So you love craft beer, or you want to. Hong Kong has a tremendous selection of craft beer styles to choose from, from ales, to sours, to lagers. Each brewery and every beer has a great deal of personality, and thanks to the innovation and dedication of local microbrewers, they have made a statement at the Asia Beer Championship 2020, held in November.
The competition consisted of over 320 individual beer entries by 75 breweries from Asia. Hong Kong received six gold, four silver and six bronze awards and was just edged out by South Korea, placing second overall in the medal tally and closing the gap from last year’s competition.
Due to the real-estate limitations here in Hong Kong, it is common for breweries to share their space amongst multiple brands who all use their own ingredients and recipes. This naturally leads to many beer collaborations and a close-knit, supportive community. It’s a rare feel-good story in a tough year for everyone, with many excellent beers coming out of Hong Kong right now.
Hong Kong craft breweries
To get you started, the following is a comprehensive list of more than 30 local craft brewers in Hong Kong and some recommended beers to try. Enjoy!
- Black Kite Brewery
- Carbon Brews
- Citibrew HK
- Deadman Brewery
- Double Haven Brewing
- Foam Beer Brewery
- Good Beer Project
- Gradient Brewery
- Heroes Beer Co
- HK Craft Beer Co.
- HK Lovecraft
- Hong Kong Beer Co
- Hong Kong Whistle 吹啤啤
- Kowloon Bay Brewery
- Kung Fu Lager
- Lion Rock Brewery
- Little Creatures
- Mak’s Brewery
- Meow Beer
- MiMi Beer
- Moonzen Brewery
- Nine Dragons Brewery 九龍啤酒
- Oh! CBD Beer HK
- Serious Monkey Brewery
- Seven Brews
- Tai Wai Beer
- The Brew Commons
- Yardley Brothers
- Young Master Brewery
Black Kite Brewery
Recently relaunched Black Kite is named after the familiar bird that is often seen soaring amongst Hong Kong’s skyscrapers. Founded by brothers David and Daniel Gallie, Black Kite is focused on fresh ingredients and classic styles as well as periodic specials.
They have been joined by Tom Turner, who is making fantastic local ciders at Neonotic, and we expect some really inspired new beers to try in the coming months. We’ve heard their Ice Cream Swirl Milkshake IPA is incredible or, for something different, try their Oh, Bacon! smoked (breakfast?) ale.
When the restrictions lift, you should book a hands-on brewery tour in Wong Chuk Hang.
Read about Shaheen’s visit to Black Kite back in 2015.
Must-try: Double Dollar DIPA
Carbon Brews took over the Hitachino Nest Beer brewery (who now import all their beers to Hong Kong) and are constantly producing must-try beers. They release a new version of Little Rich Lupulins every three months. In v.7, it’s dry-hopped with Talus, HBC 630 and Motueka and is divine.
If you need another reason to try a Carbon Brews beer, consider their environmental commitment. All the spent grain from a Carbon Brews batch is delivered to the government’s Organic Resources Recovery Centre for transformation to compost or biogas. You can visit the new Carbon Brews retail shop at K11 MUSEA, keep an eye on their brewery tours when they reopen or just pick up a pair of cool socks.
Carbon Brews just purchased Double Haven's brewery which will up their production significantly. Expect to see a lot more Carbon Brews!
Must-try: Little Rich Lupulins v.7 Hazy IPA
Best Beer 2020 for Funky Rich Lupulins v.2
Gold – Double IPA 6–9% for Crazy Rich Lupulins
Gold – Specialty IPA 6–9% for Funky Rich Lupulins v.2
Silver – Specialty IPA 3–6% for Staying Alive
Bronze – Pale/American Lager 3–6% for Earth People
Citibrew HK is truly connected to the pulse of Hong Kong. The series “This City is” hopes to record Hong Kong by beer so that we may all taste, participate and remember it, and This City is Shining Earl Grey Porter sounds good to us. There are many ways to make a statement, and Citibrew HK is as bold as its beers.
