Brewing Up a Storm


Brewing Up a Storm

Photo courtesy of The Business Times.
Written by Debbie Yong for The Business Times on May 05, 2014.
Read the actual report here:

Craft brews are all the rage these days, and the latest players are taking it up a notch by serving up beers freshly tapped from their on-site microbreweries. Debbie Yong and Georgine Verano mull over a pint at three new brewpubs in town.

It’s an oft-repeated tale of provenance by now: family X throws dinner parties with legendary dishes made from hand-me-down recipes, word spreads and soon, friends and distant relatives are hankering for more.

But while most families have gone on to incorporate online retail businesses around their homemade jams or sambals, the Yeos have decided to build a brick-and-mortar microbrewery around their home-brewed beer that has become a staple at family gatherings.

The master brewer behind the sought-after tipple is Yeo King Joey, 50, a full-time aircraft engineer who picked up home-brewing from an Australian colleague five years ago, and hasn’t looked back since.

Together with nephew Ivan Yeo, 33, the two men will run The 1925, a microbrewery-restaurant set to open in Jalan Besar next month.

Spread across the first two floors of a shophouse directly opposite the Lavender Food Centre, the ground floor dining room will seat 40 to 50, while the wine and whisky lounge upstairs holds 30 for those who want a more intimate experience.

The space’s highlight, of course, will be the four steel tanks behind the entrance bar counter, which can hold up to 600 litres of beer each. For starters, The 1925 will produce just two kinds of beer, a dark and light pilsner, to test the market.

Unlike most microbreweries though, the limited budget and space constraints of the family-run outfit means that only the beer production process from the fermentation stage onwards will be completed at The 1925. Ready-processed raw materials will be sourced in extract form from countries such as the Czech Republic and Australia to kick-start the brewing process.

To supplement any lapses in production – as a full brew cycle takes over two weeks – the restaurant will also carry three flavours from stalwart local microbrewery, Brewerkz.

“Our generation has more earning power, so they’re starting to become more inquisitive about their food and drink. You see that in the number of craft beer shops coming up,” observes Ivan, who used to run his own design agency and is a musician in local band Paraphrase.

But more than just tap fresh beer, the eatery’s aim is to front a wider philosophy of adding a personal touch to the entire production process of food, from its start to end point.

Besides working with local wine purveyors De’Wine International to source exclusive wines from private estates from the Old World and New World, The 1925 will roll up its shutters early to serve up air-roasted coffee from Graffeo to cater to the morning foot traffic headed towards the CBD.

The seafood-centric food menu, meanwhile, will feature Western classics with local touches, such as pork knuckle rendered with char siew sauce, and fish and chips deep-fried Thai-style. Desserts will be presented in a creative cocktail format, with concoctions such as frangelico sour and a cheesecake-inspired creation still being tinkered with.

Where possible, dishes and drinks will work in fruits and herbs such as pandan, rosemary or thyme from the restaurant’s backyard garden.

Named after the birth year of Ivan’s grandfather or King Joey’s father, the restaurant’s holding company was also aptly christened Sons and Sons, Ivan points out, as they are hoping the business will eventually be carried on through generations.

“We’re a family that believes a lot in preserving our culture and heritage,” he adds.