Over the last few years, beer has experienced a renaissance of sorts. Gone is the watered-down overly commercial swill most of us are used to- today’s beers are seasonal, made in micro-breweries by home brew aficionados, with the only the best ingredients sourced from the world over. Craft brewers lovingly blend hops, malted barley, and yeast to create that elusive perfect pint. These beers are more like fine wines: unique, layered and brewed to be savored. Nowhere is that more obvious than in our hometown. The Hong Kong craft beer scene is really heating up of late, so we thought it was time to introduce the passionate local brewers behind some seriously high quality beer. From bottled to draught, from crisp lagers to malty stouts, from strong IPAs to session ales, we’ve got an incredible selection for just one city.
A very recent addition to the Hong Kong craft beer scene, Gweilo Beer was created by, as you may have guessed, gweilos. This group of expat friends who used to homebrew back in the UK currently offer an IPA and a Pale Ale. Both of these are session ales (meaning many can be consumed in a session) and combine European, American and South Pacific ingredients to create unique flavors. Note: Gweilo Beer is currently being brewed under contract by Hong Kong Beer Co.
Beer Styles: IPA, Pale Ale
Where to Find Them: You can find them on draft and bottled around Hong Kong, visit their site for a full listing.
Hong Kong Beer Co.
Originally launched in 1995, Hong Kong Beer Co. has since been purchased by the founders of Singapore brewpub Brewerkz, who hired American beer maker Simon Pesch, formerly of cult West Coast brewery Pyramid, to relaunch the brand. They offer a fairly large selection of beers- with everything from locally influenced varieties, such as their Pearl River White Ale, a Belgian White Ale made with wheat malt, Mandarin orange, rose buds and honey to American style hop-forward beers that showcase Persch’s West Coast roots, such as their dry-hopped Big Wave Bay IPA.
Beer Styles: Ale, Belgian White Ale, Amber Lager, Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Stout, and a limited release cask-conditioned variety.
Where to Find Them: Draft and bottled offerings can be found at many locations throughout Hong Kong, check here for a complete list.
Mak’s Brewery Company
Another new kid on the block, Mak’s Brewery Company was founded by three local Hong Kong friends longing for a better pint. A truly cottage beer, the founders make the beers by hand themselves using local ingredients as evidenced in their Longan Pale Ale (made with goji berries and longan) and their Stout, an Asian twist on stout made with sugarcane.
Beer Styles: Stout, Belgian Wheat Ale, Ale
Where to Find Them: Mak’s bottled beers can currently be found at Ruggers, Itchi, Bike the Moment Store, and City Brew, but it may be best to check their website for updated listings.
Husband and wife team Laszlo and Michele Raphael are very passionate about incorporating local flavors and traditions into nano-brewed beers- the word Moonzen means “door gods’ in Cantonese and their gorgeous label art is a tribute to ancient Chinese folklore. Lazlo and Michelle are the definition of purists: all their beers are unpasteurized, naturally carbonated and contain live yeast. Their flagship beer, Thundergod Ale, is an American Pale Ale which is highly quaffable, with a hint of the tropics in its hop forwardness. Plus, it won top prize in the Hong Kong Brewed Beer category at the 2014 International Beer Awards! Green Queen also loves their focus on sustainability: all bottles are recycled and their used grain is composted.
Beer Styles: Amber Ale, Porter, Stout, IPA, Pale Ale, as well as rotating seasonal offerings.
Where to Find Them: Moonzen’s bottles can be found at The Pawn, the Mandarin Oriental, Open Door Cafe, Foxtail & Broomcorn, The Globe, ICC, The Mahjong, and Craftissimo.
Tipping Point Brewing Co.
American-born chef and home-brewer Que Vinh Dang, formerly of TBLS private kitchen, opened the Tipping Point Brewing Co. on Wyndham Street in early 2014, offering a selection of their own brews as well as an impressive collection of craft beers from around the world, many on tap. When it comes to their own beer, the focus is on unique flavor combinations and American-style West Coast brews, such as their TPBC West Coast IPA, made with cascade hops, and their American Pale Ale, made with cascade hops and San Francisco yeast.
Beer Styles: Porter, IPA, Double IPA, Cream Ale, Ale, Double IPA.
Where to Find Them: Both draught and bottled versions of their beers are available exclusively at their namesake pub.
Young Master Ales
Founder Rohit Dugar had custom brewing equipment made to accommodate the small size of his Ap Lei Chau factory unit as the off-the-shelf options were meant for larger US style spaces. Young Master Ales creates beers that borrow from both American and European traditions to create unique-to-Hong Kong flavours, with ingredients such as chen pei (dried mandarin orange peels) and five spice powder. Their The Rye on Wood is a truly special offering based on rye whiskey and made with malted rye aged in new American oak. Their beers are super natural too: all are unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated.
Beer Styles: Lager, Pale Ale, IPA, as well as seasonal offerings.
Where to Find Them: You can pick up their beer at their brewery in Ap Lei Chau- they even offer growlers- or find them on tap around town using this list.
Special Mention – Nine Dragons
Simon Siemsgluess, who previously worked for Germany beer brand Paulaner’s, started this craft brewery a couple of years ago. They are still looking for a space in Hong Kong though they have begun brewing in Germany. As might be expected, the beers lean towards German-style offerings, for example their New Territory Pilsner and Fist of Fury Black Lager, which are both true east-meets-west concoctions combining the German beer tradition with a touch of Asia. All are unfiltered and unpasteurized.
Beer Styles: Pilsner, IPA, Black Lager, Saison, Pale Ale
Where to Find Them: Their draught beers can be found at The Roundhouse, U-Hang, Craft Brew & Co., The Old Hangar, Tipping Point, and The Tap. Their bottles are available at Foxtail & Broomcorn.
Special Mentions – The Roundhouse Taproom
The Roundhouse Taproom, located on Peel Street in Soho, is an homage to craft beer. They have a whopping 24 rotating craft beers on tap, all hailing from around the world (Australia, NZ, UK, Canada, US, Korea) but what we love the most is how many Hong Kong brews you will find. They have Young Master and Hong Kong Brew Co on draught, as well as bottles of Gweilo and Moozen Brewery. They also concoct a Roundhouse special, which is brewed by Young Master and whose formula changes with each new batch- their latest is an Amber Ale with a wheat base and grapefruit and jalapeno flavours. But the coolest thing to know? They host a U-Brew competition whereby punters can sell their home brews and have them voted on by guests! It can’t get more locally brewed than that!
Special Mentions – Craft Brew & Co
Craft Brew & Co, with a Sai Ying Pun location (High Street) and a Soho outpost (Old Bailey Street) has their own locally brewed beer selection on tap including an IPA, a Pale Ale, an Ale and a Lager. They also provide beer lovers with an impressive selection of global bottled beers- as well as stocking Young Master Ales.
Special Mention – HK Brewcraft
For those looking to get start at home, HK Brewcraft offers home brew starter kits, ingredient kits and other brewing supplies. Your first batch didn’t turn out as you imagined? They also offer workshops to help turn you into a brewing master.
Photo Credits: Gweilo Beer, Moonzen, Mak’s Brewery Company, Hong Kong Beer Co., Tipping Point Brewing Co., Nine Dragons, Young Master Ales, HK Brewcraft, Roundhouse Beer Flight via photopin (license).