4th Annual China “Master Cup” Homebrewing Competition 第四届“大师杯”中国家酿啤酒大奖赛

Here we are, the judges selected to pick the "best in show" and winner of this year's Master Cup

As promised, here’s my feature on being a judge at the 4th Annual China “Master Cup” Homebrewing Competition…

[Excerpt] “Firstly, one needs to recognize that there is a relative paucity of qualified judges in China, so there were only fifteen of us and we had to taste approximately 80+ entries each. There were eight categories and each judge would be assigned two of them: one flight for the morning session, and the other in the afternoon.”

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Arrow Factory Brewing 箭厂啤酒


Per the recommendations of multiple friends, Arrow Factory Brewing’s Taproom had to be among the next destinations on my list. Only a couple hutong blocks west of the Lama Temple, the surrounding Wudaoying area is an eclectic mix of cafes, bars and boutiques, catering to tourist, upscale and/or hipster clientele, each to varying degrees. Feel free to make what you will of that description… 😉 The hutong they are situated on is itself called the “Arrow Factory Hutong” 箭厂胡同, which also hosts an art studio of the same name. The taproom was formerly their only production site, before they upgraded to a larger location in the outer Shunyi District. Immediately adjacent is Stuff’d Restaurant, whose full, UK-tinged menu is also served in the taproom.

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NBeer Pub 牛啤堂

So much beer... so little time...

In Chinese culture, there is the concept of moqi 默契 – an implicit or unsaid understanding between two parties. People here frequently talk about how it permeates interpersonal relationships and daily interactions. In my experience, it often seems to intersect with the general human fascination towards serendipity or fortuitous encounters. This past Tuesday evening once again saw these forces collide at the 2-year anniversary celebration of NBeer Pub 牛啤堂, held at their original location in the Xicheng neighborhood of Huguosi 护国寺.

It all started with a long-time reader of this blog, Yinhai. Contacting me promply after the blog’s revival last week, he invited me to the party. Upon arriving, I immediately encountered the co-founder, Xiao Biar, who recognized me before I could embarrassingly muster the same for him.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Great Leap 大跃啤酒, Slow Boat 悠航鲜啤, Jing-A 京A

This summer remains a scorcher, but I [barely] braved the muggy heat to make my long overdue visits to these marquee brewpubs. On Wednesday, I navigated Beijing’s famous hutongs, first to Great Leap Brewing‘s original #6 location in Doujiao Hutong south of the Drum Tower (Gulou) and then several blocks away to Slow Boat Brewery Taproom in the Dongsi area. The next day saw me stopping by Jing-A Brewing Co., which has arguably the “fanciest” or most “upscale” location of these three, near Sanlitun in the 1949 Hidden City complex. Suffice to say, it was obvious to me why they all have done so well. Finally, after some noble-but-failed attempts, the American-style craft brewpub has carved out a solid foothold in this city.

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Finally, I’m back!

It’s been a tumultuous and difficult past five years. Sometimes life just happens. I apologize to everyone for not keeping this blog up to date, and especially to those who may have tried to contact me during this extended hiatus. I can’t guarantee that I’ll find your original message, but hope that in case I don’t, perhaps you’d be willing to reach out to me once again.

Now I’m back in Beijing, and the beer scene has blossomed beyond what I ever could have imagined back in 2010. Lots of catching up to do! I have some backlogged entries I’d like to put up, but priority will be towards new beginnings. Onwards!





(UPDATE July 1, 2010: Chinese translation now available here. Many thanks to my friend, Xiantao, for his assistance.)

My first experience with Chinese language media here in Beijing has turned out to be a mixed bag. The current June 2010 issue of 《智族》(aka: GQ China) has a feature on beer (as well as venues serving beer and showing World Cup matches). I was interviewed for information about beer and about my blog, but what eventually got included into the article was a sidebar with me supposedly offering five “insider tips about drinking beer” (喝啤酒窍门). Alas, tips #2 and #3 contain significant errors or omissions, while #5 is a FALSELY ATTRIBUTED STATEMENT. Here is my attempt to set the record straight. Read more…

Inedit, Chateau Jiahu, Dead Guy, Samuel Smith, etc

(UPDATE: City Weekend article here)

(UPDATE 2: Beijing Today’s article, in PDF format. May 14 – 20, 2010 Issue, page 17)

In late April, I was proud to showcase a few select beers for several invitees from the English-language media in Beijing. Amongst them were Annie Wei from Beijing Today, Gabriel Monroe from Agenda, and Greg Williams from City Weekend. We were also joined again by Jim Boyce and by Frank Siegel, who graciously hosted the event at the new Kerry Center location of Sequoia Cafe.

There were six beers featured, with three of them available in Beijing and the other three which I hand-carried back from the states:

(DISCLOSURE: I am currently a sales representative for DXCEL, the importers and distributors of Estrella Inedit and Rogue Dead Guy into mainland China.)

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Saison and Barleywine Tasting

In mid-April, I conducted a tasting flight of saisons, and finished with some barleywines paired with Stilton cheese. We were hosted at Sequoia Cafe (Guanghua Lu shop), and attended by the same participants of my holiday beer dinner, as well as Alain Leroux of the Taillan winery in Hebei.

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Meanwhile down South…

I would be remiss not to mention a couple articles from earlier this year, covering the growing beer scene in Shanghai:

Beer in China: Shanghai hops ahead of the (six) pack
Shanghai Prime For A Premium “Beer Revolution”

I don’t know if I personally agree with the comments that “the beer scene in Beijing is much better developed [than Shanghai]”, or that it’s necessarily a good thing for locals to ganbei (“bottoms up”) one bottle after another of a rich, heavy, high-alcohol imperial stout. But overall, some good signs for the future.