If you like to drink beer, you would probably be complaining about the obvious choices available to you in Singapore.
From Tiger Beer to Corona to Heineken, mass-produced beers are typically monotone in flavour and not very palatable. You might be drinking these beers just to get the kick from the alcohol, and not because you actually appreciate the taste and the flavour.
Will Julius, an American-Indonesian entrepreneur, saw a gap in the Singapore market and decided to start Lion Brewery Co, a craft beer company.
Having lived in London, Germany, and Australia, Julius had been spoiled with the variety, choices and abundance of craft beer options there.
When he was a student in London, he lived 20 metres away from a local bar that served home-brewed delicious ales, which made him fall in love with the concept of craft beer. The cherry on top was that it offered discounts to students.
He later embarked on a brief career as a football player in Germany, and then moved to Melbourne to work in marketing for four years. When he moved to Singapore, he met his co-founder Harry Renshaw, who is an avid home brewer.
They then decided they wanted to produce and sell beers that they would like to drink themselves.
Brewing For Singapore’s Tropical Climate
Craft beers taste better because they are made with specific, hand-selected ingredients, and it is only produced in smaller batches by master brewers who truly love beer.
They are brewed with specific flavours in mind, so you will almost never find two craft beers that are exactly alike. Craft beers also often vary by the season, based on the availability of ingredients at a particular time of the year.
When Julius first moved to Singapore, he noticed that not only is there a lack of craft beer options in Singapore, the ones available here are rather dense and not easy to consume for non-heavy drinkers.
They tend to be of India Pale Ale (IPA) variety, which is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale widespread in England since 1815 and grew in popularity worldwide. IPA beers in Singapore are usually very hoppy, and with more than six per cent alcohol content.
According to Julius, his team has perfected a recipe of three flagship craft beers and eight seasonal brews that are perfect to serve at a tropical room temperature. They come in lower alcohol content of around five per cent or less, just like the variety of commercial beers.
On the one hand, Lion Brewery’s beers are crisp, refreshing, and easy to drink like commercial beers, but on the other hand, they are also flavourful with a lot of character due to the use of premium and natural ingredients.
They have their own independent, production facility in Singapore that is not attached to any macro brewery. An in-house master brewer from Singapore selected unique ingredients to brew distinctive beer flavours that became their flagship products.
The Straits Pale Ale is a crisp pale ale, single-hopped with Citra at both the bittering and dry-hop stages for notes of lychee and citrus fruits, while the Island Lager is a clean, German-inspired lager brewed with Hallertau Blanc hops for a light elderflower and pine aroma.
Lastly, their New England Session IPA is a juicy, unfiltered, all-natural brew with flavours at full blast at a refreshing 4.8 per cent alcohol content.
Hailing From An Old London Heritage
Julius bought an old, black-and-white British craft beer label called Lion Brewery, and brought it back to life in Singapore, the Lion City.
It was such a serendipitous find. I am a history buff, and as a craft beer fan, I read up about the history and origin of craft beers and interesting breweries through the ages. Then I came across Lion Brewery and I knew that this had to be our label.
Will Julius, Founder and CEO of Lion Brewery Co
The history of Lion Brewery dated back to 1836 London, where it was originally founded on the bank of the River Thames. For over a hundred years, the brewery produced high-quality ales that were shipped across the seas to all parts of the globe, including Southeast Asia.
When the brewery was demolished in a fire in 1949, the brewery’s two iconic lion statues were preserved at the request of King George VI.
They can still be found in London today — one on the bank of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, and the other at the entrance of Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby.
Since Lion Brewery’s inception in Singapore in December 2018, they have been growing and spreading very quickly.
Lion Brewery’s beers are available on their e-commerce platform, via distributors such as Cold Storage and FairPrice Finest, as well as in over 150 bars, restaurants, hotels and off-trade retail partners across Singapore.
Locations that serve them are usually premium venues that match the brand of their beers, including 1880, Straits Clan, Foxtail, SG Taps, Cafe Gavroche, Goodluck Beerhouse, Orh Gao Taproom, Sixteen Ounces, American Taproom, Burn, Boulevard, among others.
When Covid-19 hit, they quickly adapted by gearing more towards the B2C (business-to-consumer) route instead of selling to event and venue partners.
They also have expansion plans to enter new markets in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and also back in the UK.
The Only Carbon-Negative Draft Beer in Singapore
Lion Brewery always seeks out best practices to make its products and operations environmentally friendly, without compromising on the quality of their beer.
They have made a commitment to become fully carbon negative. In order to do this, they have partnered with GreenStepGroup to plant a tree in Indonesia for each keg of beer sold. For this year, they aim to plant 200 trees a month.
They calculated all the carbon cost required to produce a keg or beer, and the carbon cost offset by planting and growing a tree. They found that one tree will negate the carbon footprint of the life cycle of one keg, hence it is safe to say that their draft beer is 100 per cent carbon negative.
The growth and progress of each tree can be monitored using Green Steps Group’s proprietary “proof of planting” technology platform that combines geo-tagging, camera-traps and satellite multispectral imagery.
A unique QR code links to an individual tree’s location, date and time of planting, and information about the local farmer. Each tree planted will be geo-tagged under Lion Brewery Co and the partnering F&B venue that bought the keg.
Lion lovers enjoying their beers at home can also contribute to sponsor tree-planting by adding just S$4 to any order placed on the e-store’s checkout page.
Julius hopes that this strategy will encourage partners to share about their environmental contribution to their own customers, thus spreading the trend and the good will.
The point of launching this company is to create interesting beers that reflect our team and our customers’ passion and values. It is not about mass scaling beers at the lowest cost possible to maximise profit; it is about creating something that others may appreciate and enjoy.
At the heart of our mission is promoting a conscious and intentional living. We want our customers to choose our beer intentionally because they appreciate all the ingredients and the thoughtful process that goes into creating our product. We also want them to understand the carbon impact of their consumption and give them a chance to offset that.
Will Julius, Founder and CEO of Lion Brewery Co
Featured Image Credit: Lion Brewery Co