I mentioned in Monday Reading that I spent most of last week in Singapore. I was going to try and get a bit of insight into the local beer scene and here it is: Heineken and Tiger Beer. With the exception of an unbranded IPA I picked up at the Highlander in Clarke Quay and a handful of AB-Inbevs at Urban Fairways, Heineken and Tiger made up 90% of my beer diet last week.
Tiger Beer of Singapore and Malaysia shares a lot in common with the likes of Bintang (Indonesia) – a stablemate at Asia Pacific Breweries, which is in turn owned by Heineken – and Chang (Thailand). They are all lightish coloured lagers, offering a vague sense of nationalism, minimal flavour and maximum refreshment. Actually, in that sense, Tiger Beer is pretty much like any other mass produced lager.
The marketing is interesting. A visit to the international Tiger Beer website and it’s difficult to find any details about the beer itself. The copy reads:
Brewed since 1932, Tiger Beer is now available in more than 60 countries, winning over drinkers in major cities around the world. Over the years, we have undergone many transformations while remaining true to our brand’s rich heritage, traditions and taste…
A lot goes into every bottle of Tiger. The finest malt, hops and yeast. Taste-testing over 10 samples of water every day. Over 200 quality checks. It’s all part of a strict brewing process that takes over 500 hours. Little wonder that Tiger has garnered over 40 international awards to date
You’ll note that there are no mentions of:
- Where specifically the beer is brewed (presumably Singapore)
- What kind of beer it is (lager)
- Whether it actually tastes any good (more or less yes)
Tiger Beer is a presented as a microcosm of the city that spawned it: brought to this part of the world by Europeans, modified by the locals, exported to the world and is aspirational in outlook. In a country where a beer out and about can cost anywhere from S$15 to S$22 (or S$60 for a 3.9L tower, see right), the marketing has to cut through the price barriers to get people to actually buy it. The details of breweries, IBUs and EBCs are important.
And of what of the beer itself? I only had a basic hotel beer glass at my disposal but I suppose it was better than drinking straight from the can, like a Neanderthal. Serving suggestion on the can is an admirable 2-4°C, which is about hotel bar fridge temperature.
The pour was pretty straightforward. This is not a highly carbonated beer and has poorer head retention compared to the lagers in Australia. It’s a touch more golden than most and has a bit of malty aroma. Unlike XXXX, this is a pleasant pale malt, more in line with a beer geek’s expectations. I don’t note any traces of hops and the bitterness is barely detectable.
I guess when you’ve been walking around in year-round 30°C day time temps with 90% humidity, refreshment with a watery, light bodied and low carbonated beer is more important than blowing away your palette with a metric ton of hoppy flavours or overloading your stomach with a heavy dose of grainy malts. In this sense, Tiger Beer is about a good a beer for Singapore as you could probably hope for, assuming you can afford it.
Tiger Beer is not that interesting but it’s far from terrible. If I was offered a line-up of international macro lagers at no cost to myself, Tiger would be one of my first selections but maybe just outside my top 100 from any beer lineup.
- Genre: Lager
- Regionality: Singapore
- Strength: 5%
- Rating: 1.5 / 3 taste + 1.5 / 2 ancillaries = 3 / 5
- Plus: Refreshment
- Minus: Generic