Beer in China
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.
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. 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.
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. This practice has now been made illegal.
Tsingtao Beer, produced by Tsingtao Brewery, has been the best selling beer in China for eleven consecutive years, and is also the brand most widely exported to other countries, followed by Zhujiang and Yanjing. 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, 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 such as Shanghai and Beijing which have a resident western community. The most popular and best-known craft brewer in Shanghai is Boxing Cat Brewery, followed by Shanghai Brewery, The BREW and Dr Beer. Another popular one is Kaiwei Beer House, a brewpub chain based in Wuhan. In Beijing Great Leap Brewing as well as Slow Boat Brewery are 2 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.
List of major Chinese beers
Note: This is a partial list of China's major breweries. The vast majority of China's breweries serve only their local vicinity.
- Hangzhou Qiandaohu Beer Co., Ltd. (杭州千岛湖啤酒有限公司) - producer of Cheerday Beer
- Harbin Beer (哈尔滨啤酒)
- Reeb (力波啤酒)
- Snow beer (雪花啤酒)
- Tsingtao Beer (青岛啤酒)
- Yanjing Beer (燕京啤酒)
- Zhujiang Beer (珠江啤酒)
- China Pabst Blue Ribbon (蓝带啤酒）
- Wusu Beer (乌苏啤酒) Xinjiang
- Kingway Beer (金威啤酒)
Hong Kong beers
- "9,000-Year-Old Beer Re-Created From Chinese Recipe". National Geographic Society.
- "'No trouble brewing,' beer industry insists". China Daily. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- "A blue-collar beer goes upmarket". Danwei.
- Fermented beverages of pre- and proto-historic China
- Beer-Drinking Etiquette in China[dead link]
- Beer-Drinking Etiquette in China (Archived copy)