Moonzen Brewery is a microbrewery located in a vertical factory building in Kwuntong, a formerly run-down part of Kowloon that is in the process of gentrifying. It opens Friday nights from 6 to 9.30 pm with craft beers brewed on site – all you can drink for HK$250.
I was copied into a group email invitation to a “lads’ night piss-up in a brewery” on a Friday night in Hong Kong.
According to the invitation, there would be a free-flow of craft beers made at the Kowloon taphouse between 6 and 9.30 pm.
The brewpub was described as a “great place” with “excellent value, great ambiance, and about 10 wonderful draft craft beers”, which were “all brewed 10 feet away with a tour included”.
I had never been to a craft beer bar in Hong Kong before. My curiosity was duly aroused, and I accepted the invitation without giving it a second thought.
Contrary to what you might think, Moonzen has nothing to do with the moon, and it has nothing to do with Zen Buddhism.
It is, rather, a transliteration of the Cantonese word for Door Gods (門神).
“We chose ‘Moonzen Brewery’ for our name because we want to create a brand inspired by the rich tapestry of Chinese folklore and rooted in Hong Kong culture,” the Kwuntong Brewery’s website explains..
“In ancient Chinese folklore, door gods are the spiritual guardians of entrances, attracting good luck and fending off evil spirits.
“They possess integrity and strength, and are bolstered by their fierce expressions and impressive weaponry.”
The Taproom …
Moonzen opens the doors of its taproom every Friday evening from 6 to 9.30 pm for tours of the brewery and tastings in the tastefully decorated room, which is chock-a-block with wooden Chinese furniture and other cultural elements.
The brewery was opened in December 2013 by husband-and-wife team Laszlo and Michele Raphael in a bid “to celebrate culture, craftsmanship and community, through our delicious and innovative beers”.
They produce 1,000 litres of beer at a time in a spotless 6,000 square-foot brewery. Their beers are sold at City Super and a number of food and beverage outlets across Hong Kong.
The brewery brews eight high-quality, hand-crafted beers year round:
- Thunder God ( an ale with 5% ABV),
- Jade Emperor (IPA with 7% ABV),
- Monkey King (an amber ale with 5% ABV),
- Kitchen God (a honey porter with 6% ABV),
- Moon Goddess (a chocolate stout with 5% ABV),
- King Yama (a Sichuan Porter with 8% ABV),
- Dragon King (a Fujian Radler with 3.5% ABV), and
- South Cloud (a Yunnan Lager with 4.5% ABV).
As you will notice, the last three beers on the list are named after Chinese provinces.
The brewery hopes to introduce craft beers for all of China’s provinces, adding at least one ingredient to each one to make it unique.
The Sichuanese porter, for example, includes the province’s emblematic numbing peppercorns and smoked caramel malts.
The Fujian Radler contains honey pomelos with a dash of salt.
The Yunnan Lager contains pu-er tea, which is the preferred tea to be consumed with Hong Kong-style dim sum.
Considering the fact that there are 23 Chinese provinces, that seems liuke quite a tall order. I wonder how long it would take?
There are also four municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin); five autonomous regions (Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Tibet); and two special administrative regions: Hong Kong and Macau.
Would they also be included?
The craft beer brewery also produces seasonal beers during the Lunar New Year and limited specialties.
A Look Around …
Please note that you cannot just show up and gain entry to the craft beer bar. You’ve got to either call or email the establishment ahead of time and make a reservation.
Somewhat like a speakeasy in the United States during Prohibition, you’ve got to enter a secret code at the door to be let inside.
The Food …
Moonzen Brewery does not serve food so you’ve either got to eat before you go, wait until after you leave, or order takeout, which the establishment allows.
There were several take-out menus on the table. My entourage ordered pizza from one of them, and it was tasty but pricey.
The Verdict …
I would have to agree with what was written on the invitation: Moonzen Brewery was a great place with excellent value, and a great ambiance.
Part of the fun was finding the place. It was located in one of those ageing industrial estates in the heart of one of Kowloon’s ageing industrial districts, which is slowly gentrifying.
You’ve got to enter through a gate in the fence, walk into warehouse-like room with loading docks, and take an industrial elevator to the top floor.
When the doors open, you’d have no idea that a sophisticated taproom is down the hall.
I loved the ambiance of the taproom – it was very ethnicky. This is a great spot to go with friends after work on Friday night.
The brewery tour was quite interesting, and I was amazed at how modern and clean the room was – stainless steel all the way!
With eight Hong Kong crafted beers on tap, there is a temptation to fill your glass at the first tap and work your way across all eight taps filling it each time.
I started to do that, but I quickly discovered that I liked some of the beers more than others.
My advice is to pour a small quantity of beer from the first tap and sample it before filling your glass. If you like it, go ahead and fill your glass. If not, continue on to the next tap.
After sampling all eight beers, I settled on one beer, which I particularly liked, and that is what I drank for the duration of the evening.
Moonzen Brewery – 2A New East Sun, 18 Shing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel: (852) 3709-2829.
The brewery is a five minute walk from the Kwun Tong MTR Station, exit B2.