SINGAPORE - Cantopop, trance and 90s hits. No, this was not a random playlist left on shuffle. Rather, this mishmash of genres was part of the music line-up at the recently concluded Beerfest Asia.
Over four nights from June 27 to 30 at the Marina Promenade, a pop-up tent called Ignition at the annual beer festival played different music themed to each night. For instance, Throwback Thursday was 90s music, while Sunday night saw attendees singing along to Cantonese pop hits.
The tentage also featured laser lighting in partnership with events and production company Unusual Productions and was one of many firsts introduced this year to grow Beerfest Asia's versatility, said Mr Chua Wee Phong, executive chairman of Sphere Exhibits, which organises the festival.
Ramping up the music element in the entertainment line-up will figure largely in future events, he added. This year, the company also brought in two international DJs.
"We will always add on new content. Like any other event, it gets stale after two or three years."
Beerfest Asia has enjoyed steady growth since its conception in 2008 by homegrown lifestyle company Timbre Group. Sphere Exhibits entered as organising partners in 2010, before taking a majority stake of the festival in 2016.
This year's event saw around 37,000 attendees, up from 36,500 in 2018.
Another new initiative this year was the Beerfest Run. Priced at $80 per person, the ticketed fringe event took participants on a 2km route around the Beerfest Asia grounds. At pit stops on the route, runners were given beers in 150ml portions.
The ticket included admission to Beerfest Asia, a runner's tee, a finisher mug, and as many beers as you could drink along the way.
The inaugural edition was capped at 250 participants, of which 40 per cent were women.
"Everybody loved it; people were chatting and running and having a lot of fun," Mr Chua, 58, said, adding that the run created a camaraderie reminiscent of his army days.
It has been a game of trial and error to develop the best combination of food offerings, entertainment and venue for Beerfest Asia, he noted.
Over the years, the organising team has tried various fringe activities to "introduce more life into the entire event" - such as beer workshops, stand-up comedy shows and live football matches.
For food, they have catered from the likes of Harry's Bar and Chinese restaurant Peach Garden. This year's key partner was catering company Neo Group and other local vendors included seafood restaurant Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong.
This year's venue saw a return to Marina Promenade, near the F1 Pit Building, which has hosted every edition of the festival up to 2016. The organisers tested waters at Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
"When we started in 2008, it was just the excitement of a lot of beers (in one place) with a band playing. Over the years it has morphed into very different combinations as we started playing around with things," Mr Chua added.
Aside from diversifying offerings locally, the festival is also expanding abroad and is now officially in six cities. It held its first overseas edition in Shandong, China in October 2018. In August, there will be editions in Chengdu and Dongxing. Next August, there is one planned for Bali, Indonesia.
The overseas editions will run in the same format, but on a smaller scale and with localised entertainment, said Mr Chua. Beerfest Asia is also currently in talks with tourism boards in the Middle East to bring the festival there.
The Sphere Exhibits team is confident about the festival's continued evolution.
"In the past, (other major events) died along the way after a few years because they couldn't make money," said Mr Chua.
"Beyond government-sponsored events, we are (probably) now the only commercial festival surviving in Singapore that can draw more than 10,000 people."
AND THE BEER OSCAR GOES TO...
Beerfest Asia 2019 saw a gathering of 600 different beers from local and international exhibitors. Six hundred brews later, the following beers have emerged as winners:
Best of Singapore: Lion City Meadery Spiced Mead by Lion City Meadery
Homegrown meadery Lion City Meadery's Spiced Mead is an homage to masala chai in beer form. Spices like cinnamon, cloves and star anise were roasted and fermented together with eucalyptus honey for a clear blonde mead with 5.5% ABV.
Best of Festival: Brewlander Grace by Brewlander & Co.
This crisp, light Kolsch from Singaporean brewer John Wei of Brewlander & Co. is one for the tea drinkers. Infused with the flavours of lychee red tea, the 4.5% ABV beer has both refreshing floral notes and the soothing aromas of Chinese tea. A graceful brew, just like her name.
Best of Asia: Classic Pale Ale by Young Master Brewery
For an easy-drinking brew any time of the day, Hong Kong label Young Master Brewery's 5.0% Classic Pale Ale hits the spot. North American and Australian hops were used to create a balance of malty richness and hoppiness, finished with fruity and floral notes perfect for the weather.