Explainer: China's Oktoberfest, the Qingdao Beer Festival

By Joshua Cawthorpe, July 20, 2021

0 0

The 31st Qingdao Beer Festival, occasionally referred to as the ‘Oktoberfest of Asia,’ officially began last Friday. 

The festival runs for three weeks, and this year will come to a close on August 8.

Casual and extreme beer drinkers alike assembled at venues around the coastal city of Qingdao to sample some of the most mainstream (and craft) beers from around the world.

yanjing-warsteiner.jpegMassive tents representing beers from China and all around the world host millions of guests. Image via @半岛都市报/Weibo

The festival bears many similarities to its German counterpart. Large tents are erected, and visitors sit at long tables drinking large mugs of beer. 

The festival kicked off with an opening ceremony that featured a performance by 1,000 drones in the Qingdao night sky. 

There are concerts, performances, on-site camping and – as expected – drinking competitions.

performance-qingdao.jpeg
There are different stages with performances at the festival. Image via @帆同学爱摄影/Weibo

In terms of volume, 7.2 million revelers attended the 2019 Qingdao Beer Festival and had consumed over 2.1 million liters of beer by the middle of the second week, as cited by China Daily

Compare that to 6.3 million attendees at the 2019 Munich Oktoberfest where an astonishing 7.3 million liters of beer was drunk. Nonetheless, the Qingdao Beer Festival is one of the largest beer drinking events in Asia.

In 2020, Oktoberfest was canceled due to the pandemic. However, South China Morning Post reported that the Qingdao festival still ran at a reduced capacity, offering 1,500 different beers and hundreds of live events.

cheers-qingdao.jpeg
Large one-liter mugs are used, similar to German steins. Image via @半岛都市报/Weibo

Despite Oktoberfest debuting in Munich more than 200 years ago, Qingdao’s considerably younger festival is no mere copycat celebration. 

At the turn of the 20th century, Qingdao was a German naval outpost and the city still flaunts this with notable architectural influence in the Old Town. 

German and British settlers founded the Tsingtao (Qingdao) brewery in August 1903. According to the New York Times, the British were wary of the local drinking water and beer brewing served to sterilize it.

oldqingdao.jpeg
Old and restored photos of Qingdao are shared with the hashtag #青岛老照片展. Image via @-up主/Weibo

The Tsingtao brewery changed ownership through the tumultuous first half of the 20th century before being nationalized in 1949 (the same year baijiu became the National Drink of China). The official Tsingtao website states that the beer is still brewed using the German pilsner technique with water from the nearby Laoshan spring.

Tsingtao has long been China’s most exported beer, despite being recently overtaken by CR Snow beer in domestic consumption. 

The Shandong-based brewery was also the first mainland Chinese company to be publicly listed on an international stock exchange, according to Nikkei. Global brands like Budweiser, Corona, Heineken and Carlsberg have always asserted their presence at the festival on Tsingtao’s home turf.

But in recent years, craft beer has also carved out a stake in the Qingdao Beer Festival as it grows in popularity. Craft beer now accounts for 2-5% of China’s beer sales – up from 0.1% just a few years ago, as reported by Time.

festival-grounds.jpeg
Golden Beach Beer City is one of the main venues for the festival. Image via @青岛精选/Weibo

[Cover image via @青岛精选/Weibo]

more news

Chinese Woman Spends RMB50,000 on Telepathy Classes, Gets Buyer's Remorse

A woman in Anhui province was dismayed to discover the telepathy training company was fraudulent.

You May Hear Sirens In These Chinese Cities This Saturday

Saturday, September 18 marks China’s annual National Defense Education Day.

US Open Winner Emma Raducanu Wins Fans Over with Her Chinese

Emma Raducanu has been the talk of the internet after the China-born tennis player won the US Open.

Chinese Couple Detained for Making Over 800 Fake Moutai Bottles

A couple have been detained and 800 bottles of fake Moutai were seized by police in Wuhan.

Dylan Sprouse is Starring in an Upcoming Chinese Drama?

Sprouse costars in the upcoming movie ‘The Curse of Turandot’ and apparently spent six months learning Chinese for the role.

Rare Chinese White Dolphins Spotted in Guangdong

A pod of white dolphins was seen frolicking in the coastal waters of Guangdong province.

Young Chinese People Respond to Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

On Weibo, Afghanistan-related hashtags have climbed to the top of the trending list in recent days

Top Chinese Internet Censor to Face Trial for Corruption

An investigation found Peng "lost his faith and was disloyal to the party."

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at thatsonline for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in China With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Magazines!

Visit the archives