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|Shanghai Beer Fest Today!|
|Written by Tony Forder|
|Friday, 18 May 2012 20:19|
We were just a little early for the first ever Shanghai Beer Week, scheduled this week (May 14-19). Who knew?
Spearheaded by the folks at Boxing Cat Brewery, the week's events were scheduled to culminate with the 2nd Annual Sinan Mansions Beer festival May 19 featuring five Shanghai microbreweries (Br. Beer, The Brew, Shanghai BC) and about 40 beers including a few imports.
We did find Boxing Cat, however, and although American brewer Michael Jordan (originally from the Pacific NW) and owner Lee Tseng were in San Diego attending the Craft Brewers Conference, we enjoyed some lusty brews, perking up our parched tastebuds from days of mass-produced Pijo (beer).
The Pilsener was fine, the Pale Ale nice and hoppy, the IPA, what you'd expect from an American version, a Wit beer, also everything you'd expect, and specialties, Imperial Red Ale at 7.5% and a yummy Chocolate Stout.
The Boxing Cat has been going about three years with a brewery location outside of town and two separate pubs located in the French Concession area of Shanghai.
The Shanghai Brewing Co. wasn't far away so we availed ourselves, found a nice patio and a creditable list including three hefeweizens, decent IPA, OK stout and pilsener.
Dr. Beer was also in the area, but had later opening hours. The Brew, featuring brewer Leon Mickelson from upstate NY, is located in the Kerry Hotel across the river in the Pudong area.
There were a few beer seekers (including some veterans of ASN Belgium tours) on this 2-week tour of China, organized by Richard Yue, buddy of mine out in California. Beer was not the main focus of the tour, but we did what we could.
On our first full day in China, Mondial de la biere organizer Jeannine Marois and myself grabbed our national tour guide, Arnold, and broke from the group for a sidetrip deep into the ancient and narrow Hutong streets of Beijing — our mission, the Great Leap Brewing Co., on a tip from Jim Krejcie of Triple B. Jim's Chicago-based company has its brewing equipment fabricated in China and Jim is a frequent visitor there.
Miraculously it seemed, after a circuitous trip to say the least, and several local inquiries, our motorized rickshaw came to a stop. We looked around and there it was scratched on a door — Great Leap Brewing Co.
Behind the door we found American brewer Carl Setzer from Cleveland, his Chinese wife and a blackboard full of interesting sounding brews — The Prosperor, The Agressor, Imperial Pumpkin, HopGod 120, IPAs, Three Door Tripel, Oatmeal Porter. Carl opens sporadically, mostly by appointment, and specializes in pop-ups, where he'll take his brew to a particular location for an evening. Fans can follow on the brewery's facebook page.
He said all his ingredients — hops, malt and yeast — are sourced inside China.
We took a couple of growlers — liter-sized bottles — to share with fellow beer geeks at dinner.
From Guilan, we took a 3-hour boat trip on the Li River to Yangshou through fairytale limestone rock formations (we drank snake wine, with the snake in the bottle, but that's another story). In old town there, amongst bars featuring German imported beer, we saw a sign "Home-made Beer." Decent dark and pale lagers, yes, brewed in-house at a French-style restaurant on what looked like a 2-to-3 bbl system. I asked the waitress who was the brewer." Chinese guy," she said.
In fabled Shangri-La (Zhongian, until the government changed its name, probably for touristic reasons) near the Tibetan border, we saw the same sign "Home-made Beer" outside a cafe. The featured brew, in 12-oz bottles, was an unfiltered lager from the Shangri-La Brewing Co., opened with Swiss technology only a month previously.
Indeed, craft brewing is nascent in China, similar maybe to where it was in the US in the 1980s, but as China ever embraces the western world, you can bet it will grow. And while the market may be the new Chinese affluent sophisticates (and ex-pats) that is probably enough to get things going, especially in cities like Shanghai (China's most cosmopolitan). We found prices in Shanghai to be New Yorkesque —$8 for a pint, even if it was imperial.
|Last Updated on Friday, 18 May 2012 20:20|