Craft Brewing Scene in Taiwan
Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Taiwan. Imported brews are well represented in the market, most of which are coming from the Netherlands, China, the United States and Denmark. Lager dominates Taiwan’s beer market, but craft beer has been growing in popularity in the past half-decade.
While the market share of craft beer in Taiwan is only around 1%, consumption grows nearly 20% annually. After the boom in the craft brewing scene in 2013, new breweries and bars continue to open in the island. By 2017, there are more than 25 independent breweries operating in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, most of the imported craft beers in Taiwan are from Europe like Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Target consumers for these brews are the younger, more urban and open-minded consumers. In recent years, young Taiwanese folks with a curiosity for international flavors have steadily grown in number.
Taiwan: A Small but Dynamic Market for Craft Beer
Compare to Japan and South Korea, the Taiwan beer market is considerably small but no less dynamic. Beer prices are average at around NT$150-200 (about US$5) per pint/500ml. This is expected to rise due to the continued increase in consumption and the consumers’ growing tolerance for higher prices.
While most regular beers in the island are sold through off-trade channels such as supermarkets and convenience stores, few craft brewers have been able to do so. Around 75% of craft beers in Taiwan are sold on-premise. Consumers usually buy them through specialty craft bar and taproom, as well as Western restaurants and diners. Demand is particularly strong at independent cafés, bistros and bars.
For off-premise, craft beers are available at specialty craft beer bottle shops and high-end supermarket. Nearly all of the craft beers sold at supermarkets in Taiwan are imported. Among the craft beer drinkers, there is a growing demand for American IPAs, session beer, stout and American wheat.
Popular Craft Beer Brands in Taiwan
In 2013, there were mostly restaurant-style breweries in Taiwan that offered international-style craft brews from Germany and Belgium. For instance, Le Blé d’Or, Gordon Biersch and Paulaner Brauhaus sell homebrew German-style craft beers that go well with any type of cuisines.
Local breweries, like Sunmai and Alechemist, have a wide selection of craft beers inspired by local fruits and flowers for their customers. Taiwan Head Brewers has brews that feature the distinctly Taiwanese ingredient winter melon sugar, local premium Oolong tea and Changhua-grown jasmine flowers.
Jim & Dad’s, another local brewer, has seasonal kumquat beer that consumers look forward to. Taiwan Ale likewise has beers that use genuine Taiwanese mango and lychee. Meanwhile, popular imported brands in Taiwan are from Belgium (Stella Artois, Duvel, Floris and Trappistes Rochefort), the US (Elysian), Denmark (Mikkeller American Dream) and Japan (Hitachino).
With a variety of styles and flavors to keep beer lovers excited, craft beer in Taiwan is set for strong growth. High-end imported craft beers are rapidly gaining prominence among young consumers who are looking for something exciting from their usual mass-consumed brews. Craft brewers are optimistic that soon, it will become a significant and highly attractive segment of the Taiwan beer market.