Q&A with Moonzen Brewery
Moonzen Brewery was founded at the beginning of 2014 by husband and wife duo, Laszlo and Michele Raphael and draws the inspiration for its beers from ancient Chinese folklore, the very name “Moonzen” meaning “door gods”, fearsome figures who protect the home from evil spirits and stand for integrity and strength.
When did you begin brewing in Hong Kong and what inspired you start a micro-brewery here?
We began brewing in Hong Kong 6 years ago. We were always lovers of good craft beer, and at the time there was no beer in Hong Kong that could satisfy us.
We wanted something natural, 100% all-grain, without any adjuncts or emulsifiers, i.e. a pure beer. After various career turns we finally saw the right time and an opportunity to bring beer goodness to Hong Kong. In 2014 we founded Moonzen Brewery.
What styles do you produce and do you have plans for more?
Currently our year round menu includes:
Thundergod Ale (5%abv)
A beer of the gods! Moonzen Brewery’s flagship beer. This pale ale is strikingly fresh, with a tropical and citrus hop forwardness.
Jade Emperor IPA (7%abv)
Exploding with extra thunder and lightning, this heavenly IPA flashes bolts of citrus and floral, all wrapped in a golden robe of maltiness. Pairs well with spicy food, mild blue cheese, and bold sweet desserts.
Monkey King Amber Ale (5%abv)
Our amber boasts a beautiful heart of caramel with hints of peaches stolen from the Heavenly Garden. Pairs well with a wide range of foods and cheeses; great with a burger.
Kitchen God Honey Porter (6%abv)
Deep, dark, but not too dangerous. Infused with honey and blessed with espresso notes. A beer to reminisce over. Pairs well with roasted or smoked food, bombastic dishes with spice and oomph.
Moon Goddess Chocolate Stout (5%abv)
Creamy, dreamy, and velvety smooth. This stout contains real chocolate and vanilla. One sip of this elixir of life and you might also fly to the moon! Pairs well with rich spicy food, Sichuan dishes, and chocolate desserts.
We also release seasonal beers.
What beer styles tend to be the most popular among drinkers in HK?
Lighter beers, such as lagers and pale ales, tend to be more popular and pair easily with Asian cuisine. However stronger beers, such as our porter also have a discerning following.
Do you look to the UK or US for inspiration or is there a style emerging here that’s all its own?
The great thing about Hong Kong’s location is that beers from all over the world are available. Specifically, British and American style beers are becoming increasingly available, where the former tend to emphasize the malt and full-body characters and the latter more refreshing lighter and hoppy beers.
Yet we foresee a hybrid style that incorporates local Hong Kong ingredients into the beers and as such put Hong Kong in the map of great craft beers to try in the world.
Are there any beers you’d like to produce but think the market is quite ready for yet?
We have experimental batches using Chinese medicine ingredients and Hong Kong local spices that are very unique. For example using chinese smoked black tea, ginseng kumquat, or chrysanthemum. At the current moment, these beers tend to be curiosity beers that the market is not quite ready for.
Also strong beers with high alcohol by volume higher than 12% spook the unadventurous craft beer initiate. The more people appreciate that there is more to the craft beer world than the industrial macrobrews, the more they will begin to ask for variety and uniqueness.
What scope is there for the craft beer market to expand in HK?
A lot of scope. One can already see many competing craft beer importers trying to put their brands in as many restaurants as possible.