New Writing on Malaya Beer History

My newest paper,An Outline on Beers and Brewing in British Malaya: 1827-1957. Part I has just appeared in issue #184 of the journal Brewery History.

Running some 12,000 words, the paper should interest many in beer circles and perhaps beyond. Part I deals with the period 1827 until 1939. The second part, to appear next year, will cover 1940-1957.


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

Part I, after outlining historical and demographic background, addresses:

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

  • the kaleidoscope of brands imported to Malaya from Britain, Europe, and elsewhere

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

  • characteristics of brewing for Tiger Beer and advertising strategies for Tiger and Anchor beers

  • the typical resorts for beer including the famed Raffles Hotel just ahead of the cataclysmic invasion by Japan

As well, I deconstruct the little-known Bass Purple Triangle, an export bottling given particular attention by Bass in 1920s Malaya. I also review the provision of beer by the N.A.A.F.I., caterer to H.M. Forces, with an interesting angle for the Royal Air Force.

Along with lists of beers and statistics on sources and types of beer consumed, some rather compelling socio-cultural history emerges.

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



Brewery History is print-only for three years from publication. To subscribe, see information in 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 on 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.


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