After discovering craft beer during his years in The U.S, Dan Gallie decided he wanted to start a brewery. Along with his brother Dave, Dan opened Black Kite Brewery in 2014, a boutique brewery in Hong Kong. We asked him all about starting the company, his love of beer and what to expect from BKB in 2017.
Name: Dan Gallie
Occupation: Co-Founder Black Kite Brewery
Hometown: Hong Kong
Current Residence: Hong Kong
A beer that describes you: Our Southside Ale, a pale ale infused with jasmine tea, so it has an East meets West thing going, like me (my family has been in HK for 5 generations). It also pairs well with dim sum, which I love!
Can you describe your role and the startup history with Black Kite?
I started the brewery with my brother, Dave, towards the end of 2014. We had a German brewer with us for 6 months and have been running the brewery ourselves since then. We were doing everything initially, including hand bottling and running deliveries using Gogo van, and it's been really rewarding to grow the business from the ground up. We now have a brewery assistant, Phoenix, to help with brewery operations, and a distributor, Tramline Liquor Co., to help with sales and logistics.
What inspired you to start your own brewery?
I discovered craft beer while at uni in The U.S, having grown up with Tsing Tao, Carlsberg, etc, in Hong Kong, and came back here with the dream of opening a brewery. Dave and I worked desk jobs for a while, but both happened to be looking for career changes when the craft beer market started gaining momentum here and we decided to jump in.
What is something you’ve learnt in starting your own business you didn’t see coming?
I think we expected the government to be more transparent and efficient, but it’s been pretty tedious dealing with some departments. We’ve been bounced around different departments and never given an answer when trying to find information, and we’ve had to apply by fax for some courses and certificates. I thought we left faxes behind in the 20th century! Otherwise, I don’t think there have been any big surprises, but it’s been a great learning experience.
What have been some of the biggest challenges doing BK in Hong Kong in terms of the location?
It’s a young market, and it will take time to get people to switch over from commercial lagers. Our core beers were all designed to be quite approachable - moderate within the style guidelines, in terms of bitterness, hoppiness, and alcohol - but many people still find them overpowering.
Supply has grown faster than demand, so it’s very competitive. When we started selling in mid-2015 there were only 4 or 5 local breweries, and now there are about 20, plus there’s a lot more imported beer. The big companies, like Carlsberg, are also distributing some craft brands, and it’s hard to compete with them (especially when they pay for exclusivity).
What do you hope to achieve in 2017 with the business?
We’re working on a few things, but our main goal is to get on tap in more places - hopefully getting bars and restaurants to switch from commercial lagers! We also plan on joining more markets and events this year, and we’re working with some other breweries to put on a local craft beer event.
Where can we find BK?
We’re in most of the bars and bottle shops that specialise in craft beer, and some other bars and restaurants. There’s a map on our website, which might help you find a new local! You can also come meet us in the brewery for a free tour! We’re running tours every Saturday in March, and will keep our Facebook page updated with future dates and times.