Oriental Brewery – “The beer that’s brewed to suit the climate”

Hugh Farmer:

Land for Oriental Brewery’s plant was acquired in Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon,  in the spring of 1907, when it was announced that the consortium behind it intended to spend “over a quarter of a million dollars on an up-to-date brewery”.

The Brewery opened in 1908 with a capacity of 100,000 barrels a year, using brewing equipment imported from the United States. The promoters were Americans but it was led by an Englishman, Alfred Hocking, originally from Cornwall, who had emigrated to the US as a young man. (Born? Died 1936)

Hocking moved to Honolulu, Hawaii and became something of an industrialist running a lumber mill and a sugar plantation before starting the Honolulu Brewing and Malting Company in around 1897 or 1898.  This was situated on Queen Street from where its Primo lager was launched in 1901.  Hocking had a large house, now known as Graystones, built in 1903 at 1302 Nehoa Street, Honolulu.

He then moved to Hong Kong though there is less information about Hocking’s time here and the Oriental Brewery than when he was in Honolulu.

By early 1911, Oriental Brewery’s beer was on sale in Singapore. And the advert, featured on the home page, says the beer, “can be obtained everywhere in the Far East. Its advertising slogan was: “The beer that’s brewed to suit the climate”. One of its beers was Prima, echoing the Primo brand Hocking had launched earlier.

In October 1912, however, the company fell into liquidation and, seven months later, it was announced that the brewery had been sold to a syndicate from Manila, which dismantled the plant’s equipment and shipped it to the Philippines.

HF: Here are details of the Brewery’s liquidation. Property, Plant and Equipment and the beguiling sounding steam launch Oriental. Ice, beer and “other cargo”- sounds perfect for a jovial, long weekend cruise around Crooked and Double islands.

Straits Times 11th January 1913

Orienatl Brewery liquidation 1 Straits Times 11.1.1914


Oriental Brewery liquidation 2 Straits Times 11.1.1914

Oriental Brewery Straits Times 11.1.1913

The end of the Oriental Brewery meant the end of brewing in Hong Kong for nearly twenty years. In 1930 Jehangir Ruttonjee founded HK Brewers and Distillers, (see blow).

Hongkong Daily Press 22nd Sept 1910

Hongkong Daily Press
22nd Sept 1910

This article was first posted on 24th September 2014.


  1. http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1298073/roll-out-barrel
  2. https://zythophile.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/how-i-nearly-found-a-brewery-on-my-doorstep/#more-3893
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hocking_House

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The Hong Kong Milling Company  “the establishment of a brewery…is under consideration”. c1905 to 1908. It never happened.
  2. The Imperial Brewery Company 1907
  3. Messrs Barretto & Co – managers of The Imperial Brewing Company 1907
  4. The Opening of the Sham Tseng Brewery 1933
  5. Beer in Hong Kong – Part One – the early days up to the planned opening of its first brewery
  6. Beer in Hong Kong – Part Two – The Imperial Brewing Company Ltd
  7. Beer in Hong Kong – Part Three – The Oriental Brewery 1908-1912
  8. Beer in Hong Kong – Part Four – The Hong Kong Brewers and Distillers Ltd 1930-1935
  9. Beer in Hong Kong – Part Five – the Hong Kong Brewery and Distillery Ltd 1936-1947
  10. Beer in Hong Kong – Part Six – the San Miguel Breweries at Sham Tseng and Yuen Long
  11. Beer in Hong Kong – Part Seven – Carlsberg brewery, Tai Po – opened 1981
  12. Homi Villa – built by Jehangir Hormusjee Ruttonjee during the construction of Hong Kong Brewers and Distillers Ltd Brewery

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