Local craft beer breweries Sunbird Brewing Company and Brewlander have always been held in high regard for their creations, often incorporating fiercely Asian flavours and taste profiles into their special brews, making them both unique and easy to drink. So what happens when the two of them join forces? Something altogether quite ferocious.
Newly launched just in time for the festive season, the 10% ABV Triple Threat IPA by Brewlander and Sunbird Brewing Company has been unleashed at Crimson by Sunbird, available for drinking in-house and available for takeaway. Brewed with the best of both Sunbird and Brewlander, the collaboration was born as a means of celebrating the strength and hope for the F&B industry, after the many blows and obstacles they’ve faced during this pandemic period.
“We’ve known each other a while, and wanted to create a brew that reflect the troubles of the F&B industry, something that both reflected the challenges, while also representing us cheering on the members of the industry,” says Clive Tan, founder of Sunbird Brewing Company. “While we did release it during this festive period, we didn’t want it to be a ‘festive’ beer, and that reflects in the can’s eye-catching design, which speaks for itself and stands out as its own brew without being a ‘Christmas’ beer.”
“I’ve known Clive for a couple of years now and observed his career from a distance, and I’m really proud of how far he’s come on this journey, all the way since we first met at a home brewers’ workshop,” says Brewlander founder John Wei, about the collaboration between both companies and their friendship. “He was very quiet, but then when he went over to work at Archipelago Brewery, it made me realise that he was serious about it, and had a lot of passion – it’s not easy work, and he has to commute all the way to Tuas! It’s a lot of sacrifice, and when he went on to start his own brewery, I knew I wanted to work with him on something at some point.”
Commenting on the collaboration process, John explains the initial ideas and brainstorming that went into the brew. “We didn’t want to rush into it, and we pitched ideas back and forth, and floated a lot of styles we wanted to explore and challenge ourselves with,” he says. “It’s a very crowded market already, and we knew we couldn’t just come up with another regular IPA. Eventually, we realised no local breweries had done a triple IPA yet, and that’s how Triple Threat came about.”
“We wanted people to end the year on a high – literally!” adds John, on the unusually high 10% ABV. “What makes it so special is the hops we use – so many of them aren’t readily available, and aren’t common choices by Asia brewers. There’s a bit of a Sauvignon Blanc character, some hint of gooseberries, and some El Dorado hops Clive won in a competition, top it off with some Vic Secret Hops, and there you go.”
“On our end, we’re both familiar with recipes, and tend to fall back on tastes we’re familiar with. We know customers have preferences, and you can’t please everyone in terms of brew and marketing,” says Clive. “Brewlander and Sunbird have different profiles, but I think that we’ve managed to infuse the brew with both our strengths, and I hope the consumers will see the effort we’ve put into it, and be proud that it’s made by local brewers.”
“In Asian society, the resulting stress and mental health issues that emerge from all the lockdowns and dining-in restrictions aren’t something we readily discuss, and that takes a toll, on top of how we keep making plans that fall through, re-plan and make snap adaptations according to how fast the rules change. We think about the survival of the business, the welfare of the staff, and often, we forget about taking care of ourselves.”– John Wei, Founder of Brewlander
“So that’s why we wanted to bring that to the fore while collaborating on this brew, and you can see how even in the design, there’s a head being split, and you imagine people smiling on the outside but have no idea what’s going on inside, with this facade they put on,” says John.
“What we’ve been through, maybe it’s time to acknowledge the F&B workers as silent heroes during this period as well,” Clive concludes. “And launching this beer, it reflects what we’ve been through for the last two years, to celebrate that we’ve gotten this far, and the hope that the struggle will be over soon. To encapsulate this idea of togetherness, regardless of industry, and encourage and support one another through these tough times.”