Best of Lantau expert Alan Chung— co-organiser of the Rotten Head Music & Craft Beer events—shares his love of locally brewed craft beer.
All too often, when you are looking for a cold beer to take the edge off a sweltering afternoon, the only options you can find are the same unremarkable lagers from the big market players that you see everywhere in Hong Kong. Although these beers are able to quench your thirst, they do nothing to stimulate your palate.
Luckily, there are now several up-and-coming local craft beer breweries in Hong Kong who are brewing up different styles of beers, each with their own unique taste. Although pale ales and India pale ales are the two styles most commonly associated with craft beers, if you look a bit closer you can find many more varieties—like sour beer, amber ale, stout and porter—popping up on the local craft beer scene. With such a range of styles and flavours, you can find a beer to suit just about anyone.
In Hong Kong, there are now approximately 18 local craft beer breweries with a wide range of skills. Some notable ones, with large-scale operations, are Gwei Lo Beer, Moonzen Brewery and Young Master Ales, and their beers are easy to find at bars and restaurants throughout Hong Kong. But also keep an eye out for some of the smaller brewers like Hong Kong Whistle and The Brew Common. One of my favourites has to be H.K. Love Craft, which is based in nearby Tsing Yi. Its Rauchbier, a German-inspired style of beer, is a real winner, since the barley used to brew the beer is charred to deliver a smoky taste, which brings out the rich maltiness in the beer.
Although there is growing interest and support of locally brewed craft beers in Hong Kong, it’s a fiercely competitive market in which to survive. Huge amounts of marketing money injected by large beverage companies makes it very difficult for local brewers to break into the market, and the cost of producing high-quality beer is always going to be more than the cost for commercial beer. Having said that, you can find places that specialise in supporting local breweries, like the Hoppy Junction in Wanchai and the Hong Kong Island Tap House in Tin Hau.Tags: Rotten head, beer, local craft beer