Sukij Thipatima is an energetic young entrepreneur who has initiated amazing innovations at his recently-opened Full Moon Brew Work micro- brewery and pub located behind the big Chinese junk in Patong’s Junceylon.
Baz Daniel dropped by for a chat and a pint.
I grew up in Bangkok and when I was sixteen I started to slip out of my parent’s house at night and join my friends exploring the city’s clubs and bars. I was immediately fascinated by this demi-monde and the fact that one could enjoy all sorts of drinks in a sophisticated and tasteful way. I learned that beer, wine and spirits could be drunk selectively and provided excellent complements to good food, conversation and socializing and decided that I
loved this world. My parents didn’t drink and so they thought this behavior was to be discouraged, but somehow it didn’t matter to me as I had found my passion in life.
I went to the ‘States to study and while I was in Greensboro in North Carolina I took a bar tending course and then obtained a job in the bar in the Sheraton Hotel and learned the trade through ‘hands on’ experience.
I then managed to get a job back in Thailand as a management trainee in Heineken’s marketing department and I persuaded the owner to let me spend six months working in the brewery itself, brewing the beer. This solidified my passion for the world of beer and taught me a lot about the processes of brewing.
I then joined Diageo in their new products group and later became the brand manager for Smirnoff in Thailand. All this experience stimulated me to think about actually going out on my own and following my dream of pioneering the brewing of ‘east meets west’ type beers that had never been produced before.
I have to say it was just a dream that I kept alive while I was working in my corporate jobs in the industry in Bangkok. I kept thinking, “why not do something really different? Why not brew and sell beer that’s never been made before using uniquely Thai ingredients?”
I took a Craft Brewing course at Research & Teaching Institute of Brewing in Berlin (VLB Berlin) during one holiday and explored small scale boutique brewing. I gained experience in other small scale breweries during the course, but when I talked about my ideas of using Thai ingredients like black sticky rice, or coriander they said it couldn’t be done.
I returned to Thailand more determined than ever and last year, when I turned thirty, I thought well it’s now or never!
I thought a holiday place like Phuket which has a lot of international visitors would be more receptive to my uniquely Thai beers and I liked the idea of living here, so I rented the space at Junceylon and set to work opening the pub and brewery from last November.
We currently have three types of beer plus specials like the ‘green beer’ that we’ve been selling in March for Saint Patrick’s Day using pandanas leaves, lemon grass and wild honey.
We have a pale, refreshing Thai-style Phuket Lager made with Thai Gaba rice from the King’s Royal project to deliver a sweet and malty aroma. We also have a Dark Ale which uses black sticky rice combined with caramel and chocolate malts to deliver a richly flavored dark colored brew. Finally we have Oriental Wheat beer which combines wheat, oatmeal, Thai tangerine peel and coriander to create a fresh buttery textured white beer. All the beers are hand crafted and use only natural ingredients with no artificial additives. The pub also offers a full range of Craft Cocktails, which use only fresh fruit. The special cocktail is Thailand’s official signature drink, “Siam Sunrays” which features fresh Thai herbs blended with super premium spirit.
The response has been really good and is accelerating month on month. About sixty percent of our customers are tourists and the Phuket locals are discovering us and enjoy our friendly sociable atmosphere, full of fun and conversation.
After all this enjoyable chit chat there was little else to do but start sampling Sukij’s wonderful creations and say a hearty “CHEERS!”