Why I’m glad Qingdao is the beer capital of China

Being male in China means navigating the drinking culture, which varies from region to region. If you want to be healthy and not get drunk on a regular basis, this can be challenging. Not drinking would seriously hinder your social interaction with other men (never mind your ability to conduct business). That’s just how thoroughly embedded into the culture alcohol is. A lot of people — foreigners and Chinese — don’t see any middle ground; it’s either get sloshed or don’t have many male friends.

Just the other night a neighbour came over for a Christmas dinner. He brought me baijiu as a present but said he’d prefer to drink beer with dinner, and to drink slowly. That started a conversation about drinking in China, during which he explained that for two thousand years it’s been proper social etiquette for a host to display generosity by getting his guests drunk, and that only recently has this begun to slowly change toward the more “civilized” drinking of the West, where, in polite company, people can enjoy a little alcohol together but there’s no expectation or obligation to drink extreme amounts. (Turns out most adults don’t like getting routinely wasted — who knew?! ;) )

But that was an exceptional situation. Typically in Qingdao, a half-complete dinner between male friends looks like this:
restaurantbeersIt’d be easy to find bigger bottle displays to photograph; I just happened to snap this mid-meal on the way back from the bathroom the other night. To North Americans it might look like a lot of beer for a family restaurant, but to me it looks like *not baijiu*. Qingdao is the beer capital of China, and that means that — unlike our foreign friends in other parts of China — I don’t have to choose between dealing with baijiu or having male friends.

Because as we all know, one does not simply drink baijiu.

2 thoughts on “Why I’m glad Qingdao is the beer capital of China”

  1. One of the real pleasures of living , or visiting Qingdao is the availability of many varieties of Tsingtao Beer. Yes, beer lovers can sample any or all of the 10 or 12 varieties of delicious Tsingtao Beer. Some NOT exported.

    1. I can’t keep track of them all; which is a different variety and which is just a different can. Plus the same beer from different factories tastes different to the point that restaurants charge different prices for #1 and #2 factory beers. Haven’t settled on a favourite, but the green cans are alright, and in the summer a fresh 原浆 keg can be great. The Tsingtao 黑啤 is growing on me.

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