24 October 2016
Young Master's craft beer is able to please both casual drinkers and serious beer nuts. Photos: Brendon Hong
Young Master's craft beer is able to please both casual drinkers and serious beer nuts. Photos: Brendon Hong

Hong Kong craft beer finds its fizz

Within an Aberdeen industrial estate is a gem. Young Master Ales is one of the few local craft beer breweries that has truly made a mark on Hong Kong’s dining scene.

In a very short time span, founder Rohit Dugar turned a hobby into a serious business, and created something new and exciting for Hong Kong.

Even in 2013, when Dugar founded Young Master, craft beer as a concept was not unfamiliar. But it was always something imported, and no one was making beer with local flavors built in.

Where was the innovation here in the city, with a dining scene that Hongkongers were so proud of?

The city was in essence a desert for good beer, so Dugar decided to shake things up. The jump from home-brewer to professional craft brewer was a quantum leap, especially here.

At the time, government regulation was shifting. Though craft breweries were legal, new licensing rules meant it was the first time bureaucrats were applying these standards.

There were questions that hadn’t exactly been addressed. Which spaces could be fitted to become microbreweries? How would the building codes and health inspection guidelines differ from those for major producers, like San Miguel? At what scale would different rules kick in?

It took a bit of micromanaging, but eventually Young Master Ales and its contemporaries were able to overcome the administrative difficulties and brew good beer.

Now, it’s much easier for entrepreneurial spirits to set up a small beer brewing operation. Many new brands, founded by both locals and expats, have arrived on scene within the past year.

Young Master’s productions are delicious, and offer a different culinary experience from the big names found in most supermarkets and bars.

They’re able to please both casual drinkers and serious beer nuts. In particular, a few beers stand out.

In The Mood For Spring (花釀年華), a seasonal offering named after Wong Kar-wai’s wonderful In the Mood for Love (花樣年華), is an easy saison infused with jasmine, chrysanthemum, and osmanthus.

Mo’ Mo’ Wit (夏日麼麼啤) is a Belgian witbier that is flavored with aged Mandarin orange peel (chan pei 陳皮) instead of the usual sweet orange peel.

Cha Chan Teng Gose (鹹檸啤) is brewed with salted lime commonly found in the lemon sodas of local dining establishments.

Cha Cha Soba Ale (淡啤酒) is brewed with local organic buckwheat with a matcha infusion.

All of these beers, and others, incorporate elements from the city’s cultural and culinary DNA.

Young Master has become so popular that it is now expanding into a second location to increase its brewing capacity.

Young Master’s brewery tour costs HK$150, which includes five drinks for visitors to enjoy—whatever is on tap on any given weekend—as they await the actual tour around the premises.

Dugar and his colleagues have a few beers available year-round, with many more seasonals and one-offs.

If you’re lucky enough to arrive before their Tàisuì beer (太歲啤) sells out, pick up a bottle or three. It’s a sharp, funky creation with a very distinct mouthfeel: dry, sour, weird.

Beer geeks will pause to say, “Wow!”

Visit Young Master Ales’ website for more information about the company, their beer, and where you can see them here.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight contributor

EJI Weekly Newsletter