Nanobrewery Deadman would like to respect the history of beer making – and then challenge tradition. Similar to Yardley Brothers, they believe that “experimentation is the key to creating exceptionally unique-tasting beers”. Last year, they smashed the Asia Beer Championship, picking up five medals and winning the Champion Small Brewery award.
We love the hoppy and effervescent Hang Five IPA, which we recently enjoyed on tap at The Globe, and we recommend booking a beer tour to visit the brewery near Diamond Hill when COVID restrictions ease. You can find a good selection of Deadman beers on Mango Store.
Check out this great interview by James Waters with Head Brewer Jason Li.
Must-try: Hang Five IPA
Asia Brewers Network Champion Small Brewery
Gold – Double IPA for Hop Robber
Gold – Pale Ale for Mirror Mirror
Silver – India Pale Ale for Hang Five
Silver – Pilsner for New Zealand Pilsner
Bronze – Experimental Beer for Espresso Tonic Sour Stout
Double Haven Brewing
Double Haven Brewing is applying the KISS principle for “an authentic craft beer that’s crisp, clean, raw and real”. With just two core beers so far – Double Haven Lager and Weekender Pale – and a collaboration with Black Kite called The End is Rye, there really is no excuse not to try them (except if you are too obsessed with their Dragon Water Spiked Seltzers).
Must-try: Dragon Water Lemongrass Lime Spiked Selter
Foam Beer Brewery
First on our list to try from local cult favourite Foam Beer Brewery was the Chan Pui Beer (陳皮啤) tangerine peel amber ale, because we thought we might love a bit of citrus peel beer. Then we tried the Bread IPA double imperial, because look at it! 好靚! It is a really hazy beer with a lot of sediment at the bottom and an aroma that reminds us of fermenting mango.
Good Beer Project
Good Beer Project connects consumers with donations for social and environmental causes. Each beer under its brand is affiliated with a particular charity and 30% of all profits go to that charity. We were pleasantly surprised at the low-carb lager Captain Wonder, and we are very keen to try the Char Siu Man Lemon Ice Tea IPA 叉燒俠 and support Feeding Hong Kong while we’re at it. Get Good Beer online at these places.
Must-try: Captain Wonder Low Carb Lager
The name Gradient is a thoughtful consideration of the passing from one moment to another in both your life and beer journeys. “There is no good or not good, but only right and fine elements in the beer.” This is pretty deep, but we gather the gist is that you can appreciate elements in each beer even if it’s not quite to your taste at the time.
We got our hands on some Gradient beers (Sea Splash Sour, Breather IPA and Horapa White) through Mango Store with super-quick same-day delivery, and we thoroughly enjoyed them all. They are crisp and refreshing, and even the IPA wasn’t bitter. Any of the the three we tried is extremely sessionable, but we found the slightly salty Sea Splash Sour the most interesting and suitable for those who don’t normally enjoy beer. You can also find them on Wong Gum Gum.
Must-try: Sea Splash Sour
One of the founders literally had a dream where he ordered a pint of Gweilo at a pub, and he turned that idea into the largest craft brewery in Hong Kong. Having firmly established themselves in Hong Kong, they are now expanding to other countries, with brew-in-market operations in Australia, the USA and the UK.
Brewed in collaboration with Cathay Pacific, Betsy Pale Ale was made to be best enjoyed in a pressurised aircraft cabin at normal cruising altitude, with specific adjustments in the recipe formulation and carbonation. The current Gweilo line-up includes six core-range beers, and current limited-batch releases include Neapolitan Ice Cream Sour, Hazy As DIPA, Clear As DIPA and Totally Tropical Sour.
Many Gweilo beers are currently being brewed Down Under whilst their brand-new brewery is under construction. The BIG NEWS for Gweilo is that they are taking over Little Creature's space in Kennedy Town as a R&D 'brewers playground' for their limited edition beers to get feedback on which ones will get produced at scale. They expect to open in April 2021.
Must-try: Betsy Pale Ale
Heroes Beer Co
With so many Cereusly good beers from our friends at Heroes, we always have a hard time narrowing down a selection to take home. Last time, we went with Si L Dan IPA, KUPZZY In Time Hazy DIPA, Cereusly and new brew Alchem-Ms., a cloudy sour Berliner Weisse-style wheat beer with a fruity kick. It’s the new must-try!
