Second Draft - Beer and The Feast
To think of food for beer, one naturally narrows its mind down to peanuts and crisps, or may be fish and chips, than some proper French gastronomy. But the fact is for any fine dining, there are high enough quality beers to match, and they can often bring surprises.
Opened for a year in Tai Hang, 2nd Draft is the sister restaurant of TAP The Ale Project in Mong Kok. The main difference is that in here, the food is also a key thing as well as beer. This is less common among beer bars, and that’s thanks to one of the owners: May Chow, Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2017 designated by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, who is responsible for the menu. “Many of the classics gets re-interpreted,” said general manager James Ling.
To give an example, the picturesque Flower Crab Pasta is a Chinese version of a carbonara except with crab meat. Tossed well with raw egg yolk and dark vinegar, the density of the noodle is brilliantly balanced by the pairing fruity beer, whose crispiness cuts into the richness. “We’re planning to organize beer pairing dinner, from appetizers to dessert, each with pairing beer. As guests eat and drink, we would give the beers’ background and style alongside,” said James. This is similar to fine dining tasting dinner in the wine world, but it’s quite a novel thing when it comes to beer. But first of all, there are wonderful dishes here to make it happen.
Speaking of beer, there are as many as 26 draft taps, “probably the second largest selection in Hong Kong,” said James. But he said what’s important is having a large range of selection with certain specialties. In addition to best sellers and the crisp ones, it has to include the niche and rare ones “to raise your calibre.” On the day of interview there was a lambic beer imported from Belgium. Having aged for two years , it was almost flat but aromas bursted out. With high acidity it tastes more like white wine than beer. “Nevermind giving the beer’s name, it should have been sold out when this book went to press,” James joked. He always imported in small batches, for freshness of the beer as well as for the guests.
In addition to the quality of the beer itself, the way it is served also played a decisive role in the taste, James pointed out. 2nd Draft fridges beers in three different temperatures. “This is a unique setting among Hong Kong’s craft beer bar. Three refrigerators are 3-5 degrees, 11-13 degrees and 14-16 degrees. Different types of beer should be drunk in different temperatures, put it simply, the more complex the beer, the warmer it is supposed to be served, “ explained James.
If you think drinking all beer is dull, here is a “boilermaker” series for you. “Originally the term meant a whisky going with a beer-chaser, but it’s getting more sophisticated. In foreign countries such as Melbourne, there are specialized boilermaker houses.” In 2nd draft, other than whisky-beer pairing, you can also have rum and beer to match.
在大坑開了一年的2nd Draft，是旺角名店TAP The Ale Project的姐妹店。兩者的最大分別是，大坑這家除了主打啤酒外，食物也是重點推介，這是啤酒吧中較少有的。因為餐廳的其中一位老闆正是（Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants大賞頒發的）亞洲最佳女廚師2017 May Chow，菜單也由她所設計，「不少都是經典美食的重新演繹」，2nd Draft的總經理James Ling說。
例如相機食先精選的賽螃蟹麵，事實上是Carbonara，但用上了蟹肉，再加上生蛋黃和鎮江醋拌勻去吃。麵條濃滑的味道和口感，正好靠清爽而果香豐富的啤酒去破開油膩感，從而達至一個美味平衡。「未來我們計劃舉辦beer pairing dinner，由頭盤至甜品，一道一道菜去上桌，再每道菜配一款啤酒。客人一邊吃喝，我們就一邊介紹各款啤酒的背景，以及style。」James說。這種像有個侍酒師照顧一場fine dining的tasting dinner，在啤酒界來說可謂相當新穎，而且更是這裡有精彩菜餚這個先決條件，才能做到。
若嫌單飲啤酒太簡單，這裡供應一系列的boilermaker，「這個詞語最開始的時候是指一杯威士忌加一杯啤酒（chaser），但現在更講究配搭，在外國、如墨爾本，更有boilermaker house。」而在2nd Draft，除了有威士忌和啤酒的配搭，更有冧酒和啤酒的配搭。近期用的冧酒是Old Kraken Spiced Rum，甜、濃、充滿雲呢拿和拖肥香，James指會配上同樣口感豐富而味道香濃的imperial stout。