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Leaving a job for passion: IT industry to microbrewery

Leaving a job for passion: IT industry to microbrewery
Greg Brown.
PHOTO: Thirty Six Brewlab & Smokehouse

When he was 27, Greg Brown discovered his passion for brewing. He did not realise it at the time; he was a high-flyer in enterprise IT in London and had decided to relieve stress by trying home brewing.

While it started as a hobby, he was soon allured by how the craft melded art and science, and both his logical and creative sides, into one. Thus, when the opportunity to turn his hobby into a career presented itself, Greg seized it and has not looked back since.

On 12 to 1, Adrian Abraham spoke to Greg Brown, Head Brewer at Thirty Six Brewlab and Smokehouse about how he ended up in Singapore after pursuing his passion, and how the Republic's craft beer scene compares to the rest of the world.

Adrian Abraham: When did you realise your passion for brewing? I understand that it started as a hobby, so what is the earliest memory that you can recall?

Greg Brown: Like most brewers, I first got the bug for homebrewing. I started getting interested around 2005, back in the United Kingdom (UK) where I was living then - and where homebrewing was pretty big as well.

So, my earliest memories were getting the homebrewing kit from Wilko along with a bucket that I then placed in my cupboard. Essentially, I made some good beers – and some not-so-good beers – sitting right next to my hot water service.

And during Christmas, I started making beers for some mates of mine. I had a friend who was Scottish, so I made him a whiskey-inspired beer, and barbecue-flavoured beer for another friend who was South African.

When the craft beer scene in the UK started to kick off, it gave an impetus to the thought that there was something more to this. With my background in IT, I saw similarities between the two [fields] such as the curiosity and Science aspect. And seeing it from this perspective piqued my interest as well.

AA: You had a comfortable job, but your hobby took the front seat and that led to the decision for you to quit. So, why would you quit your job?

GB: That is exactly why – it was a job. But what I do now is my passion, it does not feel like a job. I go in every day with a smile on my face and I get to do something that I am passionate about. It is a real privilege to be able to do what I do. So the answer is in the question, it is not a job.

I left also because we get very few opportunities in our working life to seize the moment, and we have to cross the Rubicon when the opportunity presents itself.

AA: In 2015, you had the option of moving to New York or Singapore and you picked the latter. Why did you decide on coming here rather than New York?

GB: I had options and I needed to look at them both. New York was in a way very similar to London in terms of the cultural aspect and environment. Singapore, on the other hand, was the unknown and I was curious.

I have called at Singapore a lot, while on the way back to Australia to visit my family, and have always enjoyed my stopovers here. But l always had the feeling that there was more to discover about the place - an exciting element of the unknown.

Upon landing here, I saw the wealth of culture and food along with the conviviality of the people which, really was one of my biggest discoveries here.

AA: What has been the best part about following your passion and leaving a comfortable job to do what you do now?

GB: I think the best part is leaving with the opportunity to move into something that I am passionate about. As I mentioned earlier, it does not feel like a job to me.

I love the fact that I get to be creative, utilise curiosity, and get to engage with customers by talking to them about beers. There are just so many facets to it. IT, however, might make you feel a bit isolated at times since you are mostly in the server rooms.

In here [the brewery], you get to see the topic of beers being used in conversations and you get to interact with people in an environment that feels relaxed. I am doing something that brings happiness and joy to someone else and that is rewarding to me.

AA: Do you have any regrets [about moving to Singapore and starting the business here]?

GB: I have no regrets at all.

But if I were to have one regret, it would be that I did not start earlier. I wish I had done this 10 years ago because it really is such an amazing profession to be in.

I am so fortunate to have this opportunity, particularly in Singapore, where the craft beer environment is upcoming and well-received. There is also a good sense of community here and it is truly a great place to be brewing in.

Listen to the full podcast on Awedio: SPH's free digital audio streaming service, to find out more about Greg’s personal favourites and a certain occasion that involved dropping a whole birthday cake into one of his brews.

Download the podcast.

This article was first published in MONEY FM 89.3.

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