Claws of Canada

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Gao Yan, 46, never ex­pected his love of craft beer to make him a pi­o­neer­ing brewer in a fast-grow­ing mar­ket in China. “The charm of craft beer is that as it is very tasty, and you can change its fla­vor and you wish to ful­fill your de­sire of cre­ation the give you a sense of achieve­ment,” says Gao, founder of Nan­jing Craft Brew­ing Co. He now has more than 20 cat­e­gories of beer un­der his Master Gao brand. Each fea­tures typ­i­cal Chi­nese el­e­ments in tastes and pack­ag­ing. 100 The cur­rent an­nual out­put is nearly that tons, which is equal to about 1 per­cent of of a small beer fac­tory, he says. When he first started to make his own beer at home, he used some Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents, such as ginger and dates, to do sim­ple tri­als.

beers Later, he de­vel­oped more com­pli­cated with jas­mine and Ti­betan bar­ley. Last year, he de­vel­oped Baby IPA and co­op­er­ated with a beer fac­tory to pro­duce bot­tled craft beer. It’sIt as sweet as or­anges with a fine white

il­lus­trated foam­foa as smooth as the skin of a baby. The trat la­bel on the bot­tle sports a chubby is a in­fantinfa hold­ing a big carp in his arms, which com­mon­com im­age for the Lu­nar New Year. GaoG plans to make a doc­u­men­tary next year, to record his ad­ven­tures as he tours sev­eral Chi­ne­seChC ci­ties to de­velop craft beers us­ing lo­cal­lo­coc in­gre­di­ents. “Some“im­ported beers have in­tense fla­vors, butbu my beers are spe­cially brewed for Chi­nese, with­wiw bal­anced and mild fla­vors,” he says. His beers are sold both on­line and in stores via dis­trib­u­tors all over the coun­try. While or­di­nary beers are one-di­men­sional

says, and­havean no out­stand­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics, he craftcrcr beers are di­ver­si­fied in fla­vors and cul­tures. “Home­brewed beers are like home­made ca­su­alca meals, and small fac­to­ries are do­ing

dishes,” pro­fes­sion­alpr cook­ing, de­liv­er­ing the best es he says.

an Gao’s beer-drink­ing buddy Yang Ping, 25, of­ficeof worker from Beijing, says: “Gao brews

He craftcr beer be­cause he is re­ally fond of it.

gets wantsw more peo­ple to share the drinks. He cir­cles, ono very well with oth­ers in the craft-beer c too.” The Master Gao crew is a fix­ture at craftbeer b fes­ti­vals around the coun­try. Gao’s love of beer goes back to the early 1990s,1 when he was work­ing in the United and States.S He drank craft beer for the first time

first fellf in love with it in­stantly. He re­calls the

slow to them. Even in Beijing, the mar­ket was

after to grow out of the ex­pat com­mu­nity Great Leap Brew­ing opened in a sleepy hu­tong in 2010. To­day, mugs foam­ing with house­made beer are be­ing raised all over the cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing a newer, big­ger and al­ways-packed Great Leap pub in Dongcheng dis­trict. Gao has grown with the Chi­nese craft-beer revo­lu­tion, too. He says more than 200,000 to beer-lovers — from painters to mu­si­cians He re­porters — have quaffed his var­i­ous brews. has sold 160 tons of Baby IPA alone, he adds.

for Ac­cord­ing to him, craft beers ac­count less than 1 per­cent in the Chi­nese beer mar­ket, to and many are im­ported. China only started

years im­port craft beers about seven or eight of ago, but he is con­fi­dent about the po­ten­tial the Chi­nese mar­ket. “The good news is that our fac­tory is start­ing to make a profit this year. The de­vel­op­ment

is of craft beer in the whole coun­try go­ing well,” he says.

In 2011, he pub­lished the book Get Your Own Brew, the first how-to book in Chi­nese about he home-brew­ing with many­well-tested recipes, claims. One can­brew beers at home, with proper wa­ter, malt, hops and yeast — and equip­ment such as a grind­ing ma­chine and a fer­menter. He says home brew­ing took off around the same year, not­ing that about 10,000 Chi­nese have made their own beers. Be­sides big ci­ties, nearly ev­ery sec­ond-tier city has an as­so­ci­a­tion or club for lo­cal craft-beer fans. Quot­ing a re­port from Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional Ltd, a London-based mar­ket in­tel­li­gence firm, he says the num­ber of im­ported craft beers in­creased by about 50 to 70 per­cent are in 2012 in China, and small beer houses bloom­ing across the coun­try. A lot of them know Master Gao.

sip as mag­i­cal — like a fresh spray in the mouth. He got a home-brew­ing kit from a friend who was mov­ing to a new house, and he be­gan to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties. He says it’s not dif­fi­cult for him to make de­li­cious

skill beer, and at­tributes his mind­set and a to his stud­ies in the US, where he earned Master of Sci­ence in chem­istry. “The se­cret is to drink more, learn more and share more,” he says. In 2007, he re­turned to his home­town, Nan­jing,

craft and was dis­ap­pointed to find no beer on sale in the city. He set up his own fac­tory a year later. “I can sur­vive with­out beer. But where there is beer, there is hope,” he jokes. How­ever, it was a chal­lenge at first to ed­u­cate no cus­tomers. China’s beer drinkers had idea what craft beer is, and buy­ing a do­mes­tic beer at im­port prices didn’t make much sense Con­tact the writer at xulin@ chi­

Mike Peters con­trib­uted to this story. Lob­ster lovers have a feast in store through the end of Jan­uary, as the Can­tonese restau­rant group Tang Palace hosts its month­long lob­ster fes­ti­val. All 58 of the chain’s seafood eater­ies across the coun­try are serv­ing win­ter-sea­son Cana­dian lob­sters for 98 yuan ($16) per 500 grams, which is about one-third of the reg­u­lar price. On Fri­day, the Tang Palace at Full Link Plaza in Beijing will hold a lucky draw. All din­ers that evening will get a pre­paid ex­pense card for the restau­rant or other gift, and the luck­i­est will get free roundtrip flight tick­ets to Canada.


Gao Yan,

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