Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beer in China

In my previous post, I discussed my recent trip to the People's Republic of China. As promised, the topic of this post will be the beer that I consumed while on my trip. Unfortunately, most Asian brews seem to be standard American-style mass-produced lagers. I only had one Chinese beer, and that was the ubiquitous Tsingtao. To me, it seemed no different than a Bud Light or a Miller Lite. I also had pints of two other Asian beers that were of similar quality. The first was Tiger beer from Singapore. The second was San Miguel from the Philippines. Neither was particularly memorable.

While I was in Shanghai, I stayed at the SwissĂ´tel Grand Shanghai. The hotel is in the Jing'an District which is one of the more Western-oriented areas of Shanghai. Therefore, I was able to enjoy several European beers during my stay. The first was a draft of Kilkenny at Malone's American Cafe which is just down the street from the hotel. Kilkenny is an Irish cream ale. It is sort of a cross between stablemates Guinness and Smithwick's. The taste is Irish red with the creaminess of an Irish stout. I really enjoyed Kilkenny, but it does not yet have much of a foothold here in the US. The next draft was also at Malone's, but it was not a beer. Strongbow is a cider produced by English cider maker Bulmers. I honestly did not know was I was getting when I ordered the drink, but I was pleasantly surprised with the cider that I received.

Finally, I had two beers from Erdinger Weissbräu in the steakhouse inside my hotel. Erdinger is a German brewery. I had a bottle of their weissbier and a bottle of their dunkel. The weissbier is an hefeweizen, and the fact that I enjoyed it should be no surprise given my preference for style. The dunkel is actually a weissbier dunkel (or dunkelweizen) which is basically a dark wheat beer with a maltier taste. I think I enjoyed the darker beer even more than the lighter version.

Incidiently, Erdinger checks the letter 'E' off the list for my self-assigned task of consuming a beer from a brewery for each letter of the alphabet. However, I think the large brewing companies makes covering the entire alphabet a bit ridiculous. It is often difficult to decide exactly what to label the brewer for a particular beer. For example, the letter 'I' is covered on the Beer List by Boddingtons Pub Ale which was originally brewed by Strangeways Brewery which was sold to Whitbread Beer Company which was acquired by Interbrew which was included in a merger to become InBev, and is now part of corporate giant AB InBev. None of which is relevant to the beers I drank in China.

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