So I’ve technically given up on drinking, but I do have this rule that I try and drink a bit when UI travel. In Hong Kong, it was really worth it: with an emerging craft beer market, the island is producing unique beers that are already breaking into Australia and the world.
I got my first taste of HK style craft beer in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong’s trendy restaurant and bar district that is facilitating the opening of new hospitality venues thanks to lower rents. Here, Western-Australia born Little Creatures Brewing decided to set up shop crafting distinctive, well-balanced beers that are inspired by the creativity and individuality of the brewers. After the huge success of Little Creatures’ Pale Ale, the team of mates behind the brand decided to branch out to Hong Kong.
Little Creatures in Kennedy Town is part brewery, part restaurant, part bloody cool venue. Serving a blend of international foods including pizza and some mean chips, it’s what you would expect from the trendiest neighbourhood in town.
According to venue manager Troy Sutton, Hong Kong is a clean slate, an attractive location for craft beer brands to tap into. He says:
“In Australia, craft beers hold 30% of the beer market. In Hong Kong, it’s only 3%. It’s a gateway into Asia, a way to launch the craft beer phenomenon in the Far East.”
I went in for a Beer Flight ($HKD 100, or about £10 and $AUS17), or a tasting of all Little Creatures’ Beers – as you do when you haven’t been drinking for about seven months and your tolerance is lower than ever.
When I went in, my favourite beers in the flight were:
- The first beer of them all, the LK Pale Ale, made with Cascade and Chinook hops coming straight from the USA to make an American style Pale Ale. Made using whole hop cones sourced straight from the USA., the LK Pale Ale is preservative and additive free.
- The Bright Ale, a bright filtered ale that is a hybrid between new and old world beers, truly Australian style.
- The Pilsner, made with 100% Pilsner Malt and German Perle hops, which make the aroma and bitterness of the hops shine through.
- The truly unique Rogers Beer, created in partnership with Aussie craft beer legends Roger Bailey and Roger Bussell with a nod to the traditions of fine English Ales. Made with whole hop flowers, this beer has a gentle bitterness and light citrus hop notes that blend with roasted toffee and caramel malt flavours.
That evening, the house brew was the K-Town Cali, a typical California beer, a very light and summery ale brewed in Kennedy (not Korea) Town.
While in HK, I also spoke to a local craft brewer about the beer market in the island. With an IPA, a Pale Ale and a Wheat ‘Wit’ beer, Gweilo (HK slang for “foreigner”) creates internationally inspired beers blending Asian flavours with the craft beer tradition, making them the perfect drink to sip in the Hong Kong heat.
Henry Atkinson, from the team at Gwelio Beer, says the brand wants to be seen as an “entry level craft beer” for the Hong Kong population, creating an approachable and affordable drink for everyone. He says:
“With the recent arrival of more craft breweries in Hong Kong, the beer scene is changing. Gweilo wants even the most loyal drinkers of big brand tasteless beer to embrace the change. Put simply, life’s too short to drink bad beer. It just isn’t worth the calories.”
Update: I did make it back to the hotel that night. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing.
Pictures: Charlotte Howells from The Fashion Division