I’m no píjiǔ connoisseur, as the third part of this sentence is about to make abundantly clear, but I may have just discovered a new Chinese beer that tastes pretty good. Meaning not merely passable, but “Hey, that’s not bad!”
Now I assume it’s not up to the standards of my bourgeois, “only drink craft brews” countrymen and their upper-middle-class-aspiring drinking rituals — I wouldn’t know. But last week I noticed a case in our local supermarket that I’d never seen before: 青岛全麦白啤 “Tsingtao Whole Wheat White Beer”. It was inexpensive so home it came, and it turned out better than expected, meaning it (a) had a flavour, that (b) didn’t remind me of skunks.
And at 65元 for a case of twelve 500ml bottles (5.4元/bottle = USD 0.85, CDN 1.13), it’s on the mid-to-cheap end of the beer spectrum in Qingdao; cheaper than domestic stouts and nearly all imports. (Also found cases of twelve 500ml cans for 72元.) It’s easily my current favourite Chinese beer.
There’s one other local beer I’ve discovered that might also qualify, a dark beer from 崂特 that tastes like… dessert. (But read the labels closely; it’s not their only dark beer).
Both these beers are little hard to find, but for different reasons. Tsingtao’s new wheat beer just came out this summer (2015), and I’ve only seen it in one supermarket (which hasn’t restocked it yet) and the one beer store I checked. As for the black beer from rival local brand Laote, you won’t find it sold by any vendors who sell Tsingtao.
Qingdao being the beer capital of China does not mean it’s full of all kinds of beer. It means it’s full of Tsingtao and one other kind of local beer that Tsingtao owns (崂山啤酒) because Tsingtao won’t provide stock to vendors who sell rival domestic brands. So says our neighbourhood shop owner, who secretly sells 崂特 to friends on the side, and explains that Laote refused to sell out to Tsingtao like Laoshan did. This means your local supermarket probably only has Tsingtao and Tsingtao-owned 崂山啤酒 (watery Tsingtao), and little if any imported beer.
What are your favourite Chinese domestic 酿造s?