) Tawandang German Microbrewery, this leafy, upscale fooding and boozing oasis added a third feather to its beer cap with the arrival of Brewerkz Taphouse in July 2013. That now makes Dempsey Hill the most convenient location in Singapore to get an easy (and generally tasty) crash course on the local craft-beer scene — as ever, just don’t forget your credit card.
Co-founded in 1997 by Daniel Flores and Devin Otto Kimble, Brewerkz pours the widest selection of its signature and seasonal beers at its flagship Riverside Point and Indoor Stadium locations. The latter I’ve not yet visited, while the former’s somewhat unfortunate locale in Singapore’s touristy zone, paired with its bleh bistro ambience, means I don’t exactly go out of my way to get there. I do submit, however, that Brewerkz Riverside Point offers nice views of garish Clarke Quay from a huge outdoor seating area on the Singapore River.
I’m quite fond of Brewerkz beer, however; big bottles of seasonals and a few signatures, courtesy of the island’s trusty monkey runner, are usually chilling in my fridge. At the Taphouse, finally, there’s now somewhere other than my couch or rooftop deck to sip these fine beers in complete comfort.
Occupying a prime corner directly opposite Tawandang — and just a short walk up the hill from RedDot BrewHouse — Taphouse is a partially open-air, very clean-cut take on the American-style, craft-cum-sports beer bar. Think de rigueur, arguably cliche design notes like rough-hewn wooden appointments, exposed stone walls, and mounted flat-screen televisions tuned to soccer matches.
It’s a pleasing, if not predictable aesthetic indoors, though outside you’ll find a cozy outdoor patio cooled by oscillating fans and, during the evening, lit by pretty multi-colored string lights — lovely spot to sip beers while the sun goes down, and the retractable awning ensures you’ll stay dry on rainy days.
There are currently three taps alloted to signature Brewerkz beers — Golden Ale, Pilsner, and India Pale Ale look like mainstays — and three for seasonals like the rich, roasty Black Pig or mildly hoppy Honey Apricot Ale, made with Oregon apricots and Thai wildflower honey. You’ll also find a long list of mostly pricey bottles that includes a few brews from Singaporean microbrewery Jungle Beer (try the Kiasu Stout or Porter), as well as takeaway bottles of all currently available Brewerkz beers.
Like at the flagship bars Brewerkz Taphouse employs a timed pricing tier, with the cheapest prices before 3pm and the most expensive after 6pm, when signatures run $13 SGD for a proper 17-ounce pint and seasonals a buck more; they’re about half that price before 3pm. It’s not cheap, but sadly these prices aren’t unreasonable for quality craft beers in Singapore. The running “Beer of the Week” deal is a good one — $3 SGD off pints of a select beer every week after 6pm, $2 SGD before then — and samplers of any four beers are $14 SGD.
And yes, of course, there is a food menu, since to not offer one would be considered heretical in Singapore. It’s fairly standard, straightforward American bistro fare; pizzas aren’t half bad.
I’d like to see the brewery’s Hopback Ale and Oatmeal Stout swapped into the signature taps every now and again — for now, get your fix of Oatmeal Stout on draft down the hill at RedDot — and I do wish there was space for a guest tap or two, like at Riverside Point. These are soft grumbles, however, about an otherwise successful and much-needed third Brewerkz showcase venue, particularly given the lack of quality tap-centric Singapore beer bars.
High five, Brewerkz.
Brewerkz Taphouse is located at 18E Dempsey Hill, +65 6438 2311. Monday – Thursday 5pm – midnight, Friday and Saturday 12pm – 1am, Sunday 12pm – midnight.
More Places I Like to Drink in Singapore:
+ Old Empire (A non-descript pub offering Singapore’s best selection of craft beers)
+ JiBiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar (Japanese microbrews served in an open-air courtyard)
+ Mohican Pub (An Indian-themed Indian bar in Little India — but not that kind of Indian)