The State of Belgian Beer
Belgium is one of Europe’s largest producers of beer. Over 260 breweries are responsible for the country’s beer production that reaches 20 million hectoliters annually. Belgium boasts of over 800 varieties of beer brewed, which include pale lager, amber ales, lambic beers, Flemish red ales, sour brown ales, strong ales and stouts.
The biggest markets for Belgian beers are France, the United States and the Netherlands. Asia is a promising market for Belgium. Beer exports to China, Korea and Japan have been on the rise for the last ten years. In Hong Kong, Belgian beers have already acquired loyal followers among consumers. The city is home to several bars that exclusively feature beers from Belgium.
Belgian Beer in Hong Kong
Belgium is one of the main sources of specialty and premium beers to Hong Kong. 70% of Belgian beer production is exported to different markets worldwide, including Asia. In December 2017 alone, exports to Hong Kong reached 729,407 liters. Belgian beers are also widely available in the city.
The most popular brands are Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden and Duvel. Chimay, La Chouffe, Liefmans and Vedett also have huge followings. Consumers are hooked on the fruity, spicy and earthy flavors that beers from Belgium offer. Fruity beers, in particular, are well-liked by Hong Kong beer drinkers.
Leffe, a traditional abbey beer, has a deep brown color and a full, sweet and fruity aroma. Duvel beer is also fruity, while Hoegaarden stands out with its flavors of Curaçao orange peel and coriander. Meanwhile, Stella Artois, one of the world’s best-selling beers, has a well-balanced fruity malty sweetness.
The Rise of Belgian Beer Bars in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is host to a bunch of bars and bistros that specialize in Belgian beers. They offer everything, from common Belgian beer varieties to the most difficult-to-find imports. Prices per bottle are more expensive than those sold at supermarkets and other off-trade channels. Most bottled beers range in price from US$9-12 (HK$70-$100).
For instance, Frites has over 80 high-quality Belgian beers in its selection, from the mass produced Leffe and Hoegaarden to the popular Trappist beer Chimay. The bistro also offers rare brews like Artevelde, Montagnarde, Gouden Carolus, De koninck, Delirium, Karmeliet, Saint Bernardus and Orval.
Other brands sold in bars are Rodenbach Grand Cru and Kasteel Donker. Some of these beers are procured from different breweries in Belgium, from bigwigs like Blaugies and Cantillon, to up-and-coming ones like Alvinne and Fantôme.
For consumers who prefer drinking beer at home, they can have brews delivered via the website of the Hong Kong-based Belgian Beer International Co. Ltd. Brands like Lindemans Cassis and Hoegaarden Radler are available for US$2-3 per bottle.
Hong Kong consumers have fallen in love with Belgium’s wide range of beers. These brews are highly regarded for their taste and quality. With the variety of brands and beer styles available in the market, Hong Kongers have plenty of choices to satisfy every beer craving. Amidst the increasing competition in the market, one of the challenges for brewers is how to build brand loyalty.