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Beer Reviews

Only Fun Asian Rice Lager, Niang Brewery Co


I am a sucker for rice lagers. And I'll admit it's alittle bit of an acquired taste - but all that means to me is that it's really distinctive, which is how a certain style or brewery makes its mark! It's like a signature, it's got to be unique, which by definition can sometimes mean it's not for everybody.

But with that said, I do like to believe that Asians have a soft spot for rice lagers, isn't it our bread and butter after all?

And so - I swear to god - by total coincidence, on the back of my last review of Singapore's Niang Brewery's Jungle Bill West Coast IPA (which was great by the way), I was told that a rice lager was in store, which prompted a second trip to a nearby taphouse. 

You know you're going alittle too often when the nice lady behind the counter says "back again?" with a big smile. Yes, I am for that matter back again, kind lady - back for that rice lager. (I jest, whoever you are at Almost Famous, you're very nice!)


A new record - before the billboard's even done sketching!


In any case, Niang Brewery just got their new Asian Rice Lager named "Only Fun" (which is a pun on the word "饭", pronounced "Fan" or "Fhan" with an emphasis on the "-an", which is another way to say rice in Mandarin Chinese) on tap and I was told I was second to have a crack at it.

Quick Intro: Niang Brewery is a cuckoo brewer in Singapore, whose work I am quite the fan of, and is conspicuous for their trippy labels and well-devised names that often capture the local zeitgeist. Oh also they stand out for always providing food pairings with their beers.

Niang Brewery says that this was made with a blend of Thai Jasmine and Junsuina Japanese Pearl Rice, and the suggested food pairing here is roasted barramundi / grouper, thunderbolt tea rice, aburi salmon with aioli rice bowl and mango sticky rice.

Let's go! 

Only Fun Asian Rice Lager, Niang Brewery Co - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Light Gold

Aroma: Light starchy, chewy, nutty mix of cooked and unwashed rice, with a side of gentle honey sweetness. More on rice crackers and Meiji wheat biscuits. Light flecks of jasmine florals.

Taste: Really smooth, rounded and mellow, with a silkier than usual body - almost buttery. Vague white florals, which sometimes come across as fresh linen. Soft bread doughy sweetness with a light savouriness that turns ever so slightly bitter. Almost a little crispy - think rice krispies.

Finish: Lots of sweet, chewy, glutinous rice and also more of the nuttiness of unwashed rice, before lingering notes of gentle bitterness with a lightly drying quality. Still very buttery in texture.


My Thoughts

I should caveat I’m a big fan of rice lagers - something about the sweet, chewy starchiness and nuttiness that is a mix of glutinous rice and unwashed rice always gets me! Might be the Asian in me haha!

So for me the name of the game with rice lagers is to really bring out that palette of aromas and flavours to be as heightened as possible and as true to form as the real thing as possible - whilst not getting too drying.

And on those metrics, I wasn’t disappointed! This had great aromas, although not pungent, and also delivered in spades on the finish with those lovely chewy sweetness and nuttiness of glutinous and uncooked rice. All whilst not being too dry, bitter or puckering! 

But I think what stands out here is how buttery in texture it was on the palate, which is where it pulls ahead of your usual rice lagers which can get rather thin.

If I was hardpressed for something to bring this up a notch, I’d ask for more honeyed sweetness on the palate - though that might be too sweet for most folks, go figure.

Solid stuff!

Available at Niang Brewery by the bottle, and Almost Famous on tap, sighted and tasted by yours truly.