In case you’re wondering, award winner BBAAWAIMSWCNAV stands for Bourbon Barrel and Amburana Wood Aged Imperial Milk Stout with Cacao Nibs and Vanilla. That really does sound delicious, but it’s very limited in quantity, so get it if you see it.
Try their new GROW UP Lemonade Milkshake IPA at BaseHall with a BBQ Brisket Burger from Honbo.
Must-try: KUPZZY In Time Hazy DIPA, Alchem-Ms.
Gold – New England Style IPA (Hazy IPA) for KUPZZY In Time Hazy DIPA
Silver – Wood/Barrel Aged Beer for BBAAWAIMSWCNAV
Bronze – IPA for Si L Dan
Best IPA 2020 for KUPZZY In Time Hazy DIPA
Gold – Specialty IPA 6–9% for KUPZZY In Time Hazy DIPA
Gold – Specialty Wood-Aged Beer 9–12% for BBAAWAIMSWCNAV
Bronze – American IPA 6–9% for Cereusly
Bronze – American IPA 6–9% for Si L Dan
HK Craft Beer Co.
HK Craft Beer Co. has just one beer so far, an American pale called /saan1/, which we tried recently. It’s light in colour, lightly carbonated, with a pleasant, hoppy aroma and slightly citrus flavour. Very easy drinking!
“Mountains are precious to Hong Kong people, especially at this difficult time. We enjoy the tranquility and fresh air there. The shapes and names of the mountains give them special meanings to us, just as special as our first released beer. Take a sip and taste its freshness.”
HK Lovecraft is serious about craft lager, and its founder, Perry Lam, is the first Master Brewer from Hong Kong. The brewery is outfitted with the very best, shiniest and newest equipment. With gorgeous and intriguing art and a mysterious mention of the study of the occult, HK Lovecraft gets attention, not least because its beers are top notch.
We recently partook in the year-round staple Helles Lager on tap and brought the new Buzz Honey Lager home to try, which is made with local raw honey. Next on our list to try is the creamy, coffee-flavoured Nitro Dunkel, which is on tap at Second Draft, The Madhouse and TAP 2.
Must-try: Helles Lager
Hong Kong Beer Co
Hong Kong Beer Co has been “combining the art and creativity of craft beer with the science and precision of chemistry” since 1995! Pioneers of Hong Kong’s craft beer scene, they have truly stood the test of time, which is more difficult here than elsewhere. Visit them in Chai Wan to say hi when restrictions are eased.
We love Dragon’s Back Pale Ale (pictured), but we have our eyes on the limited-release Mango Lassi Milkshake IPA, which we think would pair perfectly with a warming madras curry.
Must-try: Dragon’s Back Pale Ale
Hong Kong Whistle 吹啤啤
Hong Kong Whistle is a boutique brewery founded in 2016, and they focus on the production of “affordable yet luxurious beer”. Lots of their beers can be found on tap at many bars in Hong Kong, and we can’t believe it’s taken us this long to bring a couple of bottles home. We picked up some Belgian wheat-style 小麥蜂 Busy Bee Wit Ale, 碼頭咕哩 Pier Coolie Porter and 紅van大佬 Red Ale from our Mango Store impulse-buy. We found the Wit Ale slightly too sweet for our tastes, but we loved the Red Ale for its malty, nutty hit.
Visit their new retail shop at Kwai Chung Plaza and pick up a 板藍根 Ban Lan Gen IPA to cure your ills.
Must-try: 紅van大佬 Red Ale
Kowloon Bay Brewery
“No junk in our beer, just on our labels”. Kowloon Bay Brewery focuses on the key aspects of quality and freshness. With five core beers aiming at traditional brewing techniques and a number of seasonal brews, it can be intimidating to choose, but we recommend starting with the Pale Ale, which is brewed with Cascade hops for a slightly citrusy character.
EDIT: Whilst you may still see the odd Kowloon Bay beer online, they are no longer being brewed in Hong Kong (or anywhere as far as we know).
