Free Brew? Ha ha!

Jonathan Porter

One of the key elements – and the nicest – of Shangri-La’s flagship Kerry Hotel in Pudong Shanghai is Brew, its $2 million in-house craft brewery.

And the man on whose broad shoulders this responsibility lies is Kiwi brewer Leon Mickelson. It’s easy to believe the strapping young man who takes me on a tour of the most specced-up boutique brewery I’ve ever seen has managed to accumulate 14 medals in a lifetime of devotion to his craft.

Brew was handed over to Mickelson lock, stock and recipes by the Australian contractors who put the whole creation together.
Mickelson starts with Shanghai water and purifies it to the point where it may as well have fallen out of the sky over his native New Zealand.

Then he adds the minerals native to the water from which his beer recipes originate – for example, an obedient German package of ions for his Pils and some laconic Australian trace elements for his White Ant beer and somehow he recreates hard uptight English di-hydrogen monoxide for his India Pale Ale.

There’s even some French campagne yeast for his cider, which; while virile, large and serviceable – still tends to run under a heavy mortaring.

Also very much in demand are Mickelson’s seasonal beers.

On this tour I’m invited to taste his pumpkin beer bled straight out of the vat. It’s mouth filling and cinnamon-y.

Mickelson is kept flat out meeting demand for all his creations thanks to the onsite bottleworks supplying receptacles of free beer for the hotel’s guestroom mini bars.

Yes – don’t bother backing up and reading that again – there is free beer, or sodas, in the room mini bars – the Kerry doesn’t believe in socking you 10 smackers for a beer or a Coke for that matter.

They just want you to relax, sit at the bar – every room has a bar by the way – and enjoy Mickelson’s handiwork at the end of the day – or even well into the night.

The bar concept should be embraced worldwide. It’s awful taking a new friend to your room only to have to them perch on the bed or lean against the wall.

And for a couple travelling together, it’s a great place to sit and debrief and decompress without having to get togged up and going down to the bar.

Someone’s got to do it … Brea and Mickelson

The Kerry’s Brew brewery is the first craft beer maker in China to bottle their own brand and Mickelson’s six handcrafted signature beers and one cider can be enjoyed with your favourite sports on TV, listen to music or relax on the outdoor patio with views of Shanghai’s green lungs, Century Park.

Kerry general manager Ed Brea says the Brew is “essential to hotel’’.

“It’s the cornerstone of our F+B operation,’’  Brea tells Lunch Magazine.

“We use it for our banqueting operation. And we use it for our own personal consumption.’’

“It’s a tough job,’’ says Brea, taking a sip of Mickelson’s finest, ‘’But it has its advantages.’’

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