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Hong Kong’s craft beer scene is something else. According to Chris Wong, founder and head brewer of local HK brewery Heroes, “It’s definitely one of the quickest-growing scenes or cities in Asia. ... One thing that really kind of stands out among other markets is the customers in Hong Kong really love to try new things, so people are really open-minded here.”
Craft beer is unique because it’s made by smaller, independent breweries rather than by bigger brands. These smaller breweries (often called microbreweries) are all about the art of brewing, often using traditional techniques. Craft breweries produce smaller batches of their products, which are often more distinct in flavor than beer made by most big brands. They use different ingredients in varying amounts. Bigger brewers also make beer that’s usually less expensive. Craft beer also tends to be darker and stronger, so not everyone has a taste for it. But Hong Kong seems to be acquiring that taste!
The first craft brewery in the city was Hong Kong Beer Company, then called South China Brewing Company. It was founded in 1995. By 2013, there were two craft breweries in the city. Just five years later in 2018, the count was at 35. So the scene has definitely exploded in recent years. Plus, China is the world’s biggest beer market by value.
And the growing industry in Hong Kong isn’t interested in imitating the beer culture of anywhere else.
“Many local breweries are using local flavours and local ingredients that create ... Hong Kong craft beer as an identity rather than imitating the American, the British style,” says Toby Cooper, owner of The Globe pub in Hong Kong’s Central district. He says that one day, Hong Kong could become a unique beer destination.
Young Master brewery, which opened in 2013, is among Asia’s highest-rated and most-awarded craft breweries. Included in its 2023 limited-release lineup, it offers a lager that focuses on the flavors of genmaicha (a green tea mixed with roasted brown rice), a Berliner Weisse that highlights the taste of “fresh strawberries, locally roasted coffee beans, and Valrhona cacao nibs” and a plum-flavored sour beer.
Visiting one of Hong Kong’s many tap rooms, bars or even local grocery stores, it’s hard to miss these brews.