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Meet the brewer brothers behind Thailand's first ever hops farm

Back in June, brewer brothers Nattachai “Ob,” 36, and Teerapat “Art” Ungsriwong, 34, won best beer at the Beer Camp: Fightclub competition for their Devanom IPA. They are also the guys behind Thailand’s first hops farm, Deva Farm & Cafe, which opens to the public this Aug 20 (sorry, tickets are sold out). As they wait for their next batch of hop flowers to be ready, the pair talk to BK about their journey.

By Monruedee Jansuttipan | Aug 08, 2016

  • Meet the brewer brothers behind Thailand's first ever hops farm

What did you do before you started Devanom?

Ob: We first worked together to open a mobile phone software company called Crie. My brother was the designer while I was the software engineer. We sold it to a giant Thai telecom company but continued to run it for a while before deciding to close it last year. We just felt the market had pretty much reached its saturation point.

How did you get into brewing?

Art: By the time we decided to close the company, the world of brewing had already drawn us in. We regularly visited Chit Beer, founded by Wichit Saiklao, at Pak Kret and decided to become his students when he opened his first craft beer class in 2014.

Ob: We slowly began experimenting with brewing before finally releasing our first craft beer under the Devanom brand last June.

What triggered you to grow hops here?

Art: We were just curious. Hops get their character from where they’re grown, so we knew that hops grown in Thailand would be unique. It has always been impossible to make beer from fresh hops in Thailand as we need to use dry hops from abroad imported in pellets. Now, Thai brewers are keen to make fresh or wet-hop beer, which is brewed using fresh hop flowers. This farm allows us to do so. It adds a fresh taste to the beer. I first tried to grow hops in our bedroom by running the air-conditioning 24/7 before deciding last year to test growing them outside. It worked! That’s when we decided to expand to a farm and now have plans to sell hops in the future.

So when will you release your first beer made using fresh hops?

Ob: Not any time soon. We do currently brew it but only for ourselves, not to sell. We want to make sure that it’s made with high-quality hops. We’re still in the experimental period.

How was it moving from the digital world to agriculture?

Ob: We were already growing hydroponic vegetables so it wasn’t a new thing for us. Actually, we use a lot of technology and science to grow our hops here, like watering sensor systems and greenhouse technology which feeds good bugs that work to expel bad bugs organically.

What do you see as the distinct characteristics of Thai craft beer?

Ob: In the US or Europe, they brew beer at a temperate climate. We need to make beer that matches Thailand’s natural temperature of 30-34 degrees Celsius. We also need to use our native microbes and yeast derived from local plants to deliver genuinely Thai-style craft beer—not just add Thai herbs like krapao, lemongrass or Thai fruit and call it “Thai-style beer.” These ingredients are all being used in the West as well. Our focus now is on delivering the best taste based on traditional beer recipes. Once we’ve mastered that, we’ll start experimenting more.

Have you ever had trouble with Thailand’s laws about brewing beer?

Ob: Never. Maybe the excise department understands our situation. We’re now in the process of making Thailand’s first craft brewery, led by Wichit of Chit Beer. Hopefully we will see it open later this year. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan

Check out pics of Deva Farm & Cafe below:


See also: Thailand's first hops farm takes craft brewing to the next level

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