Introducing Dr James Grieve and the Singapore Homebrew Club

Next, we would like to introduce Dr James Grieve, a maker from an interesting hobby group, The Singapore Homebrew Club. At the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, James intends to share with visitors an overview of the homebrewing experience here in Singapore, the challenges faced and the technological solutions that members of the group came up with to overcome those challenges.

Dr James Grieve. The Singapore Homebrew Club. The Brew

James is a Scientist at the Centre for Quantum Technologies. He shared that at work, he mixes high powered laser systems with single-photon counting experiments. After work, he messes up his apartment brewing beer and wine, as well as playing with more unusual fermentations like kefir, kombucha and yoghurt cultures. He joined the Singapore Homebrew Club sometime in 2013.

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A “brew in a bag” (BIAB) mashing set-up, with a bimetalic dial thermometer used to check the mash temperature. The BIAB technique is a convenient way for homebrewers to get started with mashing as it needs minimal equipment — just a large pot, a decent hob or wok burner and a suitable mesh bag.

James shared that the Singapore Homebrew Club is a relatively young club which was formed in September 2012 by Mr Neo Say Wee (man behind www.homebrew.com.sg). It is a club where like-minded brewers gather to share their successes and improve their art. The club’s original handful of members have now grown to more than 80, with their regular monthly meet-ups swelling to over 40 participants. During the gatherings, the members will bring along their brew (prepared earlier according to the theme of that gathering). They will conduct a blind tasting of these beers and review them through written feedback. Each month, there will be around 8 – 12 types of brew prepared by the members who attend the session. James also shared that the members of the club are welcoming and have not turned away any brew before. So, if you are a keen home brewer, check out their club!

When asked whether there had been any brew that excited the club, James mentioned that there had been several showcase of memorable beers in the past, but it’s often the unusual ones that stand out the most. He recalled a “sour beer” which was brewed by one of the Club members for their monthly meet-up. This style of beer, originally produced from Belgium, had apparently gained popularity worldwide and a club member accidentally brewed a version of it (fermented at room temperature with a variety of yeasts (and bacteria) from unusual sources, even some wild ones) and it took the member just a few weeks! James noted that this was pretty unusual because the brew usually require a prolonged aging period for the flavours to meld and for it to be palatable. Sounds like this is a lot of experimental fun!

Apart from the more formal tasting session, the club also hold talks and more social events at time, eg. barbecues or brew-alongs. Beyond the club gatherings, members also enter their beers into the locally run iBrew Challenge each year! However, the current challenge of the club would be to find suitable meet-up places for the growing club. Well, I guess that might be a happy problem!

Participation at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire

As some of the club’s members are active in the local Maker community, and were due to participate in SMMF via the CQT stall, the idea of introducing homebrew brewed (pun intended!).

The team hopes to give people an insight into the work that goes into producing the world’s most popular fermented beverage, and perhaps also to pass on their enthusiasm in homebrew. At their booth, the Homebrew club members will run an ongoing demonstration of “yeast starters” – a process whereby you grow up a large population of yeast cells to pitch into your fermenter — onto their home-made magnetic stir plates. If logistics allow, they also plan to do a couple of “mini mashes” to show how they extract fermentable sugars from malted grains, and have brewers to talk about hacking kitchen appliances, adapting and splicing recipes, yeast ranching and other techniques they have tried.

Curious to learn about the Singapore Homebrew Club? Come by the Singapore Mini Maker Faire on 26 & 27 July or check out their website http://www.meetup.com/Singapore-Homebrew/

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One response to “Introducing Dr James Grieve and the Singapore Homebrew Club

  1. Pingback: Singapore Mini Maker Faire July 26 and 27th | MAKE

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