Thomas Lau is a hard man to track down. One week he’s in Scotland training with the BrewDog team, and the next he’s in Japan discussing the reception of Coedo Taproom in Hong Kong. You’ll be lucky to catch Thomas running between bars and clients, as on top of everything, he’s also the 2016 President of Craft Beer Association of Hong Kong (cbahk.org).
As one of Hong Kong’s most influential individuals in the beer industry, we’re curious… what does a typical day in your life look like?
I wake up at around 7.30am to help get my kids ready for school. I don’t see them a lot at night because my hours are pretty crazy so I try to catch up with them in the morning.
I get to the office around 10am where I just catch up on emails, conducts sales meetings and liaise with clients. Usually around 2pm I’ll be out in my bars, meeting bar managers and tasting beers. On any given day, I’ll have about 30 different beers in the fridge waited to be tasted!
By 8pm I’ll be either be rushing home for dinner or dining on location. I try to go behind the bar as much as I can so that I can engage with customers and try to see what they appreciate. I still enjoy serving customers!
What’s the most important element of running a beer bar?
I want my team to be conversation starters about beer, so I try to talk to them a lot and give them a lot of beer training. One of the most important ways to be successful is to be a good brand ambassador.
How do you think the beer scene in Hong Kong will develop?
I think beer is here to stay. We’re maybe 2 to 3 years behind the boom in the States but we’re going to keep seeing more and more craft beers in bars. I think to really progress, we first need people to know that craft beer exists. Everyone knows the difference between table wines and fine wines and are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a single bottle.
With beers, people still have this old-fashioned idea that it shouldn’t be worth more than $30. I don’t expect everybody to like craft beers, but at least they should understand the difference and know that it’s really nothing new! It’s simply going back to basics of how beer used to be made: real malts and yeast and hops without any shortcuts!