Last Updated : 05/07/06
Raging Thirst versus Raging
Inflation! by Steve Westby
t was ruddy hot in Singapore, but whilst the temperatures may be rising fast the price of a beer was rising faster - almost by the minute in fact! After a pleasant stroll round Chinatown and a pleasant meal in a food court where I reckon we were charged three times what the menu said, it was time for something more exciting than the the couple of pints of Tiger that I had washed down the grub with.
So we set off for the Brewerkz brewpub via the excellent MRT underground train system, a bargain at about 40p a trip. Brewerkz is set at the side of the Singapore river, with tables set outside to allow customers to enjoy the pleasant views. Views that turned into a superb lightshow after dark with the surrounding buildings changing colours at frequent intervals. Needless to say it was too hot for the management and we chose to eat and drink inside in air conditioned comfort.
This is unashamedly an American style brewpub, with merchandise such as tee shirts, mugs and bags on sale in the foyer and gleaming brewing vessels on display behind the bar, and judging by the size of them this place brews a serious amount of beer. We headed for the bar whilst waiting for a table to become available and to my delight I immediately spotted a neon sign saying "ask for cask" and there on the bar a handpump alongside the dozen or so keg fonts.
"Hopback" is a 4.5% light golden cask conditioned ale and it was excellent. It was low in carbonation and fairly hoppy, with a hint of an American hop, perhaps cascade, but not as overdosed as some American attempts at cask ales can be. With perfect timing I had just finished savouring my first pint when we were shown to our table, at which point I immediately ordered another before studying the menu.
Having ordered a clam chowder followed by oatcrusted catfish for myself and a grilled portobello mushroom topped with cheesey mash for Sue, I got down to the important bit of studying the beer menu. There were twelve draught beers on offer (spelt "draft" of course this being an American joint) and you could order small sample glases of six if them at a time. The beer range included a Golden Ale, Kolsch, Pilsner, Rye Beer, Irish Red Ale, IPA, Fruit "brewz", Bock Beer, Oatmeal Stout and "Xtra IPA".
I noticed that the menu also offered a range of bottled Belgian beers plus three of the excellent Belgian-style beers brewed in Canada, Trois Pistolles, Eau Benite and Maudite. But it was at this point that I spotted the prices and nearly had a panic attack! It wasn't just that the beers were expensive, which they certainly were, but worse than that they increased by the hour!
A pint (Americam pint of course 16oz instead of the British 20oz) was $4.49 Singapore dollars between 12 and 3, $6.99 between 3 & 6 pm, $8.49 between 6 & 8 pm and a whopping $12.49 after 8pm. Given that there are 2.83 singapore dollars to the british pound, that makes it well over 4 quid a pint (equivalent of a fiver for a British sized pint) after 8 o'clock. Then I spotted the small print, this is all plus 10% service charge, 1% CESS and 5% GST, not only that you also get the chance to add a tip on your credit card at the end which I gracefully declined to do.
At this point it was 7.40 so I panicked and ordered another pint of the splendid Hopback real ale. I noticed that most of the other customers were ordering beer in jugs or those enormous glass containers with taps that you see in parts of Europe, with inflation raging at this rate who can blame them! To be fair, just before 8 they came round each table asking if we wanted more beer before the prices go up. I was still thirsty so ordereda 375ml glass of the Xtra IPA which turned out to be a splendidly hoppy, unfiltered, 7.2% brew.
All in all an excellent evening out in a very relaxing and efficient bar/restaurant, which Sue was very taken with. Mind you with the bill coming to nearly fifty quid with the beers and two glasses of wine, it ought to be! As my wallet was stinging we decided to save 80p on the MRT fare and had a pleasant stroll back to the hotel, only to stop off at a bar on the way and get stung again for a large glass of Erdinger wheat beer.
To cap it all I have just checked my credit card receipt and discovered that I was charged 9.49 singapore dollars a pint not the 8.49 I thought I had read. So it was tap water for the rest of the holiday then!