a Gweilo pale ale enjoyed at home in Ho Chi Minh City

Gweilo Pale Ale



Refreshing Socially-Distanced Treat from Saigon Craft

Saigon Craft, one of District 7’s pioneering craft beer destinations, continues to delight with its diverse selection and support for the local brewing scene. Though I’ve only made a handful of visits, Saigon Craft consistently impresses, and their recent 4th-anniversary celebration promises many more years of quality brews.

Their Gweilo Pale Ale, procured for a responsibly distanced solo session, is a clear, light gold beauty. Aromas hint at resinous dankness with a touch of citrus. The flavor delivers a dry, resiny bitterness followed by a clean, subtly malty finish. Refreshingly light-bodied with a fleeting aftertaste, this is a session pale ale done right – exactly the kind of beer that makes you crave another

About Gweilo Beer

Gweilo Beer: A Hong Kong Craft Brewery with a Wink and a Brew

Gweilo Beer, established in Hong Kong in July 2014, stands out not just for its flavorful brews, but also for its playful name and its role within the burgeoning Hong Kong craft beer scene. To fully understand Gweilo Beer, we need to delve into the cultural context surrounding its name, the rise of craft beer in Hong Kong, and the brewery’s own story and offerings.

The “Gweilo” in Gweilo Beer

The term “gweilo” (鬼佬, guǐlǎo in Mandarin) is a Cantonese term used to refer to Westerners. While it can be used neutrally, it can also carry a slightly derogatory connotation. Gweilo Beer acknowledges this duality with its name, adopting a term associated with outsiders and using it to create a brand identity that resonates with both local Hong Kong residents and Western expats. This reflects a broader trend in Hong Kong, where Western influences are deeply intertwined with the city’s unique cultural identity.

Craft Beer Takes Root in Hong Kong

Prior to the 2010s, the Hong Kong beer scene was dominated by large international brands like Tsingtao and Heineken. However, a growing appreciation for artisanal products and a desire for more diverse flavors paved the way for the emergence of craft breweries. Gweilo Beer emerged during this wave of innovation, joining a community of passionate brewers dedicated to creating high-quality, locally-produced beers.

The Gweilo Beer Story: From Brewery Beginnings to International Recognition

Founded by Joseph Dunn, Emily Lam, and Ian Gerrie, Gweilo Beer started with a simple mission: to create sessionable beers perfect for Hong Kong’s hot and humid climate. Their first release in June 2015, a pale ale, quickly gained popularity for its refreshing taste and easy-drinking character. Gweilo followed this success with an IPA, both crafted with a focus on drinkability and catering to the local palate.

Gweilo Beer’s commitment to quality and innovation hasn’t gone unnoticed. Their pale ale won “Best British Style” at the 2015 Hong Kong International Beer Awards, a testament to their brewing expertise. They’ve also garnered recognition from Chinese media outlets like 南方都市报 (Nánfāng Dūshì bào), a major daily newspaper in Guangzhou, highlighting their significance within the growing craft beer scene in South China.

Beyond Pale Ales and IPAs: Exploring Gweilo Beer’s Range

While Gweilo Beer started with classic styles, they haven’t shied away from experimentation. Their current offerings include a wider variety, like a mango and passionfruit pavlova sour and an imperial rainbow sherbet sour, showcasing their willingness to push boundaries and cater to evolving tastes. This adaptability has helped them stay relevant in a dynamic market.

Gweilo Beer and the Future of Craft Beer in Hong Kong

Gweilo Beer’s cheeky name, focus on sessionable styles, and commitment to quality have all contributed to their success. They represent a generation of Hong Kong brewers who are not only passionate about craft beer but also understand the importance of cultural context and building a brand that resonates with a diverse audience. As the Hong Kong craft beer scene continues to flourish, Gweilo Beer is sure to remain a prominent player, offering locals and visitors alike a taste of Hong Kong’s unique brewing culture.