Bar review: Zhang Men Craft Brewery, Tsim Sha Tsui – a worthy addition to Hong Kong’s growing list of craft beer houses
Serving not only beers from its Taiwanese parent brewery but a range that includes Hong Kong craft brews and international offerings, this bar is well worth a visit for people who are serious about their beer
The vibe: a no-frills tap room owned by Taiwan’s Zhang Men Brewing Company. This is their first outlet outside Taiwan, and a dimly lit, businesslike room with a long bar welcomes beer lovers. Wood, brick and stainless steel dominate the decor, and a blue glow emanates from the chiller cabinets behind the bar. Simple and utilitarian in design, everything about the place proclaims a great seriousness about brews.
Two staff members have qualified as a Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone respectively under the Cicerone Certification Programme – the beer world’s equivalent to sommelier qualifications – and their certificates are displayed near the entrance. Staff in general are knowledgeable, and friendly once you have their attention. Taiwanese snacks are available to help you line your stomach.
The drinks : beer, and nothing but. No wine, and only two cocktails, both, of course, made with beer. The bar’s primary mission, presumably, is to promote the brewery’s own draught and bottled offerings, but other craft brewers are also represented – notably Hong Kong’s Young Master, which contributes three brews to the list. Belgium and North America also feature on a menu somewhat slanted towards sour beers.
If you want to sample a selection of the 24 draught options, the bar offers a choice of two “Beer Platters”. The “Optional” platter is priced at HK$188 and you choose whatever you want. For the “House” platter at HK$168 the bar chooses for you. The house selection is pencilled on to the menu so will change from time to time, but when I dropped in it comprised Zhang Men’s Sour Frenzy and Hop Legend; Young Master’s Contemporary Pilsner and Rye on Wood; from California, Anderson Valley’s Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout; and Steenbrugge Dubbel Bruin from Belgium.
Of the Zhang Men brews, Wild Fox (HK$51 for a 250ml measure) is an oaky stout which for me was a little too sour, while Silent Knight (HK$51) is a refreshing, slightly bitter Vienna lager. On the whole I preferred the Young Master’s Contemporary Pilsner (HK$61) with its dry, crisp finish, and the well-balanced, coffee-tinged Victory at Sea Imperial Porter from America’s Ballast Point Brewery.
Neither of the beer cocktails (both HK$118) attracted me, but for those who are tempted: the IQ is described as a “beer version of the mojito” (I’m sorry, but all mojitos contain rum) and the Pink Panther is made with beer, pineapple, lime, ginger and basil. Another time, perhaps.
The verdict : a worthy addition to Hong Kong’s seemingly ever-growing list of craft beer houses, and to be commended for not confining itself to the parent brewery’s products.
Shun Fai Bldg, 64-66A Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2656 1515. Open: 3pm-2am