• China’s First Collaborative Craft Beer

    China, while I’m not a fan of their global dominance in manufacturing, I always appreciate a country coming into its own with craft brewing.

    As China’s craft beer market begins to take flight, two brewers have teamed up to produce the country’s first collaborative craft beer: Yunnan Amber, a beer that infuses southwestern Yunnan province’s dianhong black tea with domestic and imported hops.


    Carl Setzer of Beijing’s Great Leap Brewing joined forces with Michael Jordan of Shanghai’s Boxing Cat Brewery after they both attended San Diego’s Craft Brewing Conference last May. “Carl and I have known each other for a while, as the brewing circles in China are pretty small,” Mr. Jordan said. “We saw these collaboration brews happening between U.S. brewers and decided we should do one ourselves.”


    The pair began trading ideas, recipes and brewing techniques and eventually chose to make an amber — an ale that is amber or reddish in color — because it was a style of beer both brewers were familiar with producing. They also checked in with a Beijing-based tea consultant, who recommended that they infuse it with dianhong tea, a strong-flavored, red-hued black tea whose floral aroma some liken to tea from India’s Assam region. Mr. Setzer noted that the tea is  ”distinct enough to come through all the other flavors in the beer.”


    When the time came to start brewing, Mr. Setzer traveled to Shanghai, where he and Mr. Jordan worked on their new creation at Boxing Cat’s brewing facility. Mr. Setzer already had two years’ experience working with tea in beer – something Mr. Jordan wanted to learn more about — and together they employed a process in which they steeped the beer in the tea for five days.


    The duo brewed 1,000 liters of the limited-edition amber, which is currently available at Boxing Cat for the next six to eight weeks and was yesterday launched at Great Leap, where it will be served for about two weeks or as long as supplies last.


    Though some might be skeptical of tea-infused beers, Mr. Jordan says the result is smooth and drinkable, with light hops that “allow the tea to come through” and a “floral presence in the finish.”


    Meanwhile, Mr. Setzer said the beer “achieves exactly what we wanted. It has very distinct characteristics of Boxing Cat style, with Great Leap aspects as well.”


    He added, “We’re able to bring a little bit of Great Leap to Shanghai, and a little bit of Boxing Cat to Beijing.”


    As for what’s next, the two plan to team up again in the future. They’re already eyeing a collaboration beer each season, and say that they’re always on the lookout to collaborate with other craft brewers.


    They do have one proviso, however.


    “If you’re not friends, you will not collaborate well,” Mr. Setzer said. “It’s like having too many chefs in kitchen.”

    So how do you feel?  Are you for China joining (and potentially taking over) the craft beer market, or do you prefer western dominance?

    Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/

  • Beijing, China Craft Beer Scene Growing

    It seems that the craft beer movement has started to catch on in Beijing , China.  The city now has two microbreweries.

    But according to both brewers, there’s a growing and largely untapped market in China’s capital as disposable income rises and beer-swilling residents clamor for more variety at the pub.

    This is good news for the residents of Beijing, who until now may not have not the joy of drinking a finely crafted beer.

    Mr. Jurinka and Slow Boat co-founder Daniel Hebert are looking to open a tap room and sell their beer directly to local bars and restaurants in the meantime, with each pint typically retailing for about 40 to 50 yuan ($6.35 to $7.90). The brewery currently carries six standard beers, with a new seasonal beer introduced each month. At the moment it produces 60 hectoliters per month — about 100 kegs — but plans to expand to three times that capacity.

    This upswing in activity isn’t too much of a surprise, after all, craft beer being imported into China is on the rise.

    U.S. microbrew beer exports to China hit a record in 2010, with sales reaching $546,000, five times the level just five years ago, according to figures from the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Beijing. And beer consumption overall is rising, too: SABMiller reported that China saw volume growth in beer consumption of 6%from 2005 to 2010, higher than the world average growth rate of 3.3% or the emerging-market average of 5.7%. In 2010, Chinese drinkers consumed 31 liters per capita, or 40.89 billion liters, according to Credit Suisse.

    Those visiting Beijing will no doubt seek out the small craft beer scene, but the locals are still just beginning to find their love of good beer.

    Foreigners are among the breweries’ most loyal customers, but both said they’ve been heartened by interest from locals.

    “We didn’t think that would be the case right off,” said Mr. Jurinka, but in Beijing, “the disposable income and wealth levels have reached a level where these things are now accessible.”

    With relatively low per-capita rates of beer drinking, China has plenty of room for growth, Mr. Jurinka said. Besides, he added, “Why would you ever order a Tsingtao when you can order a craft beer?


    Source: wsj.com