ROLL OUT THE BAR­REL

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -

Thus the se­ries of his Gen­eral IPA’s are named af­ter fa­mous mil­i­tary per­son­nel, in­clud­ing those sanc­tioned by war­lord states, and other beer names at Great Leap are de­rived from tra­di­tional folk­lore, lo­cal his­tory or their Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents.

Jim Boyce, a beer and wine con­nois­seur and blog­ger in Bei­jing, said se­ri­ous Chi­nese brew­ers put a lot of ef­fort in what goes into their bot­tles, so they also care about how to present it to the world.

Boyce said his fa­vorite la­bels are from Shangrila Beer in Yun­nan prov­ince.

“The la­bels fea­ture these col­or­ful artis­tic im­ages of the lo­cal cul­ture around Shangri-La, and that is where Ti­bet, Yun­nan and Sichuan meet. Quite beau­ti­ful.

“In Bei­jing I also like the con­sis­tency of style and the clever names of the beers at Ar­row Fac­tory. Stuff like Guanxi Pale Ale is very clever.”

At Jing-A Brew­ing tap­room, there is the Air­poca­lypse Dou­ble IPA, mean­ing the worse the pol­lu­tion in Bei­jing be­comes, cheaper the beer will be.

Jing-A’s co­founder Acker said: “In a way, I hope do­ing craft beer can help to tell a dif­fer­ent side of a story about China. We are us­ing in­cred­i­bly in­ter­est­ing Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents that have never been ex­per­i­mented with be­fore. So I think a lot of beer fans around the world will be very in­ter­ested and cu­ri­ous about it. We share a per­spec­tive and cul­ture of China to the world.”

His part­ner Kris­tian Li said: “It is an op­por­tu­nity for China to show­case the coun­try’s tal­ent and wealth in in­gre­di­ents to the world. It is not just made in China, but de­signed in China.”

As for Gao, he uses spe­cial Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents such as roasted sweet yam, Ti­bet bar­ley and Jas­mine tea in beer brew­ing.

The la­bel on his Baby IPA shows a chubby baby hold­ing a big carp in his arms, sig­ni­fy­ing an aus­pi­cious im­age in China for the Lu­nar New Year.

“It is not only about in­tro­duc­ing the craft beer idea to more Chi­nese peo­ple, but also in­tro­duc­ing what typ­i­cal kinds of craft beer we can make in China to world beer fans.”

For would be craft-beer mak­ers in China, one hur­dle is that un­der cur­rent reg­u­la­tions a brew­ery is not al­lowed to bot­tle and sell beer if it can­not pro­duce at least 12,000 bot­tles of beer an hour, far higher than most mi­cro­brew­eries are pro­duc­ing now.

“There should be no limit on how much great beer a brew­ery can pro­duce, but ex­pect­ing a new brand to start at an in­dus­trial scale is some­thing that China will have to re­con­sider as our mar­ket ex­pands,” Set­zer said.

“If you see a Chi­nese craft beer in a bot­tle, it means that it was ei­ther a) a spe­cial edi­tion, one-time small re­lease (we oc­ca­sion­ally do this), b) made through a con­tract brew­ery with a large bot­tling fa­cil­ity and gen­er­ally lit­tle in­put from the ac­tual craft brew­ers them­selves, or c) pro­duced at a fac­tory in the US.”

Thus most mi­cro­brew­eries serve tap beers on their premises, and you will find lo­cal craft beers are mostly in kegs, with few in bot­tles and cans.

Gao said lit­tle gov­ern­men­tal at­ten­tion has been paid to fos­ter­ing the craft beer in­dus­try.

“Our first brew­ery was shut down by the gov­ern­ment. So we turned to use a third-party brew­ery or, say, a con­tract brew­ery, to bot­tle some of our beers.

“It would be re­ally good for the in­dus­try if it got some gov­ern­ment back­ing.”

Con­tact the writer at dong­fangyu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Jing-A Brew­ing Co founders Alex Acker (left) and Kris­tian Li first be­gan brew­ing as a hobby at home. Now their Bei­jing craft brew­ery is us­ing Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents and China-in­spired pro­mo­tions like the Air­poca­lypse Dou­ble IPA, in which the worse the pol­lu­tion in Bei­jing be­comes, the cheaper the beer is.

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