If you’re a fan of Lantau-themed products, here’s a new one – Lantau Peak, a craft beer now on tap at The Water Buffalo.
A pale ale brewed by proprietor Chris Riley and launched just last week, it lines up next to a range of arrestingly-named indie brews like Badger’s Hopping Hare, Old Peculier and Brains Black.
Chris, who opened the Pui O gastropub with his wife Jenny in April last year, knows his way around vats and hops.
He is a long-time home brewer, was twice runner-up in UK home brew competitions and has a PhD in chemistry
He admits it was initially “a bit scary” to move up from home brew to commercial production, but says it actually turned out to be easier.
The industrial equipment is much better at dealing with the tricky elements like cleanliness and temperature control, he explains.
“At home it’s very easy to get contaminated. Here I can pump hot water and cleaning agent through the equipment so it’s clean and sanitised.”
Lantau Peak is not Lantau’s first craft beer. Pilot Pierre Cadoret was the pioneer with Typhoon Beer, which he made in Mui Wo from 2009 until the venture was forced out by high rent.
Chris describes Pierre as a mentor. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without him,” he said.
He says that while Hong Kong has an emerging craft brew scene, he has to source the key ingredients, like roasted barleys and black and chocolate malts, from the UK and Australia.
As well as being one of only five Hong Kong micro-brewery pubs, The Water Buffalo is one of the few restaurants in the city, and the only one in Lantau, to offer gluten-free food.
Chris says when he went through a period of gluten-intolerance his wife Jenny, his partner in running the pub, worked up a portfolio of gluten-free dishes that they now serve patrons.
It a big deal for some people. There’s even a gluten-free beer, Daura Damm, from Spain.
“We have a good local following, but people will travel long distances if they know they can get a gluten-free meal,” Chris says.