Kung Fu Lager
Thanks goes to Great Hop Forward for alerting us to Kung Fu Lager, which is brewed at Mak’s Brewery in Tsuen Wan. This lager combines the characteristics of Belgian-style lager and Chinese tea, and it won bronze at the 2019 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition in the Pale Lager category. We have not yet tried it, but Kung Fu Lager tells us the best place to get it right now is on tap at D26 in Lan Kwai Fong.
Lion Rock Brewery
Lion Rock was founded in 2015 and has a popular core range, of which we love Expendables Imperial IPA. “Lion Rock Brewery, together with Hong Kong, moves with the times”, and the brewery is actively creating beers using the latest hops and grains from around the brewing world.
Must-try: Expendables Imperial IPA
Little Creatures (closed 27 December 2020)
Beloved Australian craft brewer Little Creatures had been a K-Town icon for four years, but they quietly closed shop in December 2020, another casualty of the F&B climate in Hong Kong. Until then, they were brewing a number of beers on-site to be enjoyed fresh, and we will desperately miss their hoppy West Coast IPA in particular.
Gweilo will be taking over the brewery and restaurant as a R&D brewery making limited edition beers for real time feedback and serving 'beer related food'.
Must-try: West Coast IPA
Mak’s Brewery 深閏買物
Like all good craft breweries, Mak’s Brewery started with a passion for good beer. It produces some provocative East-meets-West craft beers such as dried Longan Pale Ale, Sugarcane Stout and Lemongrass IPA, which we are desperate to try. We might have to visit 65 Peel or Hoppy Junction soon for a lunchtime tasting...
Meow Beer says that the beauty of craft beer is not just to go with snacks or as a party necessity – it is a classic beverage to pair with international cuisines and to share with close friends on all occasions. With five unique flavours, we look forward to trying them all.
Founded in 2016 on the admirable principles of “Love, Peace and Nature”, MiMi Beer prides itself on simple ingredients. Co-founder Tomy Fong is an international beer judge, and he describes MiMi’s sour beer Okinawa Shikuwasa Gose as an entry-level gose with reduced sourness. "Shikuwasa (a kind of Okinawa lime) infused this gose with a unique aroma of lime and lemon. It is tart but balanced, incredibly refreshing, with lots of citrus notes that leave a sharp and clean aftertaste” – and that sounds very difficult not to enjoy.
Moonzen translates to “door gods” (門神), and the name was chosen because the family-run Kwun Tong brewery wanted to create a brand “inspired by the rich tapestry of Chinese folklore and rooted in Hong Kong culture”. This local favourite is a must-try.
Must-try: Thunder God (雷公) Ale
Silver – Pale Lager Märzen 6–9% for Oktoberfest Monkey King Oktolager
Bronze – American Barleywine 12–15% for Lunar Barleywine 2020
Nine Dragons Brewery 九龍啤酒
Photo credit: Don Mak
We don’t think Nine Dragons are still in Hong Kong. The last Nine Dragons beer on the app Untappd was in London in December 2020, with the last beer drunk in Hong Kong in 2019. They are no longer stocked at CAVE, HK Brewcraft or Craftissimo and are not responding to our desperate pleas. Please, someone, tell us what we must know!
Oh! CBD Beer HK
Promising a special connection between hops and hemp, Oh! CBD Beer comes as Kush IPA or Session IPL (Indian pale lager). It is available at HK Brewcraft for $75–80, which is significantly more expensive than other beers, so we picked up just one can of Session IPL to try. According to the label, it has 20mg of CBD (Young Master’s HEA has 60mg/L, which is about the same) and a very low bitterness of IBU 11. Did we say, oh? Well, yes. Yes, we did. Worth a try but a little pricey.
Edit: We found out through this article by James Waters that Oh!CBD Beer is brewed by Deadman's Head Brewer Jason Li.
