New Writing: Malaya Beer History

I’m pleased to announce that my newest paper,An Outline on Beers and Brewing in British Malaya: 1827-1957. Part I has just been appeared in issue #184 of Brewery History.

It runs some 12,000 words, and should interest many in beer circles and perhaps beyond. Part I covers 1827 until 1939.

The second part, to appear later, will cover 1940-1957. A précis follows below for Part I.



(Image above: Weld Quay, George Town, Penang, 1910).

After providing historical and demographic background, I examine:

  • The propensity for beer of the main communities in Malaya (today Malaysia and Republic of Singapore).

  • The kaleidoscope of brands imported, from Britain, Europe, elsewhere.

  • The establishment of two breweries in Singapore in the early 1930s.

  • Characteristics of their brewing (for Tiger, etc.), and advertising strategies.

  • Typical resorts for beer, including the famed Raffles Hotel just ahead of the cataclysmic invasion by Imperial Japan.

I deconstruct as well the little-known Bass Purple Triangle Ale, a Bass export bottling promoted with verve in 1920s Malaya. The provision of beer by the N.A.A.F.I., caterer to H.M. Forces, is also reviewed. An interesting angle emerges viz. the Royal Air Force.

In sum, apart the facts and figures, some rather compelling sociocultural history arises from the study.

Below is a sample advert for the rare Bass Purple Triangle, in this case from the Australian press, April 28, 1924 (Townsville Daily Bulletin, Queensland).



The journal Brewery History is print-only for three years from publication. To subscribe, follow this link.

Note re images: first image, indicated as public domain, was sourced from the Wikipedia entry, “History of Penang”, here. Second image was sourced from the Trove digital archive, as linked in the text. All intellectual property in each belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Images used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.


3 thoughts on “New Writing: Malaya Beer History”

  1. One thing I’ve wondered about brewing in the tropics in the old days is how they managed cooling. I assume they weren’t making beers with the kinds of effects you get from Belgian yeasts at high temperatures.

    • Thanks for this. By the 1930s though refrigeration was well established in new breweries, they had no issues with that. Earlier it was a different story, Australia is a good case in point where lager development was inhibited in the later 1800s due to still perfecting such cooling. But by the 1930s there were no unusual issues.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: