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HK yau for Hong Kong buddies

香港友飲好啤酒

When Carlsberg is joining the craft beer pool, it means the once minority hobby formally becomes the mainstream. Wouldn’t it be nice when those fine ales can accompany your favourite stir-fry in Dai Pai Dong?

 

Craft beer had been some fashionable stuff for the aficionado. They may have been drinking specialty coffee or whisky, or they had lived abroad for some years, so they aspire for different kinds of of beer. Nowadays the market grew and craft breweries are all around in the city. They make all kinds of beers, but the breweries’ main hits are usually the “strong” kinds of ales, but the novice may want to start with lighter ones. The craft beer market grew, nevertheless, now reaching a three per cent market share in Hong Kong. “We think there’s much room forward. We’re working to grow the market, and hope its share can reach 12 per percent,” said Peter Poon, executive director of Carlsberg. HK Yau was created out of an effort to reach out to those who never had their first try of the specialty brew.

 

The great advantage of Carlsberg is its responsiveness to what customers want. With years of sale experience it cultivated solid consumer reach, backed by regular market research by external research firms for a thorough understanding of the market’s taste. “We find that lighter body means better market reception.” As such, HK Yau’s three initial brews, pale ale, wheat beer and lager, are all low in bitterness and easy going. That aside it does respond to the recent “coriander craze” with its coriander and preserved mandarin peel white beer!

 

On top of that, scalable production it is possible to put quality control measures like batch tests in place, and source globally for materials. What’s more, HK Yau can leverage on the group’s enormous distribution and transport network, and all these can ensure freshness which is critical to craft beer.

 

The recipes for HK Yau come from Brooklyn Brewery in New Work, a prestigious thirty-year old establishment in craft beer with a huge scale. For those three brews, representatives of Brooklyn already flew to Hong Kong five times to research on the local taste. “We brought them to wet market, and tried many authentic flavours such as char siu (barbecued pork, Cantonese steamed seafood, preserved mandarin peel from Yiu Fung confessionary store and dried mango, among many other things.” Peter said it took a year and a half to go from planning to research through production. Other beer flavours should be coming around.

 

Only available in draft for the time, the brand aims to reach 65 restaurants in the short term. They are mostly mid-high end restaurants and hotel bars, with food to match each of the three beers. The crisp lager should go well with stir-fries, coriander and preserved mandarin peel white beer is a natural pair for steamed seafood with preserved black beans. For the citrusy pale ale, ideal matches are honeyed barbecues. It must be an enjoyable thing to drink HK Yau in Dai Pai Dong one day!

當嘉士伯也賣手工啤,那是甚麼概念?就是手工啤真的要進入主流了!若在大排檔吃著小炒的時候,都有適合的手工啤可以喝,那不是很好嗎?

 

手工啤本來是一小撮人的時髦玩意,他們可能本身飲開手沖咖啡、威士忌,或在外國生活過,所以追求不一樣的啤酒。當然,近年本地也出現很多手工啤酒廠,大家都有較清爽的酒款,但被當作主打的,一般都又濃又烈,但初入門者始終想要轉輕盈的口味。在不知不覺間,原來手工啤在香港的市佔率已達到3%!「我們覺得很有發展空間,目標是做大個餅,希望手工啤市佔率升到12%!」嘉士伯執行董事Peter Poon說。要讓更多人接觸手工啤,要向更多未飲過的人著手,於是「香港友」這個品牌就誕生了。

 

嘉士伯最大的優勢,就是多年的本地銷售經驗令他們能接觸最多客戶,背後還要有定期由市場調查公司進行的調查,以全面了解市場口味。「我們發現酒底較輕盈,消費者會更易接受。」因此香港友三個酒款分別是Pale Ale、Wheat beer和Lager,都是苦度低,易入口的酒款。別的不說,就是陳皮芫茜味的小麥啤,就已經完全追上近期本地的芫茜熱!

 

另外,要做品質控制其實每一環都是錢,例如每個批次都做檢測(batch test),在購買所需材料時又可全球採購,加上本身龐大的分銷網,還有運輸隊,這些元素不單讓手工啤可以接觸更多人,也可以確保啤酒的新鮮度。

 

香港友的配方由來自紐約的Brooklyn Brewery研發,這酒廠已有近三十年歷史,而且規模很大,是美國的優秀手工啤酒廠。雖然目前只有三個酒款,原來Brooklyn酒廠的人已特地來過香港5次,去研究香港人的口味,「我們帶他們到街市,吃很多地道風味如叉燒、廣東蒸海鮮,還有么鳳的陳皮、芒果乾等,總之試了很多東西。」Peter指由計劃至研究和生產,足足花了一年半的時間。雖然暫時只有三款啤酒,但未來其他款式應該陸續有來。

 

啤酒暫時只有生啤供應,目標是短期內達到65家食肆分銷點。這些都集中在中高檔的餐廳和酒店酒吧,同時附帶食物配搭的用餐選擇。理論上清爽的Lager最適合配小炒,芫茜陳皮小麥啤當然就配豉汁蒸海鮮,至於柑橘味重的Pale Ale,配燒味就最理想。真期待香港友可盡快推廣至最地道的大排檔!