Craft Beer Asia stops over on the soft launch for TAP Craft Beer Bar – and talks to Beer Chief Roland Utama about the beery times past and yet to come! Roland’s been a prominent figure in local circles, from getting beers out to the masses through Thirsty, The Drinkery and now TAP.
Share with us the story of how you got hooked on craft beer!
Truth be told – I didn’t like beer at the start. I was more of a wine and spirits person (I still am!) because of the way mass market beer tasted – it has this smell and taste to it which has always put me off, and it’s gassy – such that you feel bloated way before you get buzzed.
There came a time when I found myself in Belgium – and I noticed beer shops which had such a huge lineup of bottled beer. I decided to give one of them a shot – and that was it. I was taken by the complexity in flavour that I never tasted before and that stuck with me – beer could this way! To me, everyone has a ‘gateway’ beer – one that changes their impression of how delicious a beer can be – and that one did it for me. I can’t recall which beer it was now… (that beer was actually Orval).
What do you know – it was the Rochefort 10 that pulled me into beer too!
From that point on I would give beer a try wherever I went, sampling local offerings and expanding my horizons. After spending some time in the states and getting a taste of the latest in craft brewing – I was hooked.
Tell me about TAP – concept, ideology and anything else.
Our focus at TAP is to provide a great variety on draft, to push consumers to try new beers and explore their tastes. Not so long ago – there really wasn’t much choice for beer – you would walk into a restaurant and perhaps order their house pour – but there would never be anything other than commercial options. Now we see that changing. And we want it to change! I see more craft beer options opening up as a plus. My feel is that the market can support it as the local palate evolves to appreciate craft beers.
In Singapore, being seen and accessible is a big boost to business and this definitely includes craft beer. My approach is to be visibly seen in order to offer people a choice, and this will get more drinkers to catch on. This location was key – people may not necessarily come here looking for craft beer – but if we can get them to sample craft beers, they will return because of craft beer. Once they find their ‘gateway’ beer, they’ll be telling us what else they want to try!
Where do you see craft beer headed in Singapore?
Singapore is in a great spot for craft beer. High disposable income, an influx of visitors and a growing appreciation of things ‘handcrafted’ will pave the way for craft beer to become mainstream in time. Beer here has taken quite some time to get on wine’s popular track, but it’s a matter of time now. People are willing to pay more for quality, and expect more out of their products – and this can be seen in the rise of specialty offerings such as supermarkets and smaller grocers. I don’t believe that anyone who has gone craft, will ever return to mass market beers.
Thanks for your time, Roland! We’re looking forward to your official opening!
Thanks for coming by! Stay tuned for more new beers from new breweries at TAP.