Nick & Nat: A questionnaire

Awhile back, Corrine from The Great Beer Experiment sent us a questionnaire to find out more about our homebrew operation and our favourite beers. We think it’ll give you a bit more insight about us as beer geeks. Enjoy! :)

Where did you learn about brewing?
Nick: Internet. My friends and I wanted to make cheap beer so we could stay home and watch the EPL, but my friend abandoned me though and I decided to keep brewing beer.
Nat: Through Nick, in small bits and bobs through interviewing local brewers, and books like The Naked Brewer by lady home brewers Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune.

First beer we ever drank and our impressions
Nat: Tiger, naturally. My parents owned a pub when I was a kid and had always tried to egg me on to take sips and taste beer as a kid – it was awful. As a young adult, I drank a lot of crappy pisswater lagers beer while hanging out with friends, but never got interested in learning more about beer until I drank… you guessed it, Erdinger and Hoegaarden. I feel like that’s pretty much the standard brew that a lot of Singaporeans use to erase their bad impression of beer brought on unfortunately by commercial lagers. Those two beers were my springboard in wanting to learn more about craft beers.

Nick: As a kid, Carling. I was twelve or eleven. Something like that. It was nasty, bitter, real man’s drink. On the craft beer end, I had a lot of English ales like Black Sheep, Hobgoblin – they were nasty and bitter at first as I wasn’t used to the hops. I only turned into a beer snob because I made my own beer.

What inspired you to brew beers?
Nick: After the initial it-was-cheap thing, it was to improve and make the technologies. I don’t give a shit about lagers, but I thought it was a challenge to try and make a proper German pilsner (Jever) for my Swiss/German housemate.

Describe your first attempted beer and your impression
Nick: It was an English Bitter made with a kit. I broke the hydrometer in the fermenter so we had glass in our beer. We drank it anyway – we weren’t throwing that investment away! It was nasty, it had off, sour, medicinal flavours. Tangy in a bad way, and it had a metallic twang.
Nat: It was awful.

At which attempt did you finally brew a beer you really liked?
Nick: We did about four kits, then started adding hops to our extract brews. The first one we really liked was a pale ale extract malt and added Centennial and Amarillo. It was solid, similar to a Yona Yona, and it smelled amazing.

Your go-to beer on a hot sunny day
Nick: Yona Yona.
Nat: Brewdog Dead Pony Club and To Øl Reparationsbajer – if I was only allowed to drink one beer for the rest of my life, this would be it. To me, it has an amazing balance between malt body and floral, fruity hops – like a man in a floral dress, but in the best possible way ever. :)

Go-to on a cold day
Nick: Wychwood Goliath, or Red Hook ESB. They’re solid malty beers. I’m not a big, dark beer drinker, so I like something with sweetness, a solid malt body and not much carbonation.
Nat: I have a few! Samuel Smith’s Extra Special Bitter, To Øl Goliat, and the Pump Room’s Vader’s Helmet. Stuff so full-on in flavour that you spontaneously let out a ‘Whoa!’ after taking a sip of.

Go-to on any days
Nick: Yona Yona. Yona Yona. Yona Yonaaaa.
Nat: Something with hop florals and bitterness and a solid malt body. Right now, that means beers like the Reparationsbajer, Brewdog’s Jack Hammer, Chaos Theory, and The Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale by Lagunitas – I haven’t had that since Beerfest two or three years ago but it. is. the. best.

Current favourite beer brands:
Nick: Thornbridge is the best craft beer available in Singapore, as far as I’m concerned. Cantillon because I like sour, weird beers, Deschutes – the whole range is solid.
Nat: To Øl, Brewdog, Lagunitas. Scott and Hayman at the Pump Room’s doing some really awesome things lately too.

Current favourite beer styles:
Nick: Non-fruity lambics (Gueuzes), I’ve gotten into IPAs lately.
Nat: Mine hasn’t changed in awhile – APAs, IPAs, IIPAs, and increasingly porters.

Describe your dream beer:
Nick: Someone’s already made it – it’s Yona Yona.
Nat: Something with a malt body, fruity and floral hops. Quite like the beers I’ve mentioned above. Oh, and please be just 10 calories a pint without compromising on taste! You said dream beer, right? :)

Brewers you respect most and why:
Nick: Adi from Jungle Beer – he changed the scene. He went all ballsy and just made a massive brewery at a big risk. Also Richard Wellershoff from Blue Bali. He’s very creative, he’s German and doesn’t brew lagers – that’s ace. John Wei – he’s probably the most technically astute home brewer I’ve met.
Nat: Fal Allen. I never had the honour of meeting him while he was here, but the guy was ahead of his time and so experimental with the ingredients and flavours he tried to create at Archipelago. I think it’s my biggest beer-related regret so far that I didn’t get into beer early enough to actually meet him. I also have much respect for Adi from Jungle Beer too, doing what he does and sticking to his guns even though craft beer is such a niche here in Singapore still.

Favourite beer ingredient:
Nick: Biscuit malt – it’s awesome. It makes biscuit flavours in beers. It goes it red ales and English styles.
Nat: Hops. I fricking love hops.

Most horrifying brewing experience:
Nick: The one where we used chlorine for sanitation and didn’t clean it out properly. We made a beer that tasted like Chinese medicine – it was awful.
Nat: The Chinese medicine beer, and the one brew that got infected and tasted just like bubble gum. That was perplexing and much too sweet to drink. And that time when Nick burned his foot really bad. I was a bit drunk because we were having a party at ours and had to gather all my focus to try and help him.

Aside from quality of ingredients, what do you think makes a good brewer?
Nick: Size of his nut sack. Just being trying something that nobody else has tried and having the guts to do it.
Nat: A great understanding of flavours (beyond just beer), a scientific mind, and good financial/company backing to allow him or her to really push his/her vision through. I’ve learned that just because a brewery’s churning out boring beers, doesn’t mean its brewer sucks – sometimes he/she’s constrained by the market he/she’s in and by decisions from upper management.

Any other details:
Nick: I burnt my foot once with boiling water – got second-degree burns for that.
Nat: Untappd’s your best friend once you start tasting a wide range of beer (add me! @nartz). We love distributors like Corrine and Lincoln for constantly bringing in new beers for us to try and appreciate. :)