Afternoons With Niang Brewery - 6 Reviews
Singapore's Niang Brewery stands out at the very least with their trippy colorful labels and the intriguing names they give their expressions, and if not, certainly for their pretty consistent and wide array of craft beer styles amongst the local craft beer community.
Today, I get down to trying a set of 6 randomly selected beers from the local craft beer brand.
For starters, it was certainly quite amusing to me that the night before I got these, I was attempting to find a way to try all 7 of their current lineup. Unfortunately, the best I could do was a variety 6-pack where it was left to the folks behind Niang to assemble the lineup I was getting.
It was quite cutely named the Giap Giap Curious Cat bundle - Giap Giap being the sound a claw machine makes as it tries to retrieve the toy you're wrangling from the machine. I'm also a sucker for cats, so it's just as well.
The very next day, I get a text from Mark Chen, the founder of Niang, saying he'll have the bottles over between 10 and 12 PM, nothing out of the ordinary - the turnaround time was certainly appreciated.
When the clock struck 10.45 AM, I got a ring, and a man passes me the pack of beers. I later get another text from Mark saying it was nice to meet me. I would've thought he'd hire a courier or something, but no he actually delivered it himself. Now, I don't want to set the bar high for Niang that you should expect right at the door next day delivery from the founder himself, but I certainly thought it was kinda funny.
In any case, the 6-pack I got consisted of:
- Confection Cure (Pale Ale | 5.2% ABV)
- Party Hotline (Chinook / Nelson Sauvin / Citra | 5.6% ABV)
- Magic Farm (Session IPA | 4.5% ABV)
- Foliage Voyage (Kolsch-Style Ale | 4.5% ABV)
- Warming Spirit (Saison Ale | 6.3% ABV)
- Forbidden Ballad (West Coast IPA | 6.5% ABV)
Let's get to it.
Confection Cure (Pale Ale | 5.2% ABV)
This Pale Ale is supposedly inspired by the Singaporean traditional Chinese dessert Cheng Tng, which is a dessert soup containing molasses, red dates and longan.
Cheng Tng. (Image Source: Share Food Singapore)
The suggested flavor pairings are Roasted Pork (Sio Bak), Teochew Braised Duck (Lor Ark), Margherita Pizza and Chocolate Truffle Cake.
Color: Brown Amber
Aroma: Malty and honeyed - it has a syrupy viscosity to its aromas. Mango, grapefruit, and a more herbaceous manuka honey. It's sweet and malty, with an overall darker profile, and yet quite clean, and not all that hoppy.
Taste: Clean on the palate - malty and honeyed still, but now with a light hoppiness. There's good balance with light carbonation and is medium bodied.
Finish: Finishes off clean, with more malted barley and slightly more bitterness now. There's a lingering aftertaste of brown rice.
My Rating: 🤙
This is clean easy drinking, it's not too complex (does everything have to be complex?), really smooth with a good balance, good heft and creaminess, not gao as local Singaporeans would say (not cloyingly decadent). It's a great all rounder, easy for beginners - all in, very enjoyable.
Party Hotline (Chinook / Nelson Sauvin / Citra | 5.6% ABV)
This one is part of the Wild series, taking inspiration from a sense of growing mushrooms in our head (hmm..@CharSiuChalie seems to relate though), and seems to be a combination of several hops, as stated on the label - Chinook, Nelson Sauvin and the ever popular Citra.
The suggested food pairings are Tandoori Chicken, Pork Belly Mango Salad, Foie Gras Sourdough, Smoked Banana Tart.
Color: Yellow Golden
Aroma: Bright citrusy pineapple, grapefruit, with just a touch of light wheatiness.
Taste: A good creaminess, with some light carbonation. It's malty with honey, quite bright and fresh, with more on light grapefruit citrus, grapefruit rinds - a little more vegetal, and faint notes of lemon sherbet.
Finish: Clean, malty, ending with a light grapefruit bitterness.
My Rating: 💆♀️
Two for two - very enjoyable again. This is clean, creamy, with a really nice balance of fruity citrus, maltiness and bitterness - none overpowering. It's easy drinking and not too much of a head scratcher.
Magic Farm (Session IPA | 4.5% ABV)
This Session IPA is apparently inspired by a couple's love for the outdoors, and hence was meant to give picnic and hiking vibes.
Flavor pairings provided are Beer Duck Prata Pizza (I have not heard of this, but I really want to try it), Bee Hoon with Ngoh Hiang, Breakfast Sandwich and Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Color: Hazy Pineapple Juice
Aroma: Very tropical! Pineapples and mangoes, and then with a slight greenness - fresh crunchy greens.
Taste: More juicy mangoes and pineapples. It does get more malty, quite hefty and creamy as well. This is not very bitter at all. And then just a hint of Lotus speculoos biscuits.
Finish: Ooooh yogurt with mango cubes!
My Rating: 😘
This started out fairly standard issue - classic tropical, juicy IPA. But then towards the finish is where the real magic occurs! There's this sudden emergence of creamy (sweetened) yogurt with mango cubes! It has a full-bodied creamy milkiness topped with more apparent mangoes.
