A special drink for the stay-at-homes
As craft beers were beginning to take off in China about five years ago, another phenomenon, home brewing, was beginning to be felt in the country, said Li Wei, president of the Beijing Home Brewing Society.
“In fact, most craft beer brewers in China started out doing home brewing as a hobby,” Li said.
The society, launched in 2012, had 10 founding members and now has more than 500 paying members who are home brewers, beer lovers and craft beer practitioners, said Li, himself a beer aficionado who joined the society soon after it was set up.
In Beijing, home brewing first became popular among expatriates, and gradually expanded to locals, he said. Of the society’s 10 founding members, nine are expats, but most of the 500 members are Chinese, he said.
The society puts on events such as home brewing festivals, workshops and seminars.
More than 20 Chinese provinces now have their own societies for homerbrew lovers.
About 10,000 people in China brew their own beers, and there is a lot of room for growth as craft beers become more popular, Li said. In the US there are 600,000 home brewers, he said.
In China prices of home brewing equipment range from just 1,000 yuan ($150) to 50,000 yuan, and it costs about 30 yuan to 200 yuan to buy the ingredients to brew one barrel of about 90 liters. Most of the equipment and ingredients can be bought online.
Li, who is a presenter with China Central Television, said he became acquainted with craft beer on his overseas travels.
“Some hobbies are somehow interlinked,” he said. “For example, quite a few craft beer lovers among home brewers are also fans of pour-over coffee, bakeries, single malt whisky and outdoor sports.”
As young Chinese have become more affluent, they have begun to be interested in niche products, he said.
From left: Beer made by Jing-A Brewing Co in Beijing, Master Gao Brewing Co in Nanjing and Great Leap Brewing Co in Beijing.