Sunday, June 14, 2015

G-Shock 27: My GSC Travel to Thailand part.. III: A big beer brewery and a nice custom G-Shock.

After the party on May 2nd, I had to go to bed on time, as the program for my last day in Thailand started early. That sunday I woke up actually early and saw that Riley of My G-Shock had tried to contact me. Due to the huge time difference between Philadelphia and Bangkok I was able to contact him via facetime. This was cool, though I had only short time to chat. Still it was cool to have a conversation with such a legendary person. After refreshing myself, it was time for an early breakfast. I travelled down the elevator at 7 as I already was picked up at 7:30. Of course, I got again the banana bread with marmalade.
Todd and Thiti arranged something very special. The weekend I was in Thailand was a long weekend, because of national holidays on Friday May 1st, May 4th and Tuesday May 5th. Due to the weekend and holidays, there was relatively not much traffic. Therefore we already arrived at one of the Boon Rawd Breweries after an interesting one and a half hour drive. Just in time as we had an appointment with one of the Master Brewers of this brewery.
After we were introduced by each other, the Master Brewer starts his presentation. Normally this presentation is done for bigger groups, but for this occasion the presentation is done in a relative big office. This brewery is the newest brewery of the Singha Corporation and only brews Leo Beer. Leo Beer is the newest beer of the Boon Rawd Breweries and actually also the most popular beer of the Singha brand in Thailand.
On the left the 1500 hl brewhouse, on the right the 1000 hl brewhouse.
Normally the brewery is in production 24/7, but because of the long weekend, the brewery was not brewing, so the brewer took the opportunity to CIP both brew houses (CIP = Clean In Place, meaning that the installation is cleaned automatically, without disassembly) and had time to give the presentation. The size of the brewery is enormous. There are two “brewhouses”. One of 1000 hl and one of 1500 hl, placed parallel to each other. Brewing is a continuous process in this brewery. Every 2 hours a brew is completed and a new one is started. This means every 2 hours this brewery produces 2500 hl. I am a volunteer brewing assistant in one of the largest micro craft breweries in my country. When in full production, we can make between 2000 hl and 2500 hl a year. This brewery produces per day 12 times our maximal year production. Wow!
The first kettle (left) is for making rice ready for mashing, 2nd kettle is for the mash, 3rd is the big brewing kettle, next the whirlpool and the last one is for the filtered and cooled young beer. 
For me the most interesting thing to see, is that this enormous brewery just works like my little home brew installation and the brewery where I work. Well, almost. I noticed a huge extra kettle placed before the mashing kettle. I learned this was an extra kettle to prepare rice, as Leo Beer is not only brew with malts, but also with rice. This gives the beer a richer flavor and a dryer mouth feel, perfectly for drinking a few bottles at a hot day (note that while I was in Thailand, it was around 35ºC every day). In comparison, Singha lager, which is brewed in two other breweries, is a 100% barley malt beer. Of course I couldn’t resist to ask what kind of hops are used. I noticed this was a bit uneasy question. Only a few people of the Boon Rawd breweries know what kind of hops are used. Actually the hops are brought in the brewery in unmarked bags or bags with the stickers removed.
After viewing the brew houses, we went to an over 2000 meter long hall, which connects all parts of the brewery facilities together. This is the place where normal visitors only can see the brewery. Next to the brewhouse. From a glass wall we can look into the laboratory. Although the brewery wasn’t in production, several analysts were still working at the lab. Quality control is needed 24 hours a day. We also pass a hall where water is purified for brewing, before we reach the enormous bottling hall and warehouse. Although the brewing houses were not in production, still one canning unit was still working. When walking back to the brewhouses, I noticed a funny sign “No Taking Pictures”. Although I had taken quite some photo’s, I respect the company secrets and place only the more general photo’s of the brewery.
The fermentation- and storage tanks outside the brewery. 
Kind of girly office. 
These are the rice storage tanks. Th much larger barley malt tanks are on th eright (not on this photo, but you cn see them in the first photo of the brewery, where we were still on the highway).
Outside, on the other side of the hall, there is a huge tank park with 52 fermentation tanks, 20 storage tanks and 10 Bright Beer (lagering) tanks, which are all cooled, as Leo is a cold fermentation beer (lager).
About an hour after we arrived, we drove back to the hotel where I arrived around noon and had some time for myself. I got some packages in the minibus from the Singha Brewery. First some nice polo shirts of Manchester United and Chelsea (both sponsored by Singha) and, very cool, a cycling jersey and bib in my size of Singha Drinking Water (which kept me hydrated during the long trips in the minibus).
Unfortunately... fake.
Thai people are not tall. I can't impossible walk under this construction.
Later that afternoon I went out walking down the road, do a little sight seeing and looking for something to eat. Within 100 meter I already bought my first T-Shirt. Curious as I am, I walked up and down some l alleys. While passing some kind of big office building I greeted to one of the guards, as I saw he was wearing something that appeared to be a G-Shock. I asked if I could take a picture, as I didn’t know this version, but when I looked at the photo a little later, I saw it was a fake G-Shock. Damn. In one of the side streets I discovered a kind of French bakery, which sounds always tasty. I had a delicious almond bread and blackberry juice.

