I first started home brewing beer with my dad when I was 7 years old. That was really the foundation of my love for beer. The little sips from my Dad’s glass have gradually increased over the years, as has my fascination with the vast varieties of beers that can be made by using different variations of the same four basic ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. Whether it be light or dark, bitter or sweet, savoury or citrusy, funky or crisp, is merely scratching the surface.
Then there are the different brewing methods and the plethora of other ingredients that can be added to beer: fruits, spices, herbs, coffee, chocolate, flowers, chillies, enzymes, pro biotics (the list goes on and on and on). The versatility of wine is astounding, but I’m sorry Robert Parker, beer is better. The variety of beer styles and variations within each style blows my mind and it’s forever evolving. New hop varieties are constantly being developed, new styles made, pioneering methods developed. And that is why I am obsessed with beer. It cannot ever be dull. There is always something new and exciting to discover, or to be discovered. Every time I eat, smell or read about something I think: “How would this taste in a beer?” or “Can that flavour be recreated in a beer?”. I love Hong Kong’s custard tarts, so why not an egg custard tart beer? Or a Char Siu beer?
Myself, my wife Emily and our friend Joe, the co-founders of Gweilo, are all English. As such, we love a session style beer that can be drunk day in, day out and which isn’t too complex or challenging. Just something easy to sup whilst pondering life or chatting to friends. This is why the first three Gweilo beers we contract brewed (and now the new extended core range) fall into this bracket. There is, and always will be, a time and a place for well made, everyday, reliable beers. As our head brewer Matt says “Everybody likes a good ‘beer beer’” and our core range will be just that. Well made, reliable and consistent ‘beer beers’ which are true to style with sensible ABVs.
The eight 10,500 litre and two 14,000 litre fermentation tanks we have installed in Fo Tan mean we can make a lot of ‘beer beer’. 6,000 cans and 3,000 bottles an hour, to be precise. But the beer geeks in us are obsessed with boundary pushing beers which test our very own perception of what beer is. And this is why we have invested in four 1000L tanks and will soon launch the Gweilo 1000L Batch series. The 1000L tanks mean we can experiment. We can push the boundaries. We can brew beers which make people stop and say “I literally don’t know how they have done that”. We can brew beers which, granted, you may not want to drink more than one of, but, will make you smile and feel all warm inside like you are wearing that big, baggy, woollen jumper your granny knitted for you.
We want to ease ourselves into the tanks gently so the first few 1000L Batch beers will be an Imperial Stout, a few double IPAs from the same wort stream and a hazy, tropical juice bomb. These may seem a little mainstream, given that I have gone on about pushing boundaries. But, fear not, as time goes by and the people of Hong Kong get used to us frequently making these limited edition beers, we will really up the ante. Expect mixed fermentation beers, beers which showcase one hop, beers which utilise the amazing bounty of nature’s pantry here in Asia. Also, expect some geeky stuff. Having 4 x 1000L tanks means we can brew a base wort of 3000L and split that across 3 of our 1000L tanks. We can then treat that base wort in a variety of ways. In essence, we will be able to showcase the effect a different ingredient (whether it be a hop, yeast strain, fruit, spice etc) has on a beer. For example, people will be able to drink the ‘base beer’ alongside one that has been dry hopped with Nelson and another that has been dry hopped with Eureka or one which has been infused with Jasmine Tea against another infused with Oolong Tea. We want the 1000L Batch series to be educational, challenging and inspiring in equal measures. We’ve told Matt to use his 25 years of experience (and the fact he is now not restrained by a finance team in a back office) to go wild. He is already regarded as one of the best brewers in the world, but now is his time to really shine. He has a blank canvas. He couldn’t be more excited and nor could we.
But enough about us, what we want and how good the beers will be (I get carried away sometimes!). What really makes us tick is making people happy. I still get a kick out of seeing people drinking a Gweilo in a bar or pondering in the supermarket between buying a Gweilo or another beer. Emily often tells me off for staring at people because they’re drinking a Gweilo. Apparently, I look like some kind of weirdo!
Although the 1000L Batch is our indulgence, we want it to be yours too. We want the people of Hong Kong to own this range. Therefore, if you have a flavour or idea that you think will work well in a beer, let us know. If it’s humanly possible to brew it and we think people will drink it, we will make it.
Founder, Gweilo Beer