​The 3 Acts of an Award-Winning Lager with Local Time

The story of Phuket Sunset Thai-Style Lager is a fun one​ says Local Time Head Brewer Devin Singley. 

​”It’s a story that anyone with experience in a brewery can relate to​,” he said. The nearly one-year-old brewery is proud of the gold-medal-winning Lager and shared with Brewer in this Brew Review a unique story in three acts. 

​”It’s the story of alchemy,” Singley wrote to Brewer as he laid the groundwork for these three acts. “We tried to turn a bug into a feature and in the process turned rice into gold.”

The brewery won gold at the 2023 North Carolina State Fair, which is one of the largest professional beer competitions in the Southeast.

Local Time makes beer inspired by the world, he noted.

“When you fly internationally, one of the first things they tell you on landing is the local time,” Singley said about the brewery’s namesake. 

About three months after opening, the brewery had some North and South American-inspired beer, as well as Europe and Oceania, with an African brew in the pipeline. But nothing yet from Asia. 

Act 1 – The Plan 

​”My plan was to make a dry Japanese-style beer​,” he said. “I ordered grains​ — which included rice that is puffed to be brewhouse ready.​”

​The grain showed up​, but there was no rice on the pallet. 

​”I get up with my sales rep from the supplier and I’m like, where the hell is my rice​,” he asked. “My rep said they were out of stock and she forgot to tell me when I placed the order. So here’s the dilemma​: I have yeast in a tank that needs to be harvested and re-used.​ I don’t have a mill, so the malted grains come to me pre-milled. The clock is ticking on 2 of ​my 4 beer​ elements.​ I also only have ​five fermenters​ and a seven-barrel brewhouse. I ​need this beer.​”

​Singley went to his restaurant supply store ​and they had premium single​-source​d, long grain Thai Jasmine rice.

​”I think, here’s my chance to turn a bug into a feature​,” he said.​ “Instead of tasteless rice​, I decided to lean into the rice and make it more of the flavor identity.​” 

Act 2 – The Kitchen

​So Singley bought the Thai rice, but it​ was not brewhouse​-ready. 

​”The next day is brew day​ … how am I going to pull this off​,” he thought. “The thought occurred to me that if I’m going to set up my ​two-vessel brewhouse to cook rice in the kettle and pump it back to the mash tun, then I might as well do a decoction mash. 

​”I apparently hate myself.​”

​After the third decoction pull, ​he used the kettle to boil both the grain and the rice. 

​”This cooks the rice, gets me to saccharification rest temperature, and gives what would otherwise be just pilsner malt and rice an interesting texture​,” he said. “The brew day took forever. I think it was like ​11 at night by the time I was all done.​” 

The jasmine rice gives the beer a distinct lightness and clarity,​ he said, but the decoction mash and jasmine make the final product more interesting and complex than your average light lager. 

​”It’s floral. It’s crisp and clean with a rice flavor that feels intentional​,” Singley said.

Act 3 – The Name

Local Time names beers after cities or landmarks around the world​, so they decide​d to name the beer after Phuket (pronounced poo-KET) in Thailand. 

​”We also added ‘Sunset’ to the name in hopes of helping people pronounce Phuket correctly​,” he said. “Spoiler alert; they don’t. ​’F​*ck it Sunset​’ gets ordered daily.​”

Photo courtesy Amber Foster Smith Photography

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