The Imperial Brewing Company formed 1905, commenced operations 1907
HF with thanks to IDJ for the image: “An industry only recently, started in Hongkong is that carried on — under the general management of Messrs. Barretto & Co. — by the Imperial Brewing Company, Ltd., which was formed in 1905, and commenced operations in December, 1907, as soon as the necessary plant had been erected.
The premises are situated in the Wongneichung Road, and the equipment, imported from America by Mr. F. J. Berry, the present works manager, and erected under his supervision, is thoroughly up to date, and makes possible the latest scientific methods. The brewing master is Mr. A. F. Weiss, a graduate of the U.S.A. Brewery Academy, under whom are employed about sixty men.
In brewing beer the first desideratum, especially in a hot country like Hongkong, is that a uniform temperature shall be maintained, and to facilitate this a refrigerating plant has been installed. The famous Shevilier malt is used, and it is first crushed and made into a mash. This takes place at a temperature of 140° F., which is slowly raised in the course of an hour or so to 167° V. An hour’s rest is then allowed, after which the liquid is drawn off, and run into a copper kettle, to which hops are added in the “woert.”
The brew is brought to a boil for two or three hours, according to the brand of beer required, and is then ready for discharging into a “hop jack.” This is fitted with a false bottom, and the clear beer is then pumped on to a surface cooler, where it remains for an hour or two. It is then run over a Baudlet cooler, and, while at a temperature of 36° F., yeast is introduced. The beer is then aerated from twelve to fifteen hours, when more yeast is added.
The froth caused by the fermentation is removed, the skimming being continued until the fermentation ceases, this process lasting from three to eight days, according to the strength required.
The beer is matured in tanks for several months, and is then run into chip casks, and re-charged with kreausen*. Twelve or fifteen days later it is ready for filtration and casking or bottling. That intended for bottling is pasteurised to prevent deterioration and give it a palatable fullness.
The brewery has an ample supply of good water from the public mains of the Colony, but, to ensure a service in the event of this breaking down, a reservoir, capable of meeting all requirements for several days, has been erected. The beer brewed is of excellent quality, as is evidenced by its already wide popularity.” (1)
“Imperial Brewing was founded by Portuguese businessmen AAH Botelho and FD Barretto. It began operations in a converted house in Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, in late 1907, and a report the following year said its annual capacity was a substantial 76,400 barrels, while “large quantities of their products are being exported to the various ports in China”. However, its beers failed to impress the local consul of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who wrote to Vienna in 1907 about Imperial Brewing’s products: “Both flavour and clarity have much to be desired.”
Imperial Brewing seems to have closed after only a year or two, pushed under, perhaps, by a combination of its own poor beers and the arrival of another concern, Oriental Brewery….
This article was first posted on 8th February 2014.
- Source: Wright, Arnold, : Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and Other Treaty Ports of China: Their History. People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources. London: Lloyd’s Greater Britain Publishing Company, Ltd., 1908.
- The Opening of the Sham Tseng Brewery
- Beer in Hong Kong – the early days up to the planned opening of its first brewery
- Hongkong Brewers & Distillers 1934 – Lady Southorn’s hop shovel
- Hong Kong Brewers and Distillers – the opening of the Sham Tseng Brewery
- Hong Kong Brewers and Distillers – The Sham Tseng Brewery 1930-1935
- Oriental Brewery – “The beer that’s brewed to suit the climate”