Chris Wong of hEROES Beer Co. on the evolution of craft brewing
02 Jul 2020
The first to offer canned craft beer in the city, Hong Kong-based brewer hEROES Beer Co. has revolutionised the booze scene since opening in 2017. Not your ordinary brew, each beer is crafted in collaboration with fellow beer enthusiasts, ‘unleashing the hero within’ and allowing them to tell their stories.
hEROES Beer Co at its best.
Having a celebrated F&B dining scene, #HomeKong clearly isn’t lacking when it comes to local and international brews flowing from taps of our favourite spots. However, hEROES Beer Co. was born out of passion and love for beer - to build a platform for like-minded individuals who also share the same love for beer, and create their own.
To tell us a little bit more about this unique and proudly local brewer and an even more innovative brewing process, we spoke to Chris Wong, the brains behind and co-founder of hEROES Beer. Read the full interview below.
In a few words, could you explain what’s a ‘craft beer’?
Craft beer is beer brewed by smaller sized breweries where the owners' passion for great beers are still firmly imprinted to everything that the brewery does. The beers are often made with quality and innovation as the highest priorities rather than focusing purely on the business aspects like minimizing cost, scaling up, mass marketing and distribution.
How has craft beer evolved all around the world?
It was a movement started in the US and took the whole world by storm. There are over 8,000 breweries in the US, and their sales is now 13.6% of the U.S. beer market by volume. We see similar trends happening around the world, with Europe and Australia a little bit faster, and Asia quickly catching up. (Reference: National Beer Sales & Production Data by Brewers Association)
Unleashing the hero within.
How did the latest craft beer movement start in Hong Kong?
It was in 2012-13 when many things happened at once.
(a) The first Beertopia, a craft-beer-only festival that became one of the largest in Asia
(b) New Importers like Hop Leaf, Americraft, The Bottle Shop that brought in high-quality craft beers
(c) The first breweries such as HK Beer Co, and Young Master
(d) Formation of the Craft Beer Association
(e) The first homebrew store HK Brewcraft and first homebrew competition
All of a sudden, Hong Kong people went from a beer vacuum to having access to high-quality beer, products and knowledge, and the industry professionals came together through CBAHK and supported each other.
What was the inspiration behind Heroes Beer?
All the superheroes movies that we’ve watched as kids, especially “Kick-ass”. We found that beer enthusiasts have their own ideas and fantasies about beers. Most of them were purely drinkers who can’t quit their day jobs to start their brewery nor can they control what breweries make. But we are here to be the platform where these enthusiasts can make their dream (beer) come true.
The hEROES doing their thing.
How do you distinguish your brand compared to other brands?
The beer creation process - Each beer we make is co-created with a real-life beer enthusiast. We conduct deep and intensive interviews, to learn about their backgrounds, motivations, tastes, interests, dreams and values. Through this process, we join forces with creators to unleash their inner "heroes" - Delicious beers that each carries its own unique story, label, and flavours.
How has Heroes Beer been shaping or redefining the beer scene in the city?
Other than empowering the drinkers, I think one key contribution is that we were the first canned craft beer in Hong Kong when the mainstream perception was that glass bottles are superior (while the truth is the opposite). We have been patiently educating the market, and now you see canned beers served in fancy restaurants and hotel bars. There are now four brands that offer their beers in cans, and we are proud to be the first.
What’s your forecast on the future of the craft beer business?
We are optimistic. Hong Kong people have the most well-trained palates that allow us to quickly jump into new, superior products. Look at how the coffee or wine market developed. We think beer will go along a similar path.