Tai Wai Beer
Does Tai Wai Beer taste best in Tai Wai district? That is a joke of Henry and Wendy, the couple behind the Hong Kong craft brewery. They have a special feeling of the Tai Wai district they live in. In a Cantonese pun, Tai Wai also means a large group of friends getting together, the brand is launch with a vision to create a beer to be enjoyed with “Tai Wai (all of us).”
Another addition to the army of local craft brewery, Tai Wai Beer began its life early this year, with the first brew in the market as late as May. All this was a result of an unintentional decision. “Two years ago we’re supposed to make whisky at home, the wood cask was only a click away from online shopping site! Then we took a step back and thought we did not have patience to wait three years (of aging), but since the equipment were there, we decided to buy a fermenting jar and brewed beer instead,” recalled Henry. The result was highly regarded among his friends, and that motivated him to constantly improve it and ultimately became a business.
A mixologist by profession, Henry took heed from the beginning to infuse different tastes into the beer. His choice is various western tea and flowers and herbs, “They give distinctive tastes to beer, and there haven’t been similar efforts in Hong Kong. I’ve been experimenting tea with beer since the beginning.” Up to now there are four styles under the brand, named in numbers. “No. 1” is pilsner infused with camomile, “No. 2” being earl grey flavoured amber ale, “No.3” is verbena flavour saison, while “No. 4” is pale ale brewed with blackcurrant and roselle hibiscus.
All these tea flavours are the favourite for Hong Kongers, especially ladies. But Henry did not choose this to accommodate local taste: “basically I chose the flavours to best match the beer style. For example, a crisp pilsner goes well with the mellowness of chamomile, while the “countryside” saison matches with the grassy and lemony verbena.”
Inconsistency is the common problem among small breweries. The way Henry address this is stricter quality control. “For every 20 bottles, I will have a small glass to check if it has the right taste. If it doesn’t taste right, I’ll take the whole cask home to finish it myself. Costs are high, but money can’t buy prestige.”
大圍啤是否在大圍喝最好喝？大圍啤的創辦人 Henry 和 Wendy 兩夫婦笑說，住在大圍的他們對大圍有深厚感情，但大圍同時有「一班朋友聚在一起」的意思，他們希望這是一款能為「大圍（大家）」帶來快樂的啤酒。
Henry本身是一個調酒師，這個背景令他一開始釀啤酒時，已經想將不同的味道融入啤酒中，他選定的就是各種西洋茶款和花草茶。「我覺得以茶融入啤酒口味較獨特，而且香港暫時未有。其實我一開始自釀啤酒時，就已經是試不同的西洋茶入啤酒。」大圍啤暫時有四款，名為壹號、貳號、叄號和肆號。壹號是洋甘菊口味Pilsner，貳號是伯爵茶味Amber Ale、叄號是馬鞭草味Saison，而肆號就是黑加侖子搭洛神花的Pale Ale。