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The Bar Towel on the road: HONG KONG


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Special thanks go to Peter Smyth for writing this Hong Kong report.

When I was transferred to Hong Kong a few months ago, I suddenly found myself well outside of the Bar Towel's traditional sphere of influence. But rather than settling in for a Carlsberg or a San Miguel, which together account for over half of the beer sales in Hong Kong, I decided to continue to pursue the Bar Towel dream - that good beer is worth a search, and that the discovery of good beer should always be shared with others.

I'll try to send occasional updates on the beer scene out here, but for my inaugural report, I'd like to talk about one bar that I came across early in my travels - the East End Brewery.

The sign over the door reads "Let no man thirst for lack of good ale", and that pretty much sums up the reason d'etre of the place. While Hong Kong is not a real beer town - people prefer to go out for dinner, not drinks - the East End Brewery is one of this city's few beer oasis. Friendly English-speaking Pilipino wait staff keep you well supplied with beer and free peanuts, and the latest world sporting events are shown on their big screen. But while the atmosphere inside is fun and lively, what keeps people coming back is the beer. The vast majority of the East End's beers are bottled imports - San Francisco's Anchor Steam and Chico California's Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are on the menu, along with a number of other tasty brews.

But the real winners here are two of their drafts, the tangy Aldrich Bay Pale Ale and the full-bodied Too Soo Brew, both made by the award-winning Hong Kong SAR Brewing Company.

Aldrich Bay is a classic pale ale, warm fermented with a British ale yeast, almost entirely made from only one pale ale malt. The beer is slightly fruity while retaining a small amount of bitterness - a nice refreshing beer for Friday evenings.

Too Soo is a full-bodied lager - a slightly hoppy flavour is paired with a slightly red caramel colour, which comes from the Vienna malt used in the brewing process. Like the Aldrich Bay Pale, Too Soo is again a refreshing beer. Quite appropriate for a place that tends to be a lot hotter and more humid than Toronto.

As mentioned earlier, both beers are made exclusively for the East End Brewery by the Hong Kong S.A.R. Brewing Company, which was established in 1995 and prides itself on being Asia's first Microbrewery. Tours of the brewery are available, and their homepage can be found here.

The East End Brewery is in Quarry Bay, to the east end of Hong Kong island. The closest MTR station to the bar is Quarry Bay, and it sits a short stumble away from Taikoo Place, the large office complex in the area. Their phone number is (852) 2811 1907.

The next review I'll write will be a pub crawl along the escalator in central, ending at Hong Kong's infamous ex-pat bar - Dublin Jack's. Till next time.