HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - Mar 13, 2014) - Hong Kong Beer Company Limited, established in 1995, was acquired in August 2013 by Devin Otto Kimble and Daniel Flores, the founders of Singapore's multiple award-winning Brewerkz Restaurants & Microbreweries. Brewerkz was a pioneer of the local craft beer movement when it opened in 1997 and since that time the Singapore beer industry has grown to nearly a dozen breweries and all but one of them specializes in making craft beer. Looking to be part of the same kind of vibrancy in the local Hong Kong scene, the new owners have re-launched HKBC and put in place a team with over 100 years of craft beer industry experience in Asia and the United States.
"For over a decade, Daniel and I have been looking for the right opportunity to enter the Hong Kong market and are thrilled to be part of the great group of craft beer people now involved with this historically significant company," says HKBC co-owner and director Devin Otto Kimble. "We believe Hong Kong's craft beer scene is becoming the most exciting in Asia. A wave of imported craft beers is now washing over the market and a couple of new local microbreweries have opened in recent weeks with several more in the planning stages. Our goal is to transform Hong Kong Beer Co. into a world-class brewery and become a significant part of the rising tide of craft beer in Hong Kong."
Certainly the key to making great beer is the brewmaster and HKBC is proud to have Simon Pesch in charge of its brewery operations. Prior to arriving in Hong Kong, Simon led a team of 20 at Pyramid Brewery in Berkeley, California. While there he managed to win 9 Great American Beer Festival medals, including 6 golds, and the Brewers Association, America's largest craft beer organization, bestowed Simon with the coveted mid-sized brewery Brewer of the Year award.
Simon says, "I'm from San Francisco, which has always been at the forefront of the craft beer movement in the States. When I started home brewing 25 years ago, the number of breweries on America's West Coast was barely in double digits. Now there are about 3,000 breweries in the US, most of them small, and some pundits say that in the near future craft beer may reach 50% market share in places like the Bay Area. In Hong Kong, on the other hand, the microbrewery scene is really small but after my first trip here, I saw how advanced the city is and figured that if the craft beer market is like nearly everything else, it would catch up quickly. I'm thinking what took 20 years to happen with craft beer in the US might take only 5 years in Hong Kong and that's a really exciting opportunity for me."
Simon is introducing five new labels at Beertopia, Hong Kong's premier craft beer festival, which is taking place from 13 - 15 March 2014. HKBC's flagship is Hong Kong Beer, an American-style Amber Lager that is a crisp and refreshing but still flavorful, locally-brewed alternative to the mass-produced beers that now dominate the market. The lightest beer in the portfolio is Gambler's Gold, a Golden Ale designed to be a thoroughly thirst quenching and sessionable beer. Dragon's Back is a heritage label for HKBC and will now appear on a classic Pale Ale that features judicious use of American hops during the boil and subsequent dry hopping to boost aroma. Big Wave Bay IPA is named for the beach at the end of the Dragon's Back Trail that wends its way through the hills near the brewery. Our Big Wave Bay is a robust but well-balanced, dry-hopped, West-Coast-style India Pale Ale with a rich base of malt and a wallop of American Cascade hops. Rounding out the year-round offerings is the Sevens Stout, a tribute to the rugby classic, made, as the name would suggest, with seven different types of malts. The addition of rolled oats gives this big, dark stout a silky and seductive mouth-feel.
All of HKBC's beers are handcrafted in our 20-barrel, American-made system that was constructed by JVNW, Inc., one of the first microbrewery equipment specialists and still an industry leader. Recently relocated from its original Aberdeen site, the brewery now sits in an airy, ground-floor space in the far eastern Hong Kong Island district of Chai Wan. In its current configuration, HKBC's brewing capacity is approximately 6,000 hectoliters (6,000,000 liters or 5,000 barrels) per year. While the tanks are in excellent condition, the chilling plant and labeling machine needed replacing and have been substantially upgraded as a result. In addition the bottle filler has been retrofitted with a nitrogen purging system that pre-evacuates bottles prior to filling and a fobber that allows capping on foam. Together these upgrades substantially reduce oxygenation of the beer during packaging resulting in increased shelf-life and product quality. In an effort to improve production speeds and beer flavor even further, a faster, state-of-the-art bottle filler has been ordered to replace the current machine and will be delivered later in 2014. This new model is from the German manufacturer Leibinger, which has developed what it calls a "balloon" filler that eliminates the need for CO2 during bottling and reduces oxygen pick-up from packaging to just a few parts per billion. HKBC will be the first brewery in Asia to receive this cutting edge, award-winning technology.
A wonderful beer deserves great graphics for its packaging and other design needs. For this reason, HKBC is working with Cultivator Advertising & Design, a Denver, Colorado-based firm that has created a host of memorable beer labels for some of the craft beer world's most recognized brands. They have completely transformed HKBC's presentation, giving the company a new logo, which appears at the top of this press release. In addition labels have been totally revamped along with beer names to match the new line-up of styles.
Originally called South China Brewing Company when it was established in 1995, the company's name was changed to Hong Kong Beer Co. in 2003. South China Brewing Company was Asia's first packaging craft brewery. Nineteen years later, Hong Kong Beer Co. is still one of only three craft breweries operating in Hong Kong, which has an affluent population of 7.5 million and over 50 million annual tourists, and one of the few in the entire Pearl River Delta, a region with over 60 million inhabitants. For contrast consider that Portland, Oregon, a city of 600,000, boasts over 50 craft breweries and has earned a reputation as a craft beer mecca. "Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo also have vibrant local brewery scenes," comments Kimble. "At HKBC, we hope to do our part in elevating Hong Kong's craft beer culture with our passion for quality, innovation and brewing tradition and aspire to make a full range of world-class beers for a cosmopolitan city that deserves the best."