Cinematographer Christopher Doyle And Carbon Brews Team Up For A New Hong Kong Beer
Carbon Brews have teamed up with mad-hat visionary and acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle, best known for his arresting work for films including Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood For Love and 2046. In one of the brewery's biggest collaborations to date, the team has worked with Doyle—known locally as Du Ke Feng—on a double hazy IPA beer, named “I Drink, Therefore I Am”.
Launching 30 January 2021, the name of the new beer is a play on René Descartes’ famed philosophical catchphrase, perfectly aligned with Doyle’s freewheeling musings, which are overlaid in a whimsical promo video that sees the cinematographer cavorting about the Carbon Brews headquarters in Fo Tan. He examines the reel of beer can labels that are plastered with his face, listlessly knocks back a can of beer while perched upon a row of beer barrels, and cheekily sneaks a few cans off the production line like a cartoon burglar, stuffing them into the pockets of his faded flannel jacket. He delights in the entire process, declaring at one point “I can hear my beer!” as he dons earphones, presumably to listen the amplified sounds of the carbon dioxide released by vats of fermenting beer, and pulls dramatic faces as he sniffs barrels full of beers in progress.
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The project came together serendipitously through Benny Chia of Fringe Club, who is close friends with Doyle and also with the Carbon Brews team; Chia and Doyle were drinking Crazy Rich Lupulins, another hazy IPA by the brewery, and the cinematographer liked the beer so much that the conversation naturally steered towards creating his own brew with the team. “He came into the brewery, and we had a few drinks—more than a few drinks, actually,” says Chris Wong, general manager of Carbon Brews. Many of the employees were already big Christopher Doyle fans, each with their favourite film (Wong’s is In The Mood For Love, thanks to nostalgic memories of passing by the iconic Goldfinch restaurant every day), but the conversations revolved more around what Doyle does and drinks in real life, rather than his filmography. “We found out what he likes and, most importantly, how he sees beer. Instead of doing a collaboration where we just focus on how we market [the beer], this started off with Chris saying ‘Hey, beer should be drunk slowly. It’s meant to be savoured. It’s a beverage where you sit down and talk to people and drink and think.’ That’s how the “I Drink Therefore I Am” came about.”
The double hazy IPA, which will be sold by online retailers Owlsome Bottles, is described as having ripe tropical fruit flavours on the nose—primarily mango, pineapple and cantaloupe—along with flavours of papaya and citrus peel. Wong shares that the beer’s complex profiles used the Crazy Rich Lupulins beer as a starting point—apt, considering that this was the beer that technically kicked off the whole project, and that the natural haziness of the beer perfectly aligns with the dreamy mood of Doyle’s “I drink therefore I am” philosophy. The team also decided to turn up the base, adding more specialty malts for a deeper, toastier flavour that would evolve as you sipped.
In the video, Doyle’s soliloquy opens up with a direct reference to one of the most famous Chinese philosophical tales, that of the Daoist thinker Zhuangzi, a thinker who fell asleep and awoke, unsure if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. By combining it with the thinking of Descartes, the message seems to be that no matter what is your reality, there is one thing for certain: that a good drink, perhaps, is one way of anchoring yourself in uncertain times.
As Doyle himself joked, “Who needs an Oscar when you can have your own beer?”
Carbon Brews will be hosting a live tasting session with Christopher Doyle on 30 January 2021, with times to be announced. Keep an eye on their social media channels for more.