Header image courtesy of TAP—The Ale Project (via Facebook)
With the vaccines slowly rolling in and restaurants steadily coming back to life, we can start to smell normalcy from afar. After all, who doesn’t like a cold, hoppy one after a long day, surrounded by friends (three, to be exact) and chatting the night away—at least until 10 pm? Folks have been saying for a while that Hong Kong’s craft beer scene is saturated and getting mainstream, 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 (did anyone say Wong Kar-wai?), and the seatings have a distinct cha chaan teng influence. Still, the dimmed ambience and wooden surrounding give out a unique atmosphere.
Every dish they serve is a 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 really well with any of Second Draft’s local and international craft selection (but Young Master’s Saison IPA did the magic).
Second Draft, G/F, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang | (+852) 2656 0232
Tipsy Tap is in the middle of a distinct area in Tsim Sha Tsui that’s known for its Korean shops and restaurants. But 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. Tipsy Tap’s selection is smaller than the others, but more focused, and their 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, G/F, 5 Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 6882 9840
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 “Evil” spam fries ($78) with Yu Kwen Yick chilli sauce mayo.
Did you know that Filipino food is a natural match with craft beers? Visit Taps & Bites for their lovely Pinoy menu and a small but carefully selected draught list. Order their crispy pork belly ($110) and chicken bites ($98) and let the spice and richness mix with a cold and freshly pulled IPA in hand. Other notable dishes include the grilled calamari ($95), topped with chopped tomatoes, and baked oysters ($30), which will leave you wanting for more for the seafood lovers. If you’re feeling lucky, why not try out the chugging competition and see how you rank on the leaderboard? Make it into the top five and the beer is on the house!
Taps & Bites, G/F, 7 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai | (+852) 2714 2677
Of course, no list of the best places to enjoy craft beer 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. 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.
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, G/F, 22–24 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 6274 3130