The Oak Crafted – Beer and its reincarnation
Did you know where beer comes from? It is the fermentation product of malt or other grains. How about whisky? It is the distillate of beer. Having the same root, beer and whisky makes the theme of the Oak Crafted bar and show a wonderful chemistry.
Hong Kong-based City Brew has always focused on teaching, and tends to be experimental in brewing. Its latest attempt is a bar focused in beer and whisky. "Local breweries are relatively small. It will be more profitable if we can sell our products directly to the end users, and it can benefit the whole industry," Koey Chan, the person in charge of The Oak Crafted said. There are six beers taps in the bar, all of which sell only local craft beers, including "Hong Kong gentlemen", "Hong Kong ladies" and Jasmine Pale Ale, and the other three beer taps flows beer from Lion Mountain Beer, Yardley Brothers and Hong Kong beer Co.
The bar offers an innovative pairing among local craft beer bars - matching beer and whisky. "Beer is the previous life of whisky, their mouth feel and flavours go well together," Koey said. The bar offers two matches by now, first is the EB01-Oaked Barley Wine, which spent some time in barrel aging. The whisky to match it is Glenfiddich Experimental Series IPA cask, a limited edition whisky aged in IPA barrel. Another pairing is Hong Kong gentlemen Stout with the independent bottler Cadenhead's Deanston 19 Years. You can enjoy the pairing by having a sip of the whisky, followed by a sip of beer. It really tastes different than drinking alone, and easier to discover some of the hidden taste. It is a wonderful experience for both whisky or craft beer lovers.
To reinforce City Brew;s enthusiasm of craft beer teaching, bar staff has substantial knowledge about craft beer, some of them were even awarded the Cicerone certification. The bar holds“Meet the brewers” section regularly, and collect crafted beers all around the world that rarely seen in Hong Kong. Recently there is a set of seven limited canned beer, which are from Taiwan of the 3000 Brewseum Hengchun. All of these allow guests to get a more comprehensive craft beer experience.
During happy hours, when the bar is less busy, customers can order “whatever” from the menu, for those guests who could not make a choice from the menu. The bar manager would judge from how the guest looks and to choose a beer that would suit him most, give him a crash ouand give the guest some basic knowledge of the beer. "There was once a very cheerful male guest ordered “whatever”. He speaks very fast and very cheerful. I chose a fresh taste Saison IPA for him. He liked it very much and find the beer very fragrant, and he never know there is such a style of beer. Because of this "whatever", we talked for half an hour, and shared some craft beer knowledge with him. This is not a formal beer lesson, but the guests can learn something while enjoying the beer.” Koey shared.
啤酒從何而來？就是麥芽或一些其他穀物發酵而來。威士忌又從何而來呢？就是將啤酒蒸餾得來。啤酒與威士忌，本是同根生，以這兩項飲品作為The Oak Crafted酒吧主題，就顯出了精彩的化學作用。
本港啤酒廠城釀一向著重教學，在釀啤酒時，實驗性也比較強。今次再來新嘗試，就是開設酒吧，主打手工啤和威士忌。「本地手工啤酒廠規模較小，如可將成品直接賣給顧客，利潤較高，對整個行業都有好處。」The Oak Crafted負責人Koey Chan說。酒吧暫時有六個生啤頭，全部都只賣本地手工啤，包括城釀自家出品「港男」、「港女」和Jasmine Pale Ale，另外三個啤酒頭則分別來自獅子山啤、Yardley Brothers和Hong Kong beer的出品。
酒吧有一款在本地手工啤酒吧來說很創新的配搭，就是啤酒和威士忌配對。「啤酒就是威士忌的前身，口感和味道都很夾。」Koey說。暫時酒吧提供兩個配搭，其中一款是浸過橡木桶的啤酒EB01-Oaked Barley Wine，配浸過啤酒桶的限量版威士忌——Glenfiddich experimental series IPA cask；另一款配搭是城釀港男Stout，配上獨立裝瓶品牌Cadenhead的Deanston 19年。飲起來時可以一口威士忌，然後一口啤酒去喝，果然口感會變得很特別，並較容易嚐出一些較隱藏的味道，對威士忌迷或手工啤迷來說，都是一個精彩的體驗。
另外，延續城釀在手工啤教學方面的熱誠，酒吧裡的員工都對手工啤有認識，更有部份已考取Cicerone認證，酒吧亦會定期舉辦與釀酒師會面（Meet the brewers）的環節，並會在世界各地搜羅香港少見的手工啤，今期就有來自台灣恒春3000啤酒博物館的七款限量罐裝啤酒供應，這些都可讓酒客可得到更多的不同的手工啤體驗。