With the craft beer movement taking off, Dorothy So cracks open some of the coolest bottles on the market. Photography by Calvin Sit
|Anchor Steam ($140/355ml, six-pack) California, USA
Launched in 1896, this amber-hued brew is one of the first real craft beers to come out of the States. This bottle is far from ol’ fashioned though and combines old-world brewing traditions with modern methods. The beer is crisp and hoppy with tones of caramel and malt. A great bottle for those who are new to craft beers. AmeriCraft Imports, 9311 3082; www.americraftimports.com.
|Baird Shimaguni Stout ($32/360ml) Numazu, Japan
This Irish dry stout is brewed in Numazu by an American man who married a Japanese lady (Bryan and Sayuri Baird). It’s malty with roasty, almost coffee-like undertones. “I believe in this brewery 110 percent,” says Jeff Boda, who founded the beer importing company Hop Leaf. And after tasting this brilliant bottle, you’ll be paying attention to Baird too. Hop Leaf, www.hopleaf.hk.
|Früli Strawberry Beer ($58/330ml) Ghent, Belgium
This Belgian white beer will convert even the most adamant anti-boozer. It’s brewed with pure strawberry juice and the resulting bouquet is reminiscent of sweet berry yoghurt. It’s sweet and fruit-forward without venturing into saccharine territory. Yes, this is pretty gorgeous stuff. The Globe, 45-53 Graham St, Central, 2543 1941; www.theglobe.com.hk.
|Chatoe Rogue Good Chit Pilsner ($52/650ml) Oregon, USA
Often considered one of the big daddies of American craft beers, Rogue continues to impress with its wide range of beer styles. The brewery grows its own ingredients and also floor-malts a Rogue farm barley for this pilsner. The resulting brew is crisp and light with a slight bready and grassy finish. Pair with fish, salads or citrusy desserts. Hop Leaf, www.hopleaf.hk.
|Meantime Union ($70/330ml) London, UK
This dark, malty Vienna lager carries light notes of caramel and biscuit. The roasty flavours make it a good companion for slightly heavier meat or carb-based dishes. It’s quite carbonated but the bubbles are extremely fine and the finish is neat and crisp. As The Globe’s Toby Cooper puts it, ‘this is an elegant beer’. The Globe, 45-53 Graham St, Central, 2543 1941; www.theglobe.com.hk.
|McLaren Vale Beer ($60/330ml) McLaren Vale, Australia
McLaren Vale may be best known for its wines but this award-winning ale proves that the terroir is equally great for producing awesome suds. It starts with pronounced hops and a crisp bitterness that gradually mellows out into rounded, malty flavours with an ever-so-soft hint of honey. The Flying Winemaker, 31 Wyndham St, Central, 2522 2187; www.eddiemcdougall.com.
|Big Sky IPA ($140/355ml, six-pack) Montana, USA
Typical of a US India Pale Ale, Big Sky is a bold, hoppy beer brew that demands plenty of attention. The bottle has its delicate side too and is extremely vibrant with plenty of fruit on the nose and a refreshing belt of citrus in the finish. It’s officially our favourite summertime beer. AmeriCraft Imports, 9311 3082; www.americraftimports.com.
|St Austell Proper Job ($78/500ml) Cornwall, UK
This is bottle conditioned, resulting in a citrusy, almost lychee-like bouquet. There are three hops here – willamette, chinook and cascade – which gives a lot of flavour but also balance. Definitely try this. The Globe, 45-53 Graham St, Central, 2543 1941; www.theglobe.com.hk.
|Ginga Kogen Silver Bottle ($25/300ml bottle) Iwate, Japan
Most serious suds lovers are already familiar with Hitachino, but if you want to explore further into Japanese craft bottles, check out Ginga Kogen. This unfiltered German-style wheat beer packs a peaty, sulphuric punch straight out of the bottle but quickly develops a sweet and fruit-led flavour when poured into the glass. Decant before drinking. CitySuper, citywide including shop 1041-1049, 1/F, IFC Mall, 8 Finance St, 2234 7128.
|Monteith’s Single Source ($438/330ml, 24 pack) West Coast, New Zealand
This lager is best served very chilled. It’s a dry brew with a yeasty, bitter profile and a tinge of smoke and spice on the finish. This may be too light for some but those who like subtler flavours will appreciate this beer. Wine n’ Things, www.winenthingshk.com.
Best places to sip on suds
This gastropub boasts one of the most exciting craft beer lists in town. The selection ranges from hoppy wheat beers to malt-heavy stouts. It’s also one of the only places to carry Hong Kong’s Typhoon Brewery beers on draught. 45-53 Graham St, Central, 2543 1941; www.theglobe.com.hk.
The menu covers more than 80 different Belgian brews. Browse through their trappist beers, which are brewed by monasteries under a strict set of rules. Our recommendation? Go for the Rochefort 10. G/F, Oxford House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Rd, Quarry Bay, 2250 5188.
Hong Kong Brew House
There’s your usual suspects – but most come for the imported microbrews. There’s a great selection from the UK, and they also stock Mont Blanc beers from France. 21 D’Aguilar St, Central, 2522 5559.
The Beer Bay
You’ll find excellent boutique bottles here. The selection is UK-centric, with standouts such as Marston’s Hogoblin. This is also one of the cheapest places in town to score great craft beers. Unit K4, Pier 4, Central Ferry Pier, 3481 7290; www.thebeerbay.com.hk.
The Tasting Rack
Consider this a mobile venue that offers beer tastings aboard a yacht. Each session usually covers six beers. Food pairings are also available, as well as a beer critic to explain each brew. www.tastingrack.com.
Learn how to make your own beer here