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Header image courtesy of TAP—The Ale Project (via Facebook)
Originally published by Thomas Chan. Last updated by Annette Chan.
Bars and restaurants have come back to life, and a semblance of normalcy lingers in the air. For those who like a cold, hoppy one after a long day, surrounded by friends and chatting the night away, this change of pace comes as welcome news. Folks have been saying for a while that Hong Kong’s craft beer scene is saturated and getting mainstream as it continues to develop over the years, so it’s always great to see craft beer joints with something unique to offer. Here are our go-to choices for the best craft beer spots in Hong Kong.
Second Draft is right at the entrance of Tai Hang—one of our favourite precincts to explore—and it is well-known for its cosy and hipster vibe, without any of the pretentiousness of up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Its interior design will take you back to 1970s Hong Kong, a time when everything was classier (we sense subtle influences from iconic Wong Kar-wai films), and the seatings have a distinct cha chaan teng character. Still, the dimmed ambience and wooden surroundings give out a unique atmosphere.
Second Draft serves dishes that pay homage to Hong Kong’s East-meets-West cuisine. Our favourite is their Tai Hang fries ($78)—have you ever tried fries topped with cumin dust and dried chilli, served with takana (タカナ), a pickled Japanese mustard green? It goes well with any of Second Draft’s local and international craft selections (but it was Young Master’s Saison IPA that did the magic for us).
Second Draft, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang | (+852) 2656 0232
Although this bar in Lan Kwai Fong has a cheeky new (English) name, it is, in fact, the new location of 65 Peel, the beloved Canto gastropub that occupied Candour’s old spot in Soho. While a few things have not changed—the tongue-in-cheek branding and distinctly Hong Kong flair—the new digs are bigger, brighter, and decorated with a huge hand-drawn dragon mural on its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Its larger space is reflected in extended menus, with plenty of local representation on the beer menu in the form of Citi Brew, HK Whistle, Foam, Black Kite, Mak’s Brewery, and Moonzen. If you want to, you can even pour your own beer from a cask when you order Yardley Brothers’ cask-conditioned summer ale. Come peckish—the 24-hour slow-cooked Ibérico char siu egg rice ($178) is not to be missed.
Ho Lan Jeng, 2/F, LKF29, 29 Wyndham Street, Central | (+852) 2342 2224
Every time you visit The Madhouse in either Mong Kok or Causeway Bay, chances are, they will have replaced their entire tap selection and you can look forward to trying something new! Its frequently rotating menu from across the seas is what makes this craft beer spot so special. Expect ciders from New Zealand, double IPAs from Norway, imperial stouts from Scotland, and indie selections from local breweries. As for the food, The Madhouse offers a range of Taiwanese snacks that match the hoppy or fruity flavours of their selection just right—we personally recommend the moreish “Evil” spam fries ($78) with Yu Kwen Yick chilli sauce mayo.
Opened by local craft brewery Moonzen—which is itself inspired by the “door gods” of the same name—this Chinese mythology-inspired gastropub in Mong Kok is one of the most visually striking craft beer spots around, with sumptuous temple-inspired interiors designed by Heed Studio and a retro mural by Keith Cheung.
After Moonzen sold the bar to De Luna Group, the beer selection has widened considerably, with other big local players like Yardley Brothers, Deadman Brewery, and Carbon Brews available alongside international pours. However, visitors will be pleased to hear that the bar has maintained its eye-catching style, even in its latest branch at K11 Art Mall—all rich red velvet, gleaming gold fixtures, and arched windows.
Tucked away among the lash salons, opticians, and supplement stores on Johnston Road, Hoppy Junction is a quiet and friendly neighbourhood bar. While its cosy space is reminiscent of pubs in the UK (albeit smaller), the beers available are mostly sourced from local breweries, with a penchant for funkier, experimental options.
In recent months alone, the good folks at Hoppy Junction have stocked CBG-infused beers from Young Master, a plum sour beer from Hong Kong Beer Co., and Breer’s pale ale made from surplus white bread. If you cannot bear to leave for supper—which we understand completely—there is also a menu of casual pub grub to dig into, including favourites like currywurst ($72) and calamari ($78).
Hoppy Junction, Shop G, Man Hee Mansion, 2–12A Johnston Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2555 1838
Of course, no list of the best places to enjoy craft beer in Hong Kong would be complete without TAP—The Ale Project. As a traditional craft beer joint—and basically the founding legend of Hong Kong’s craft brew scene—this is the place to go if you want to taste the latest local creations or re-visit the classics on tap, in addition to a full fleet of Young Master Brewery’s latest concoctions straight from their tanks.
