Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Give that man a beer, it's Tiger Time" - the Singapore beer

There is one beer that most Singaporean guys wouldn’t touch. Incidentally, that’s the local beer – Tiger. Not that Tiger is lacking in its marketing efforts. In fact, the ‘It’s Tiger Time!’ jingle still rings at the back of my mind every now and then.

Interestingly, its Tiger’s monopoly in army camps that did it in. For two and the half years (presently only two years), all able bodied Singaporean guys, still in their late teens, are ‘initiated’ into their unit with one drink and one drink only. Tiger, being the cheaper of the only two alcohol available in most messes (the other being Guinness Stout, which cost twice as much), has always been the natural choice.


The more common initiation would be the famed ‘screwdriver’, where the senior would pierce the thin aluminum casing of a very well shaken Tiger beer and shove it on the newcomer’s mouth before pull the can’s tab. If you are lucky, you might not catch most of the gush but you’ll invariably have beer oozing out of your nose for the next couple of minutes. Not the most pleasant experience I must say.

But that’s not the reason why we avoid Tiger. Well, at a mere S$1 per can, it was dirt cheap even with our measly allowance more than a decade ago. Cheaper beer merely means that its quality is in doubt. I was told by my bunk mate that it has something to do with the brewing process – the better quality ones are sold at supermarkets and the rest, well, straight to army messes. As a result of which, Tiger was branded as the poor man’s beer when we left the army.

I was at Brown’s the other day with some colleagues and was about to ask for Heineken until I caught a glimpse of the familiar Tiger bottle in the fridge behind the bar.

“A Tiger please,” I handed over a tenner. The lady came back with a bottle and a fiver. Five quid for a small bottle. That’s something to reckon with.

As I was nursing my Tiger (I know how that sounds), I began telling my colleagues about how we avoid Tiger back home.

“Really? He loves Tiger!” one of them pointed to my colleague who hails from Vienna. Apparently, Tiger is making inroads into the European market and is being marketed as the exotic beer from the far east. In fact, I chanced upon a Singaporean design exhibition in Venice organised by Tiger where all visitors were handed a bottle of Tiger when I was there two years back. To be honest, the one that I had was smooth and feels easy to the throat – nothing like the one that we had back in the army.

One thing’s for sure, I’ll be ditching the green bottle for the dark brown one the next time at the local pub.

What's your favourite poison? Have you ever tried a Tiger? How did you find it?

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Anonymous said...

the Tiger brewed overseas is supposed to be better than the one brewed in SG.

don't even get started on the Tiger you get in NS.....

Chris said...

Tiger is a good German-style lager as sold here in London. I don't drink much beer nowadays, but Tiger tastes better than most of the homegrown lagers.

Interestingly, Americans abroad have the same reaction to American Budweiser. I am always appalled when Bud is sold and consumed here. It is weak, tastes of virtually nothing, and only serves to clean out your kidneys. But Americans here often drink Budweiser just for sentimental reasons. If I drink, it's for the taste, not for sentiment.

drcrab said...

hi CK!
Dan usually orders a Tiger when we're at home... and if we're in a pub/restaurant that does Tiger, he'll order it and say that it's a Sg beer (which then makes the other friends order too!)..!

C K said...

I didn't check out where the one that I had was brewed but I am under the impression that even for the ones brewed in S'pore, they come in different quality.

Ah, I'm not sure that applies for Singaporeans and their Tiger. Given a choice, they'll avoid it at all costs. :)

Well, that might just change if Tiger ups its game in the army barracks.

Nothing like the exotic beer from the far east. :)

What's your favorite then?

Karin said...

nice to know we're the opposite of the Irish (and Germans, and practically any other beer-making country): we keep the rubbish stuff for our own people and export the good stuff. Everyone else keeps the good stuff and exports the rubbish (eg. guinness)

In any case, I had this experience once when I was in Tanzania drinking "Kilimanjaro" beer only to note that it tasted exactly like Tiger. Exotic my arse...

C K said...

lol, but I was told that the Tiger sold outside of barracks back home taste a whole lot better than those sold within. If you don't find the one that you got to your liking, imagine what army personnel are exposed to!