Made With Passion: Brothers inspired by uncle's home-made beers to set up 1925 Brewing Co

SINGAPORE – For brothers Yeo Eng Kuang and Ivan Yeo, the idea that inspired their successful microbrewery and restaurant business 1925 Brewing Co was first sparked at the family’s dining table where they would gather every week.

Years later, these fond memories of dinners spent sipping on their uncle’s home-brewed beer and dining on authentic Teochew cuisine have spurred them to build and grow their business.

The brothers named their business 1925 Brewing Co as 1925 was the birth year of the family patriarch Yeo Kim Ho, who was a dry goods grocer.

“At the time, it was definitely a risky move. Our family was concerned, especially when the food and beverage business was so volatile,” Mr Yeo Eng Kuang, 35, told The Straits Times.

The business was founded by the Yeo brothers and their uncle Yeo King Joey back in November 2013. They were on Friday (Nov 20) one of the 48 pioneer recipients of the “Made With Passion” Singapore brand mark. The mark has been awarded to a selection of local lifestyle brands to highlight their strong connection to Singapore, as well as cast a spotlight on the stories behind these brands.

In May 2014, the Yeo brothers first began restaurant operations in what Mr Yeo Eng Kuang now describes as a “hole-in-the-wall” two-storey shophouse in the Jalan Besar neighbourhood.

Mr Ivan Yeo, 39, took charge of the restaurant side of things after quitting his job in the design industry, while Mr Yeo Eng Kuang and his uncle took charge of brewing the beer. Together, they developed a menu that showcased the vibrant flavours of traditional Teochew dishes, and paired it with craft beer that they brewed on-site.

“My brother was no top chef, and had to learn things from scratch,” said Mr Yeo Eng Kuang. “Brewing beer was also a learning process, but we’ve gained experience over time. Now it only takes us a month or two to develop one of our collections, as we have a much deeper understanding of all the ingredients we use.”

As their brews grew in popularity over the years – both locally and in Asia – the family ended up re-locating their brewery operations to a larger facility in Mandai Link in 2018. The brothers also operate a tap room at Joo Chiat, where Mr Ivan Yeo runs the kitchen as its head chef.

Their Mandai facility is now able to produce up to 24,000 bottles of beer – including its bestselling local-themed Liang Teh Lager, Yellow Van Pale Ale and Kaya Toast Stout.

The signature Liang Teh beer from 1925 Brewing Co. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr Yeo Eng Kuang has since quit his job as an auditor, and now invests all his energy researching and developing new beers and exploring collaborations with other brands.

“Of course, quitting meant giving up a lot of stability, job security-wise, and it was pretty crazy to do that during the Covid-19 period. This business used to be a side hustle, but I’ve now poured all my energy into it,” he said.

“The timing was right and I just thought – if not now, when?”

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