I really like the finish! As it recedes theres no bitterness but it becomes more creamy and fruity, which was just lovely. I really, really like this.
Foliage Voyage (Kolsch-Style Ale | 4.5% ABV)
This one's inspired by a love story in Greek mythology - the Hellespont swim. The story goes accordingly like this - "Leander used to swim across the Black Sea to the Aegean every night to see his lover Hero. Just like Leander, the Sea Nymph would swim miles across the sea to see his love, the Mountain Fairy."
Hmm, not sufficiently a man of Greek culture, I'll just have to focus on the beer instead.
The suggest flavor pairings here are Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle, Ika Geso Karaage, Flame Grilled Turbot, Simple Lemon Cake.
Color: Mango Juice
Aroma: Really fresh - pomelo and grapefruit, a mildly sweet and yet green fruitiness. There's distinct hoppiness, and then it gets more citrusy still.
Taste: Raw barley initially, and then a very peculiar sensation that I can only sort of describe as zappy on the tongue. The closest thing I can liken it to is the taste of isotonic drinks. It's more a sensation than anything - almost like a wall that just stops your palate short right there.
Let's go again, getting through that zappy wall, we get very light notes of honey, light bitterness and still that same fizziness - really more textural than anything.
Finish: More malt barley and a light marmite bitterness. Lingering bits of brown rice and a bread doughiness.
My Rating: 🤔
This one is kinda strange - on the palate you get stopped short by this very front and center isotonic taste that zaps your palate and cuts the experience right there. Like running into a wall. That said, the nose is quite hoppy but distinctively fresh, and the finish was really complex. So... we don't know what to think. We like the aromas and finish a lot but the palate's just abit perplexing. Try it though, would love to hear everyone's thoughts.
Warming Spirit (Saison Ale | 6.3% ABV)
This Saison Ale takes its cue from fresh spices native to Singapore that underpins local dishes.
The flavour pairings suggested for this label is stir-fried lala clams, claypot curry fish head, burnt cheese cake and lemon tart.
Color: Dark Gold
Aroma: Initial notes of coffee. It's quite musky, with a combination of lemongrass, cedar oak, a grassiness, with more greenness of pomelo rind - alittle bit like a reed diffuser. This extends to a herbaceous bit of dill.
Taste: More coffee here, honey and malty as well - think Crunchie honeycomb chocolate bar. It's creamy, ginger spicy, and with more herbaceousness.
Finish: Short, clean, with just a light puff of honey and malt, ending with light herbs.
My Rating: 💥
Very interesting and complex - it is at once very malty and aromatic and yet spicy. This one probably stood out the most to us as a beer that would really go well as a good pairing. It somehow reminds us of teh halia - ginger milk tea. The coffee note is really and aromatic and was a really nice surprise at how aromatic and punctuated it was.
Forbidden Ballad (West Coast IPA | 6.5% ABV)
A West Coast IPA - which should forewarn us that it's going to be a bitter one. It is inspired by Niang's founder's experiences as a kid of being told not to go to the backyard of his grandmother's house, which led to him believing that there were spirits from a forbidden garden in the backyard surrounding a mango tree.
This is therefore supposedly built around creating a forest profile. Suggested food pairings here are Charcoal Grilled Pork Ribs, Sambal Stingray, Satay Beehoon, Walnut Carrot Cake.
Color: Deep Gold
Aroma: This is very citrusy, more tartness and yet concentrated estery sweetness of pineapple puree, dried apricot and 7D mango. Thick and creamy.
Taste: As the aromas suggested, more mangoes and dried apricots, with a fresh breezy pine note, and an extended tartness.
Finish: Malted barley, a sort of raw farmhouse quality.
My Rating: 🏖
Pretty classic fruity IPA, with more on dried fruits rather than fresh fruits - a nice take overall. I'm not sure if it fits the bill of a West Coast IPA as it really wasn't bitter at all nor particularly dry. I did nonetheless enjoy it, classifications aside. It's straightforward, again clean, easy drinking.
A whole mixed carton of Niang brews in, I'm getting the sense that Niang's beers are all generally very sessionable, easy straightforward drinking. They've all got a good creaminess and heftiness, are all quite fruity, some with a twist more complexity than others, but really I had a good time with most of them. I'm really impressed with how wide a variety of styles they offer, the labels and storylines are great as well, although I've yet to try pairing them with food.
The two standouts for us were Magic Farm IPA (which I thought had an incredible finish) and Confection Cure Pale Ale (@CharSiuCharlie thought this was very big and juicy). The Warming Spirit Saison Ale was also very interesting with more dimensions to its profile - that nice gingery kick! And then the Party Hotline and Forbidden Ballad were good, clean, easy drinkers. The Foliage Voyage was alittle bit peculiar on the palate with this zappy sensation but had a great aroma and finish.
So all in, what's our take? You can't really go wrong with Niang Brewery, and with their many labels and styles, you're going to have a great time. Definitely a solid choice, we haven't had one bad pick!
@111hotpot & @CharsiuCharlie
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