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With a lager as green as its surroundings, RedDot BrewHouse is far from your typical urban microbrewery. RedDot occupies the old Tanglin Barracks, an 1860 colonial bungalow in Dempsey Hill Green, opposite the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Specialising in European-style beer with an Asian twist, the brewery has a minimum of eight beers on tap, including a spirulina-infused Monster Green Lager and a wheat beer flavoured with kaffir lime. Surrounded by trees, with a pond at the entrance to the open-air restaurant and a large beer garden, RedDot provides a tranquil refuge from the Singapore bustle. There's a second outlet on the riverfront at Boat Quay and a third located in Melbourne.
Serving traditional craft beer in a totally untraditional setting, LeVeL33 likes to boast that it is the world's highest microbrewery. And who can blame them. Positioned on the 33rd level of one of the Marina Bay Financial Centre towers, the venue has such spectacular views the beer is almost an afterthought. Tables on the terrace overlooking the city and bay are hot property, while inside the copper kettles are not just for show. Five beers are on tap – an Indian Pale Ale, stout, wheat beer, house porter and a blonde – and all are made in the purists' tradition by German-trained, Argentinian-born brew-master Gabriel Garcia. The restaurant also serves refined European-inspired dishes.
A blink and you'll miss it establishment befitting the genre "micro" brewery, Hospoda is little more than a hole-in-the-wall. The brewery is located a stone's throw from Little India and specialises in Czech-style beer – all brewed within a tiny premises on site. There are three styles of beer on tap – a Bohemian Pilsner, Bohemian Dark Larger and a combination of the two – and patrons sit at high tables and stools that spill into the pedestrian mall of Albert Court. Hospoda is popular with the local student population and has a grungy feel: two guitars hang from the entrance and "MAKE BEER NOT WAR" is emblazoned across the four tanks that consume most of the small shopfront.
A big brewery-cum-American-style sports bar, Brewerkz is the most recognisable craft brewer in Singapore, with four venues across the city. The first, in the lively Riverside Point precinct, was the original brew house and retains some ornamental infrastructure (beer is now made at a larger premises in Kampong Ampat). Brewerkz has 13 different brews on tap at any one time, ranging from a light golden ale to dark oatmeal stout, and serves classic American diner fare. Curiously, the amount you pay for a pint depends on when you visit. There are three pricing cycles, the most expensive being 7pm to midnight when drinks are more than double midday prices.
THE 1925 BREWING CO
Four gleaming tanks greet patrons behind the bar at this small, family-run microbrewery and restaurant operated out of a two-storey shop house in Jalan Besar. Despite the name, the brewery only opened in 2014 (it's named after the birth year of the owners' grandfather) and is one of the many newcomers to Singapore's thriving craft beer scene. There aren't many in-house beers on tap (two ales and a lager when I visit) but they are complemented by a selection of guest brews. The food has western and local influences, with a nod to the owners' Teochew-Chinese heritage, and there's a definite crossover between beer making and cooking: beer reductions glaze the grilled meat and there's even a beer ice-cream – black with delicious notes of maple and chai.
LITTLE ISLAND BREWING CO
Close enough to Changi Airport to justify one last hurrah before flying, the Little Island Brewing Co is a large, bustling brewpub designed for lingering. Long share tables occupy the forecourt, and inside the industrial, warehouse-inspired space comprises a brewery at one end and kitchen/grill at the other. The six regular beers – ales, lagers and stout – are available self-serve with a digital top-up card and charged by the millilitre, so you only pay for what your pour, and you can also try before you buy. Beer is paired with hearty comfort food, think succulent 15-hour smoked Wagyu beef brisket and chilli-cumin rubbed roast pork belly.
Catherine Best travelled with the assistance of Singapore Airlines and was a guest at RedDot BrewHouse and LeVeL33