Besides beer, they are also known for their innovative dishes, which includes dishes like the crispy Cajun wings with fermented tofu dip ($78). For something different, look to their more interesting drink options, like cold-brew coffee on a nitro-tap, and a small but interesting selection of biodynamic wine and all-natural sake.
TAP—The Ale Project, locations across Kowloon and New Territories
Occupying no more than a sliver of a shop, this Tai Kok Tsui bar manages to pack in a lot of personality—and a whopping eight taps!—into its teeny-tiny space. Even if you do not notice the pink neon sign of a lightning bolt, it’s pretty hard to miss the decal of New Zealand All Blacks icon Jonah Lomu splashed all over the shopfront.
Besides breweries like Carbon Brews, Young Masters, Heroes, and Yardley Brothers, Once You Go Craft also serves its own in-house IPA, as well as craft ciders, the occasional sake, and sparkling teas for teetotal visitors. A concise menu of finger-licking food is also available for hungry patrons, offering pulled pork burgers ($118), crispy onion rings ($98), and fish & chips ($138), among others.
Once You Go Craft, Shop B, G/F, Front Block, 24 Pok Man Street, Tai Kok Tsui | (+852) 6407 0063
Located on the top of Peel Street’s rowdiest segment, just under Staunton, this petite neighbourhood bar and bottle shop’s bread and butter is craft beer, whether local or not. Six draught taps offer some of the best-sellers, including Hong Kong Beer Co.’s Golden Ale and Dragon’s Back pale ale, while quirkier seasonal options (like Mikkeller’s delightful raspberry Berliner) can be found in the well-stocked fridges. Cocktail lovers will be pleased to know that a number of creative drinks by renowned mixologist Nikita Matveev (of The Old Man) are also available, including the crowd-pleasing guava gin & tonic, which is perfectly offset by a tart slice of grapefruit.
99 Bottles, 59A Peel Street, Soho, Central
Located along the Kennedy Town waterfront, this joint venture from Gweilo Beer and Woolly Pig restaurant group is one of the most spacious craft beer spots around—seating up to 150—and the only brewpub in Hong Kong. A working brewery behind the bar pumps out fresh Gweilo craft beer for thirsty visitors, while a delicious menu of gastropub bites like steak tartare ($140), ox cheek & bone marrow pie ($190), and Roman-style pizzas (starting from $160) offers plenty of sustenance. Besides draught beers, there are plenty of other beers and ciders available, the majority of which are imported from breweries in Australia, the UK, Denmark, and Vietnam.
Grain, Shop 1, New Fortune House, 3–5 New Praya, Kennedy Town | (+852) 3500 5870
Tipsy Tap is in the middle of a distinct area in Tsim Sha Tsui that’s known for its Korean shops and restaurants. Situated at the corner of busy Kimberly Street, this craft beer bar is quieter and cosier than other bars, so it’s the perfect go-to if you want to have an intimate conversation without the need to talk over other guests or loud background music. Its selection is small but focused, and its rotating selection has a wide range on offer, with a forte on the stronger beers like double IPAs and imperial stouts. A great way to sign the beer sesh off is to visit the Japanese skewer bars across the road or stimulate your senses even more with some spicy Korean food.
Tipsy Tap, 5 Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 6882 9840
All right, we might be cheating a little bit with this one: Even though Craftissimo is not a bar—it’s more of a bottle shop, really—it has captured the very essence of what a craft beer joint should be—individualistic, quirky, and never mainstream. Hop on over to Tai Ping Shan Street and check out their extensive list of canned and bottled selections, from refreshing limited-edition options to some of the quirkiest selections you will find across Hong Kong. From their ever-rotating draught beer list, you can even buy a pint from the tap and take a stroll around this unconventional area with a cold one in hand.
Craftissimo, Shop D, 22–24 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 6274 3130
Just a stone’s throw away from the crowds on Peel Street, you’ll find this newly opened craft beer and bottle shop on the bottom of Shin Hing Street, with a rocket neon sign announcing its presence among the ladder street’s restaurants and cafés. Its fridges boast a mix of local and imported craft beer in bottles and cans, while a rotating selection of draught beers can also be found on the taps.
The shop itself is small and narrow, so seating is limited, but come along on a busy night and you’ll find a block party-esque vibe with customers congregating on the steps outside. A small selection of bar snacks is available, which bodes well for those who avail themselves of the daily happy hour from 3 pm to 8 pm.
Out of the Brew, 3 Shin Hing Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 3489 0334