Beerfest Asia introduces beer sampling

Headlining the entertainment for this year's Beerfest Asia are girl band Lez Zeppelin (far left). Festivalgoers can also taste the Atlas Co. Hard Apricot Cider (left), which is exclusive to the event.
Headlining the entertainment for this year's Beerfest Asia are girl band Lez Zeppelin (far left). Festivalgoers can also taste the Atlas Co. Hard Apricot Cider (left), which is exclusive to the event.PHOTOS: BEERFEST ASIA, DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Headlining the entertainment for this year's Beerfest Asia are girl band Lez Zeppelin (far left). Festivalgoers can also taste the Atlas Co. Hard Apricot Cider (left), which is exclusive to the event.
Headlining the entertainment for this year's Beerfest Asia are girl band Lez Zeppelin (far left). Festivalgoers can also taste the Atlas Co. Hard Apricot Cider (left), which is exclusive to the event.PHOTOS: BEERFEST ASIA, DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Samples at $1 to $2 will allow festivalgoers to try out what they like before buying

Beer-lovers will find even more reason to attend this year's Beerfest Asia, with beer sampling being offered for the first time.

Sampling portions of 50ml or 70ml will be available at $1 to $2 each. There will be about 400 tipples available. More than 100 are new to the event.

"We received a lot of feedback from past visitors saying that they want to sample as many beers as humanly possible. The sampling will allow festivalgoers to do just that," says Ms Low Seow Yee, music and marketing manager of co-organiser Timbre Group. "It is all about the discovery and experimentation culture we want to promote at the festival."

Beerfest Asia is in its seventh edition this year. It will be held from June 25 to 28 at the Marina Promenade.

The event is 80 per cent owned by Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings. Its partner is music lifestyle company Timbre Group.

Accounts manager Sally Sha, who was at Beerfest for the first time last year, likes the idea of being able to sample beers.

"It is good because I can know which beers I like before buying them, especially since there are so many of them to choose from," says the 25-year-old, a social drinker who drinks about once a fortnight.

"I tried only about five beers last year. So the sampling will let me try many more beers on offer."

Organisers are expecting a turnout of 32,000, which would make this year's Beerfest Asia the biggest so far. Some 30,000 people attended last year's event. The first Beerfest in 2009 attracted about 18,000 people.

This time around, some of the beers exclusive to the event are Atlas Co. Hard Apricot Cider, which is an off-dry cider from The Mad Tapper, and the aromatic Grolsch from SAB Miller and 6DM.

Although the market for specialty beers here is a fledgling one, the exhibitors feel there is potential.

"Singapore's market is very curious, in a way. Consumers want to go away from the mainstream, but Singapore is still a very young beer-drinking market," says Mr Jan-Peer Lehfeldt, director for business development at Chaoying Hospitality Group, which imports German Flensburger beer. He compares this to other countries with a long- standing beer-drinking culture.

"The barrier to entry for a new beer is relatively high, with the high costs of ingredients and hefty alcohol duties," says Ms Emily Yeo, director of Wunderbar, a year-old company that brings in both draft and bottled beers from Germany.

She adds: "But what is heartening is that the discerning beer-drinking crowd in Singapore is increasing steadily - they know what they want and we're here to give it to them."

Even as the market is saturated with the dominance of a few big players, "there is always room for a high-end niche German beer like Veltins to come in", says Mr Roger Stadler, director of BeerCellar Asia, which imports beer from the family-owned Veltins, one of the 10 largest breweries in Germany.

The Mad Tapper, a craft cider distribution company founded this year, will make its debut at the upcoming Beerfest.

Co-founder Kasster Soh says: "The main reason was Beerfest's reputation for being a renowned platform for promoting new, exciting products.

"The fact that we can access a high volume of discerning consumers in such a short span of time made it an easy decision to participate in this year's Beerfest."

Besides plenty of booze, the festival is also not short on entertainment.

Widely acclaimed all-girl group Lez Zeppelin, a tribute act to the influential rock band Led Zeppelin, lead the line-up of tribute bands this year.

Other musicians to take the stage include AbbaFab, The Australian Blues Brothers & Soul Sisters and local acts such as the Rock Rosettes, performing their first tribute to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

The Singapore-Malaysia Comedy Cup will also make a return. Local comedians Fakkah Fuzz and Jinx Yeo will face off against Kavin Jay and Rizal van Geyzel from across the Causeway.

Australian funnymen Patrick McCullagh and Jonathan Atherton are also on the performance list.

New to this year's Beerfest is a panel show where six comedians will be split into two teams. Armed with only their wits, they will attempt to win the crowd over.

For families with children, those under 12 can play in the Brew Kids Playard on June 28 for free. The recreation room features a bouncy castle, arts and crafts activities and games.

Mr Javier Liauw, a 24-year-old engineering student from Nanyang Technological University, has attended the past three editions of Beerfest. He says the most enjoyable part of the event is the party atmosphere.

He adds: "There's a wide range of beer every year and you get to try everything, so this is a must-go event every year for beer-lovers like me."

mzlim@sph.com.sg