SINGAPORE – Daniel Ong and Allan Wu have joined forces to launch their own craft beer label, along with other partners.
Called Brewlander, there are currently four varieties available: A summer ale called Hope, a Saison called Pride, a Wild India Pale Ale (IPA) called Love and a Double IPA called Courage.
The beer is developed by John Wei, an award-winning home brewer and certified judge for regional beer competitions. Wei, 35, who is one of the partners, has gone by the nickname “Brewlander” for about six years.
“After I tasted his beers, I felt that we needed to start producing his beers commercially. This is one of the best craft beers I’ve ever had. It’s interesting how a Singaporean guy can do quality that’s as high as Belgian quality,” said Ong. The 41-year-old former radio DJ has a hand in several F&B ventures including the restaurants Mischief and Rookery.
“We brought in Allan because his nickname is ‘Wulander’ and John’s nickname is ‘Brewlander,” he quipped. “We want people to think that people who drink our beer will look like Allan.”
Wu is the hunky host of Amazing Race Asia and is known for being a fitness freak.
“Many people have this image of me as not drinking alcohol at all. They think I’m this little health nut. But I enjoy drinking,” Wu said. “I knew I loved beer enough to say, ‘Okay, let’s give this thing a shot’.” He added that Ong was involved, which gave him peace of mind. Brewlander is Wu’s first business venture, while Ong is a seasoned F&B entrepreneur whose Twelve Cupcakes chain — which he started with ex-wife, former beauty queen Jaime Teo — was bought over by an Indian company for S$2.5 million last year.
Wu invested a five-figure sum into the Brewlander project, and Ong, the major shareholder with a 40 per cent stake in the business, disclosed that the entire venture involves a six-figure sum.
Asked why he wanted to get into the F&B scene, and Wu replied that “everyone has always told me to open gyms or do F&B”.
He initially did not want to get into F&B as “I’d have to be spending a lot of time there working”, he said.
“This is actually a nice little step into it. I’m more on the back end — I just try to have friends and media come and get the word out on this beer,” said the 44-year-old.
He was attracted to the name of Brewlander, too.
“When (John and Daniel) first told me the name of the beer, I thought it was (named) for me. I was like, ‘Aww, you guys are so sweet’. They were like, ‘Oh, no, actually, this guy’s moniker is Brewlander’,” he recalled wryly.
Brewlander is already a scuccess, selling out before it launched. Ong puts this down to Wei’s status in the drinks industry.
“Because of John’s name – he’s a cult figure in the brew scene – we are only left with a little bit of stock to supply to our vendors. I did manage to get some stock for Mischief and Rookery,” said Ong.
In Singapore, Brewlander will be carried at dining outlets and bars such as Alchemy Bistro, Freehouse, Good Luck Beerhouse, Thirsty Craft Beer Shop, 3rd Culture Brewing Co., as well as Ong’s Mischief and Rookery.
The beer is also available in Hong Kong, Taipei and Cambodia, where it is produced.
“The next step is Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia,” Ong said. “We know we want to conquer Asia. And then after that, we hope to be able to open our own brewery in Singapore, hopefully within the next nine months to a year.”
There are 16 more varieties of beer in the works, with plans for seasonal releases incorporating regional flavours.
“We try to be as respectful to the style (of beer) and add our own flavour and twist to it, with a good bit of fun,” said Wei, who left his job as a regional sales and business development manager at a construction company in order to go into brewing full-time. “I source for all my ingredients ... We do not hold back on the cost and we go all the way with the quality.”
For information on Brewlander beer, visit https://brewlander.wordpress.com/