Serious Monkey Brewery
We only discovered Kwun Tong brewers Serious Monkey Brewery when researching who is (was) doing brewery tours, and we have not yet tried any of their beers. Their dry-hopped imperial IPA Mermaid's Punch recently won an award, and you can buy it from them on their website. We are very keen to try their Hyena Laugh imperial IPA, which uses Kweik yeast and is dry-hopped for an extra-hoppy aroma.
Bronze – IPA/Double IPA 6–9% for Mermaid’s Punch
The Seven Brews beers available here in Hong Kong are brewed at the Hong Kong Beer Co brewery in Chai Wan. We first tried their delicious Too Easy India Pale Ale when they debuted at the Food’s Future Summit in 2018, where we found out that they had teamed up with A Plastic Ocean to promote reducing the use of single-use plastics. They have another charity programme launching this year but are tight-lipped for now.
We recently picked up their three core beers at HK Liquor Store in Wanchai to refresh our memory, and they are as fresh and true to style as we remember.
Must-try: Too Easy India Pale Ale
Smash was started by “a couple of Brazilian ju-jitsu nerds” who were looking for a clean, easy-drinking beer to smash after training. Smash does not mean “single malt and single hop” beers – instead, they have a Pale Ale and a hoppier and more bitter Session IPA, both refreshing and light to smash rather than get smashed. You can get them at the Lion Rock online shop or have one at Nhau.
Must-try: Smash Pale Ale
Tai Wai Beer
Tai Wai is the first local craft brewery using Western tea leaves to infuse beer in Asia. They sport some truly fabulous labels, and we were keen to get started with the Earl Grey Amber Ale. The tea flavour in this one is quite strong, with a herbal aftertaste that may take some getting used to. The Black Currant & Hibiscus Pale Ale is our pick so far, but there are plenty of others to try.
Must try: Black Currant & Hibiscus Pale Ale
The Brew Commons
We had The Brew Commons’ “A-side” beer – Mosaic with Friends double-hopped IPA – that we picked up at HK Brewcraft (and we have seen it at city’super too). It has a deliciously hoppy aroma, with a lingering, mildly bitter aftertaste that kept us wanting more. We are now very keen to get our hands on the B-side.
Must-try: Mosaic with Friends
Having spent a number of afternoons at The Beer Shack on Lamma after a hike, we are long-time fans of Yardley Brothers and their exciting programme of beer development. Every month, Luke Yardley and his team bring a new beer recipe to life, and some of these award-winning beers are never to be repeated. Drop in for the brewery tour when restrictions are lifted or try them at most HK taprooms while you can.
We currently order their real ale Amarillo Ale whenever it’s available, which is putting our beer tasting behind schedule.
Must-try: Amarillo Ale (on tap only), Fruit of the Gods Hazy Feijoa IPARELATED: Read more about our Yardley Brothers visit here
Gold – Experimental for S.E.A. Sour
Bronze – Sour Beer for Gooseberry + Vanilla
Bronze – Spice/Herb Flavoured for Mum’s Rhubarb Crumble
Gold – Pale Ale 3–6% for Machine Men Pale Ale
Gold – Specialty Fruit Beer 9–12% for Mango Sticky Mango Imperial Gose
Once You Go Craft - 2020 Beer of the Year Award for Wampi Foraged Sour
A collaboration between Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery, YAU produces three nice beers in Hong Kong: BOR YAU Lager, FAT SIU YAU Pale Ale and CHU PANG GAU YAU Wheat. It has gorgeous packaging, designed by BrainRental Lab showcasing Hong Kong’s design talent, and on its website, YAU talks a lot about its connection with Hong Kong. We hope that’s going to translate into some new unique HK brews from YAU soon.
Young Master Brewery
Much has been written about Young Master since they began in 2013 (we recommend this article by Christopher DeWolf). As their recent awards’ haul demonstrates, they have so many excellent beers that it’s difficult to decide what to try first. We are huge fans of Cha Chaan Teng Sour Gose, and next on our list to try is Days of Brewing Wild – a blended, barrel-aged, wild-fermented Flanders-style beer that makes use of the microorganisms present in the wine barrels used for ageing in order to supplement fermentation. Their CBD-infused HEA is worth trying too; it’s widely available in Hong Kong as a pale ale and session ale.
