Chris Wong (aka “Beer Dumpster”) is a co-founder of HK Brewcraft, the homebrew supply headquarters in Hong Kong. A certified BJCP beer judge, when not binge drinking, he’s also involved in several other beer-related projects in town, including TAP: The Ale Project, Second Draft and Hitachino HK Brewery.
When and where did you first learn to homebrew?
I took a homebrewing crash course by Greg Miller (better known as Griz) from San Francisco Brewcraft in 2006. Griz hand-scribbled a recipe of his famous lawnmower beer and I gave it a go. I didn’t kill myself the first time, so I decided to go back for more, and each time I learned something new from those guys.
What sparked your interest in homebrewing?
It was a natural thing to do – I worked for a Big Four accounting firm and they didn’t pay me much, but the nature of the job called for a lot of drinking.
How did you become involved in Hitachino HK?
I was fortunate enough to meet the owner of the Hitachino HK Brewery at one of the HK Brewcraft homebrewing workshops. Next thing I knew, I was sent to Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki – one of the most beautiful breweries I’ve ever been to – for training.
Is it hard to go from homebrewing to commercial brewing?
It’s easy – you just need to quit your current job, show up to work and try not to get killed. However, it may require you to either seek technical help from other professional brewers or consultants, or get trained at a professional brewery or brewing school.
What advice would you give to budding brewers?
Don’t wait around forever, like I did. Start building your own brewing toys, brew bigger and more extreme batches, read all the boring technical books and brew in as many places that you can get yourself into.
As both a homebrewer and a commercial brewer, which is your favourite style to brew and why?
I don’t really have a favourite style for brewing. Whether it’s brewing a basic IPA or messing around with oyster brine, as long as I get to make clean and fresh beer, then I’m a happy man.
Which style do you find the most challenging?
Clones. Whatever style it is, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to perfectly clone a beer. It becomes even more complicated when there is always a chance that the original beer from the original
brewery might change over time.
Having been in the game for a while now, what is your current process for creating a new beer?
The man who taught me how to homebrew told me that brewing is 50% art and 50% science, so I don’t really follow any patterns when I create a recipe. Most of my recipes are created when I drink a really good (or bad) beer… I then pull up my brewing Excel and play around with the numbers until it looks right. There are also a lot of fully automated brewing programs out there, like BeerSmith 2 and Brewer’s Friend. Ray Daniels’ Designing Great Beers is also a good book to start with if you want to learn the basics of creating recipes for classic styles.
Which style would you like to see more of in the local brewing scene?
As a consumer, I would just like to see more fresh beers in Hong Kong.