Bringing brewers together from across Asia and beyond, this year’s Brew Asia has been a resounding success.
With a conference programme curated around the theme “Delivering The Future” over 800 attendees had the opportunity over 2 days to meet colleagues from across the region, exchange ideas, attend presentations and workshops delivered by industry luminaries and experts and explore the trade fair packed full of global suppliers.
Brewers from Australia to Japan, India to the Philippines made their way to the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City to join the 9th edition of Brew Asia (formerly SEA Brew), held in the spectacular GEM Center exhibition venue in the heart of the city’s District 1, a stone’s throw from the city centre’s famous cluster of taprooms, craft beer bars and brewpubs.
Day one of the conference commenced with a pragmatic keynote from Garrett Marrero, Founder & CEO of Maui Brewing Company, who shared some home truths about the realities of a maturing market. He reflected on how consumers were trending towards seltzers and spirits and explained how and why his brewery had introduced more variety into their product portfolio by releasing a range of seltzers and spirits – moving his company towards a more embracing ‘lifestyle brand’. Although the craft beer market in Asia is far from mature, it will pay to be ready for when it is.
On the second day of the conference Scott Janish of Sapwood Cellars and author of The New IPA shared how community collaboration helped him research his book and how working together can propel the industry forwards. Scott also held a masterclass on maximizing hop aroma and flavour in beer sharing findings from his research.
Looking to the future there were workshops in the innovative use of hops from BarthHaas’s brewing solutions team as well as how to reduce your brewing costs through the use of liquid malt and hop extracts from the Pure Malt and Totally Natural Solutions teams.
Yeast supplier Fermentis took the opportunity for the global launch of their latest yeast SafAle W-68™. A classic German-style wheat beer yeast from the vaults of Weihenstephan specialty selected for the production of aromatic beers with typical phenolic character and rich in fruity and floral flavors.
The most popular workshop of the show proved to be Siebel Institute’s “Judge Like A Judge” workshop hosted by Lallemand’s technical team of Richard Chamberlain and Daniel McCulloch. This practical sensory guide to beer assessment was aimed not at only those interested in joining the global beer judging circuit, but also brewery teams and sales teams who have to assess beers on the market on a daily basis. The workshop included everyday practical beer assessment exercises including sensory evaluation and off-flavour identification.
Discussion groups during the conference also addressed the issues of maintaining business uniqueness in an increasingly congested marketplace, working together as a community while still competing for a relatively small consumer base and avoiding the pitfalls experienced by more developed premium beer markets.
This year’s Brew Asia trade fair was 50% larger than that of 2022, featuring over 60 exhibitors and a greater array of equipment and ingredients from across the industry supply chain.
From industry heavyweights Steinecker and Ziemann Holvrieka to custom producers PMG and Bespoke Brewing Solutions there were brewhouse options for every budget. The wide selection of ingredients suppliers brought new recipe options to all in attendance.
Keg suppliers BLEFA and Schaefer as well as draft pouring powerhouse Micro Matic and glassware providers O-I and Rastal ensured dispensing was also well covered.
The show ended with the now traditional Asia Beer Championship Awards evening, celebrating Asia’s best brews and breweries. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded across 31 beerstyle categories and for the first year the region’s best ciders were celebrated with their own competition, the Asia Cider Championship.
In front of a lively and expectant room the Champion Beer of Asia was awarded to “Summer Breeze” a saison from The Philippines’ Elias Wicked Ales & Spirits and for the second year running China’s URBREW collected Champion Large Sized Brewery of Asia and Singapore’s Brewerkz collected the Champion Medium Sized Brewery trophy.
Relative industry newcomers Sunbird Brewing Company (SGP) and Chabba Brewing Company (CHN) were awarded Champion Small Sized Brewery and Champion Brewpub of Asia respectively.
It wouldn’t be Brew Asia without the evening Social Calendar, and this year the breweries of Vietnam rolled out the red carpet for their visiting contemporaries.
From this year’s Welcome Reception, presented by Fermentis, which saw a packed house in East West Brewing Company’s centrally located and spectacular brewpub begin this year’s proceedings to the dynamic display of pro-wrestling at Heart of Darkness Brewery’s Conference Friday night After Party the evenings were full of high energy entertainment across the the city’s taprooms.
The strong spirit of community was evident at Bia Craft & Belgo’s Bottle Share Block Party. The fun even rolled on into Saturday for those who hung around for the weekend with Steersman Brewery’s “Breakfast of Champions” celebrating local breweries Asia Beer Championship medal winning beers, Crafted Beverage Solution’s Saigon Brewfest, Quan Ut Ut x Turtle Lake’s BBQ-Off and ibiero’s Cốm Festival, celebrating their Vietnamese seasonal rice lager.
The two days of workshops, technical seminars, discussion groups and trade networking left attendees re-invigorated for the year ahead and full of inspiration to drive their businesses forward.
The next Brew Asia will see the travelling show swapping the bustling and balmy streets of Saigon for the garden city of Singapore, returning home for what will be it’s 10th Anniversary. As the show grows alongside the region’s brewing industry it’s time for an upgrade, Brew Asia 2024 will feature a larger, more dynamic trade fair and interactive conference programme when it opens its doors on the 3rd & 4th October at the spectacular Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre.