5 Things: A guide to the best of China's domestic beer

By That's PRD, December 16, 2014

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With substantial coverage being given to the Guangzhou craft beer scene in the past month, it seems prudent to explore the other end of the spectrum for this week’s 5 Things. Let's take a look at the best of China's domestic suds.

Big-brand Chinese beer, much like all large batch beer, has a poor reputation among beer enthusiasts. Complaints generally range from, “this tastes watery,” to, “this is bland and smells like old socks,” to the oh-so-common, “this beer is crap.”

Craft beer in Guangzhou is great, no argument there, but what would the beer lovers of this city do if craft disappeared tomorrow? I understand this is virtually impossible to imagine, but try.

To answer this question we caught up with craft-aficionado Ashton Lin, co-owner of Restarea Beer Hub.

These are his picks for China’s best domestic beers:

 

1. Tsingtao Augerta 青岛奥古特

I find it hard to describe the taste, as the most common words we use to describe light pilsners are crisp, malty, smooth and gently hopped. This beer has all these features and stands out from the others with its pleasant and light bitterness.

 

2. Harbin 1900 Classic  哈尔滨1900经典

Slightly hoppy and gives an almost soda pop like thrill when you’re thirsty for a beer. Probably made with better ingredients, leading to the higher price (12 RMB per bottle if I’m correct).

 

3. Zhujiang Draft 珠江纯生

It’s a bottled "draft" beer. What more need I say? All jokes aside, this has got to be random, but as a Guangdong local, I do like this “locals” beer. It’s claimed to be a draft beer because it’s missing one step of the filtration process, making an unnoticeable contribution to a malty presence.

 

4. Tsingtao Regular 青岛啤酒

I also like this one because of its easy accessibility - you can practically get it anywhere. Most of the cans available in Guangzhou are brewed and canned in Sanshui, Foshan. It’s said the fresh cans from the original Tsingtao brewery are way better. So with curiosity eating away at me, I had a friend bring back a can for me so I could compare. To my surprise I didn’t recognize a difference at all.

 

5. Snow Beer 雪花啤酒

This beer is perfect when paired with barbequed food, largely due to the fact most street barbeques offer it. It is also very refreshing, a great choice with a meal.

//  To see more from our 5 Thing series, click here.

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