Beer in China

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Past packaging of Tsingtao Beer in a display at the Qingdao Beer Museum

Beer in China (simplified Chinese: 中国啤酒; traditional Chinese: 中國啤酒; pinyin: Zhōngguó píjiǔ) has become increasingly popular in the last century. Chinese beer has also seen a rise in popularity internationally in the last few decades. While most Chinese beers are pale lagers, other styles are occasionally found, such as Tsingtao Dark Beer.

History[edit]

Production and consumption of beer in China has occurred for around nine thousand years, with recent archaeological findings showing that Chinese villagers were brewing beer-type alcoholic drinks as far back as 7000 BC on small and individual scales. Made with rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits, this early beer seems to have been produced similarly to that of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.[1] Ancient Chinese beer was important in ancestral worship, funeral and other rituals of Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties, and the beer was called as Lao Li (醪醴 in oracle bone script). However, after the Han Dynasty, Chinese beer faded from prominence in favor of huangjiu, which remained the case for the next two millennia. Modern beer brewing was not introduced into China until the end of 19th century, when Russians established a brewery in Harbin, with another three following (also in Harbin), set up by Germans, Czechoslovaks and Russians respectively.

Brewing ingredients[edit]

Chinese beers often contain rice, sorghum and sometimes rye in addition to barley. Interestingly, some beer is produced that uses bitter melon instead of hops as the bittering agent.

Chinese media reported in 2001 that as many as 95% of all Chinese beers contained formaldehyde, to prevent sedimentation in bottles and cans while in storage.[2] This practice has now been made illegal.[citation needed]

Economy[edit]

Snow Beer, produced by CR Snow is the best selling beer in China, holding 21.7% market share,[3] having recently overtaken Tsingtao Beer, produced by Tsingtao Brewery, which is the brand most widely exported to other countries. Tsingtao Beer is brewed in the city of Qingdao (formerly spelled Tsingtao in English) which was a German base in the time of unequal treaties and late-colonial western influence in China. The Germans needed beer for their sailors, soldiers and traders, and production continued after they lost the city to the Japanese in World War I.

Apart from Tsingtao, other major Chinese brewing groups include China Blue Ribbon,[4] Yanjing, Sie-Tang Lio and Zhujiang. Many major international brewers now have interests in, or joint ventures with, Chinese breweries, and popular international brands such as Carlsberg are now produced in China. This gives them access to the Chinese market, while providing capital and expertise to help upgrade local brewing standards, albeit at the cost of variety.

Only a few brewpubs exist in China, primarily in major cities which have a resident western community. There are exceptions like the Bad Monkey Brewery in Dali Old Town, Yunnan. The oldest craft brewery in Shanghai is Henry's (which is now closed), followed by The Bund Brewery. Shanghai Brewery is the largest craft brewery in Shanghai, followed by Boxing Cat Brewery, The BREW and Dr. Beer. Another popular brewpub is Kaiwei Beer House, a chain based in Wuhan. In Beijing, Great Leap Brewing as well as Slow Boat Brewery are two well-established craft breweries. Craft beer festivals have recently begun in Beijing and Shanghai. The biggest and most popular beer festival in Shanghai is the Shanghai International Beer Festival, followed by the smaller Shanghai Beer Week; both were started in 2012.

Since 2011, a few specialty beer delivery services were launched in Shanghai such as Cheers In and Dean's Bottle Shop.

List of major Chinese beers[edit]

Note: This is a partial list of China's major breweries. The vast majority of China's breweries serve only their local vicinity.

Hong Kong beers[edit]

Hong Kong has a large brewery owned by San Miguel Corporation of the Philippines, as well as a microbrewery producing several beers for the local market.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "9,000-Year-Old Beer Re-Created From Chinese Recipe". National Geographic Society. 
  2. ^ "'No trouble brewing,' beer industry insists". China Daily. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  3. ^ Woo, Mars (Sep 13, 2013). "China's Top Beer Makers Named". China Topix. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "A blue-collar beer goes upmarket". Danwei. 

External links[edit]