The Artist House in Causeway Bay – lots of potential, but limited craft beer selection a worry
In this generous space, patrons can choose from four craft beers from The Artist, a brand of artisanal beer from Belgium on sale here, but more choices are needed if it’s to compete in Hong Kong’s overcrowded craft beer market
The vibe: The Artist is a brand, not of art supplies but of artisanal beer from Belgium, and the generous space occupied by The Artist House has a mock-medieval look in tribute to the 14th century brewery where it’s made. According to the website, the concept is an “experimental venue … designed to embody a wide range of experiences around the world of craft beer.”
Online, the space is marketed for private events (there was a beer masterclass going on in one room when we arrived), membership is available and you can buy the beers online and design your own labels. On site, there wasn’t much by way of experiment or experience the night we were there. There’s a display of brewing equipment, a scent counter where you can sniff out what kind of beer you like and a small hydroponic garden of herbs and edible flowers – supposedly you can choose to have your bevvies flavoured with these, although none of the staff who waited on us mentioned it or introduced any other special features – and the bar hedges its alcoholic bets with a list of craft coffees as well as cocktails.
The drinks: Patrons can choose from four craft beers from The Artist: Blonde and IPA are on draft or in bottle, White and Raspberry are bottle only. All are priced at HK$58 for a 33cl serving (even on draft, pints aren’t offered). We liked both the draft beers – the Blonde fresh, fruity and smooth with good body and the accent on wheat, the IPA more floral with an aftertaste of honey. The bottled White was similar to the IPA but less impressive, and all three beers we tried, while decent quality, were somewhat on the sweet side.
There’s also a list of beer-related cocktails. Hop Session (HK$90, gin, hop and lime husk cordial, lemon bitters) was sweet and lemony with a touch of hops just detectable. Mr Kentucky (HK$80, Rebel Yell Rye, lime juice, spiced apple, Belgian IPA) while refreshing, tasted overwhelmingly of beer, with hardly a hint of the whisky or other flavours – and a garnish of what looked like apple turned out to be raw ginger, a bit of a shock to bite into.
Of the few classics listed, Old Rebel Yell (HK$100, Rebel Yell Bourbon, caramelised sugar, bitters) was a good but conventional Old Fashioned (a pity that the bartender had run out of caramelised sugar, which sounded the most interesting ingredient – but we appreciated his honesty in pointing this out).
The verdict: The space has great potential, but The Artist House lacks a clear identity – it needs a better selection of beers if it’s to compete in Hong Kong’s overcrowded craft beer market, and a name that suggests an art store rather than a bar will not help attract walk-in patrons.
The Artist House, 1/F, 9-11 Kingston Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2658 8818
Open: Monday 2pm-6pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 2pm-11pm, Thursday to Saturday and the eve of public holidays noon-3am
While you’re in the area: