HITACHINO NEST HONG KONG
With a history dating back to
1823 and its beginnings as a sake brewery, the family-owned Kiuchi Brewery began making beer in 1996 under its owl-logoed brand, Hitachino Nest. Just opened is its first ever international outpost: a 7,500 sq. ft. site in Fo Tan, which Hitachino claims is Hong Kong’s most technologically advanced brewery. At the grand opening in early August, we spoke to eighth generation owner Toshiyuki Kiuchi about bringing the brand to Hong Kong. HK Magazine: Why situate a Hitachino Nest brewery in Hong Kong? Toshiyuki Kiuchi: The first reason is simple: Hong Kong is the center of Asia, so food culture and craft beer culture is expanding from Hong Kong to all of Asia. The other reason is that we, as a Japanese brewery, cannot export beer to the mainland [ostensibly because of health concerns raised after the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster]. With a brewery in Hong Kong, we can export to mainland China.
HK: Will the Hong Kong brewery have any unique brews?
TK: Right now we are brewing the same beers as Japan, but in our next step we will brew special beers for the Hong Kong market, such as sour ales. It’s perfect for Hongkongers eating Chinese food, which can be oily and a little bit spicy.
HK: What’s different between the
Hong Kong brewery and the one in Japan?
TK: The size of the brewery is the main difference—the Japan brewery is 10 times bigger. All the equipment is the same as in the Japanese brewery, it’s just the size that is different. All the ingredients we will bring in from Japan, sometimes from Germany [such as the malt].
The water here is different [Hong Kong water is considered almost a blank slate with barely any minerals, ideal for brewing beer], so we are adjusting the water treatment.
HK: What’s the signature style at Hitachino Nest?
TK: White ale. It uses wheat malt, coriander and orange peel. It’s a cloudy beer; the signature at Hitachino.
HK: What’s your favorite?
TK: Good question. Every day I have tastings, tastings, tastings of beer! But I like lager-style beers. The Hitachino Lager is fruity, with a lot more hops; it’s also quite a smooth beer.