At Beertopia, New Empire was serving two house ales — one a citrus pale ale perfectly suited to Hong Kong’s hot summer days, and an American IPA (India Pale Ale) — traditionally a vibrant, hoppy British beer, but this time brewed with US hops.
The biggest challenges for brewers in Hong Kong are high property and operational costs as well as a general lack of space.
“It’s not just about high rents,” said Dugar, whose brewery is based in an old industrial estate on Hong Kong Island. “It’s also about how to fit brewing equipment which tends to be taller than the ceiling heights we have. Floor loading in some older buildings is not suitable. There’s a whole host of problems.”
Another player is Hong Kong Beer Co, one of the territory’s older breweries. First set up in 1995, it closed down before being bought and reopened last year by the founders of Singapore’s Brewerkz pub.
“It’s amazing how everything has bubbled up in the last year,” said Devin Otto Kimble, a Hong Kong Beer Co director.
He says that customers are increasingly quality-conscious and are prepared to pay more for craft beer, whose complex method is reflected in its higher prices.
“You might drink a US$100 bottle of wine so why drink really cheap beer?” he said.
“Beer is 95 percent water, so why ship it halfway around the world? The British always say that you shouldn’t take beer any further than a horse can go in a day, and I think that’s true,” Kimble said.