Must-try: Another One Pale Ale, Cha Chaan Teng Sour Gose
Barth Haas Champion Large Size Brewery of Asia
Gold – IPA for Jeng
Gold – Sour Beer for Days of Brewing Wild
Silver – Pale Ale for Classic Pale Ale
Bronze – Double IPA for 1842 Island
Bronze – Gose for Cha Chaan Teng Sour
Best Pale Ale 2020 for Another One
Best Sour 2020 for Days of Brewing Wild
Best Specialty 2020 for Gimme S’more
Gold – Double IPA for 1842 Island
Gold – English IPA 6–9% for Beer Hug
Gold – European Sour/Flanders Red Ale 6–9% for Days of Brewing Wild
Gold – Pale Ale/British Bitter/Ordinary Bitter 3–6% for Another One
Gold – Porter/Stout 9–12% for Hak Mo Sheung
Gold – Specialty Experimental Beer 9–12% for Gimme S’more
Gold – Specialty IPA 6–9% for Fake Juice
Silver – IPA/American IPA 6–9% for Jeng
Silver – Pale Lager German Pils 3–6% for Captain’s Bar Beer
Silver – Sour/European Sour/Berliner Weisse 3–6% for Gimlet in Berlin
Silver – Specialty Spice, Herb or Vegetable Beer 3–6% for O.V.T. Pilsner
Bronze – Pale Ale/Pale American Ale 3–6% for Classic Pale Ale
Bronze – Pale Ale/Pale American Ale 3–6% for HEA Pale Ale
Bronze – Sour 6–9% for Ham Sup Margarita
Bronze – Specialty Fruit Beer 3–6% for Ding Ding Orange & Bergamot Pale Ale
Excellent local craft beer resources
- Do a home-brewing workshop
- Get the Untappd app to record notes and find out what people around you are drinking
- Go to Beerhound to get a mixed case of locals (too easy) – use promo code “foodie” for a couple of freebies
- Craftissimo and HK Brewcraft are the biggest supplies of local beers
- There’s a very diverse selection of HK beer on Mango Store
- Order Straight from the Tank when you have a favourite
- Check out the Hong Kong Homebrewers Association for information on home-brewing competitions
Where can you get craft beer in Hong Kong?
On tap in HK Island
- The Globe, SoHo, Central, @theglobehk, theglobe.com.hk
- 65 Peel, SoHo, Central, @65peel, www.facebook.com/65peel
- Alvy’s, Kennedy Town, @alvyshk, www.facebook.com/AlvysHK
- Second Draft, Tai Hang, @seconddrafthk, Second Draft on Untappd
- Hong Kong Island Taphouse, Tin Hau, facebook.com/HKIslandTaphouse
- The Roundhouse, SoHo, Central, @roundhousetaps, facebook.com/RoundhouseKB
- Blue Supreme (some really unique beers here), Sheung Wan, bluespreme.live
On tap in Kowloon & the islands
- The Ale Project, Mongkok, @thealeproject, thealeproject.com
- Tipsy Tap, TST, @tipsytap.hk, facebook.com/TIPSYTAP.HK
- Momentai, Sai Kung, @momentailah, momentai-la.com
- Once You Go Craft, Tai Kok Tsui, @onceyougocraft, facebook.com/onceyougocraft
To buy for home
- HK Brewcraft, Central, @hkbrewcraft, hkbrewcraft.com
- The Kappening, Prince Edward, @the_kappening, thekappening.com
- Craftissimo, Sheung Wan, @craftissimohk, craftissimo.hk
- Beerhound, Wong Chuk Hang, beerhound.com.hk
- Secret Bottle, Yuen Long, @secret.bottle.hk, secretbottlehk.store
- Angry Beer, Admiralty and Mongkok, @angrybeerhk, angrybeer.com.hk
- Mango Store (中文), mangostore.co
- KTown Liquor, Kennedy Town, @ktownliquor.hk, facebook.com/ktownliquor.hk
- CAVE Beer Point, Mei Foo, @cavebeerpoint, facebook.com/cavebeerpoint
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