After my late lunch, I decided to walk down the road, under the railroad, so I could take the Bangkok Skytrain back to the hotel. I should have done this earlier. I first had to struggle with the ticket mechanism, but if I knew there were also cheap day tickets, I should have travelled a lot more (reminder to myself If I might visit Bangkok again). First I could not resist to take photo’s and movies of the trains entering the station. You didn’t have to wait long, as the frequency of trains was about a train every 5 minutes. You might maybe not know, but as a child I was crazy about trains and I still like to travel by train. I had only walked the distance of two stations. The station in-between where I got on the train and my hotel was called Nana, which I find amusing. When I grew up, I lived in a street, where I had a friend called Nana. We had a big future before us. I would become a train driver, she would become a nurse, we would get married and have 4 children. Until I was about 15 years old and was going to Paris. So I told her and she replied: “Oh, that’s so cool. What language do they speak in Paris?”.
Back at the hotel I took a good shower and made myself ready for dinner with Todd Piti. He had noticed I loved the tuna salad in Est. 33, so the bus took me to a Japanese restaurant. We had a good conversation, as Todd was very curious how I live on my island (which is actually nowadays a peninsula), we talked about brewing and micro brewing and, of course, we talked a lot about G-Shock hunting. The food was very delicious. We tried various dishes. Californian rolls, all kind of fish and of course, tuna sashimi, one of my favorite foods.
While we were talking Todd brought something on the table. It was the customized Singha Soda Water G-Shock. Todd knew I loved this model and said there were made two, so it would not be a problem for the contest. Needless to say, I felt honored. Time was flying at the restaurant, and before we knew it, we had to say goodbye, as I had to get up real early to go to the airport the next day. My three days in Thailand was like a very good rollercoaster ride.
Singha Soda Water. Yes, the Singha Corporation does not only make beer. Mix drinks, white spirit, Rice crackers, seaweed snacks, rice, lifestyle drinks, sports drinks, mineral water, drinking water and finally Soda water. Like most international brands, the drinking water has a blue label and the soda water (carbonized water) has a red label.

Like the label of the bottle, this custom G-Shock is white with red accents and with a nice sparkling bubbles pattern on the straps. It’s a very nice striking combination. I actually do not know who made this custom G-Shock. Maybe this article will change that over time, but it comes with a nice cubic box with an insert to present the G-Shock properly. The base model for this custom is highly probable the white/red DW-6900SC-7 from the `”Crazy Colors: Metallic Stars” collection of July 2013.
The custom straps are full of details from the Singha Soda Water bottle. On the short strap with the buckle, you’ll find a snippet of the label. Near the case you’ll find the text โซดาน้ำสิงห์, which translates to Singha Soda Water (โซดา = Soda, น้ำ = water, สิงห์ = Singha). Singha Soda Water is not only for drinking pure, but it also advertised to use in mixes. The company uses the slogan:”Make a Mix”, but in adverts it is also seen as a bottle of Soda Water with a “+” next to it. Hence you find “Make a Mix” on the long strap (together with the head of a red Singha) and a “+” above the label on the short strap.
Most striking I think is the red metallic face plate. It has a kind of texturized matte finish. On top of the face plate you’ll find the Singha text logo, while the gold Singha logo is printed on the faceplate. I love it how the light plays with this faceplate, when you move the watch.
The back of the watch has a custom engraving, though it has a little flaw. In the middle there is the logo of the Boon Rawd Brewery Co. Ltd. Somehow the laser etching was not very deep top eft of the logo. The text around the backplate suggests the model number DW-6900SODA. There is no module number given, but I assume it is the regular 3230 module. It also says it is “Made in Japan”, which I actually do not believe. I checked my DW-6900SC-7 and found it was made in Thailand. And with this custom model, made for a typical Thai drink and customized by a Thai G-Shocker, I would have been proud of my country, if it said: Made in Thailand.
This is my last article about my short, but intense trip to Thailand in May. I hope you liked my adventures. I like to thank Todd Piti, Jarujin and Thiti for arranging this trip in every detail. If I knew who was the G-Shocker, who made this Singha Soda Water G-Shock Custom, I would like to compliment him with designing this great looking and very good detailed custom G-Shock and packaging. Somehow, I think I will know who made this G-Shock soon after I publish this article. And finally, of course I would like to thank all the G-Shockers of GSC I met in Bangkok. You all gave me a happy indelible experience. Thank You!!!