(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.
(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:
- Inedit, by Estrella Damm (Barcelona, Spain). A spiced, wheat ale designed in collaboration with three-star Michelin chef Ferran Adrià and his staff at El Bulli. Available in Beijing
- Chateau Jiahu, by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Delaware, USA). Inspired by a 9000 year old beverage found at a Neolithic archeological site in Jiahu, Henan Provice. NOT available in Beijing
- Dead Guy Ale, by Rogue Ales (Oregon, USA). Descended from the German Maibock style, a strong springtime lager, but brewed with Rogue’s house ale yeast. Available in Beijing
- John John Dead Guy Ale, by Rogue Ales (Oregon, USA). A special batch of Dead Guy Ale that was aged in Rogue’s own whiskey barrels. NOT available in Beijing
- Imperial Stout, by Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster, England). A classic Russian Imperial Stout. Available in Beijing
- Bourbon County Brand Stout, by Goose Island (Chicago, USA). An imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. NOT available in Beijing
(DISCLOSURE: I am currently a sales representative for DXCEL, the importers and distributors of Estrella Inedit and Rogue Dead Guy into mainland China.)
Read in full…
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.
I would be remiss not to mention a couple articles from earlier this year, covering the growing beer scene in Shanghai:
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.
Just prior to Christmas 2009, I organized a holiday-themed beer dinner at the Astor Grill, with the immense help of the F&B Director of the St. Regis Hotel, Oscar Martinez. In attendance were: Jim Boyce (aka Beiijing Boyce), Frank Siegel (of Sequoia Cafe), Brandon Trowbridge (executive chef at NOLA), and David Gray (photojournalist on assignment with Reuters, and wine enthusiast). The goal of the tasting was to introduce some of the food-pairing potential of beer with a turkey-centric holiday dinner.
Read in Full…
In early December 2009, I came across a restaurant/brewpub called Golden Hans 金汉斯 in the Wangjing area of Beijing (in Chaoyang District). I figured I would give it a shot. Lo and behold, it was one of the weirdest and surprising beer experiences in my life. They brew three German-style beers: a “pilsener”, a dunkel, and a weissbier. And for less than 50 RMB per person, you can partake in a mixed buffet of generic [sub-par, but usually edible] “Western” and “Chinese” food… WITH… (get this…) …Brazillian churrasco! Well, at least it TRIES to be churrasco – to be fair, it’s probably the most palatable food on their menu. Adding to this bizarre cultural amalgamation, the waitresses are dressed in Bavarian dirndl and the waiters making the rounds with skewers of meat are decked out in cowboy-like gaucho attire. Um… yeah…
But onto the BEER… it’s actually rather decent (especially considering the price)! …[Full, with photos]
Just before Thanksgiving 2009 [US edition, Nov], I held a private tasting at my apartment in Haidian with two blog readers and also joined by my flatmate, Dan Rosen. Nan Chen (USA) and Chris Kolbu (Norway) were both in Beijing studying Chinese for the fall/autumn semester, and came across my blog. Unfortunately, Shannon (from my previous tasting) had to cancel at the last minute. We of course did what we could to enjoy ourselves in his honor…
On Thursday, October 29, DXCEL and City Weekend concluded their month-long “Beerjing” promotion at Danger Doyle’s. As a new member of the DXCEL Beijing team, I was pouring beers for everybody alongside our regional manager, Simon Pendergast.
In addition to the beers promoted all month, we also poured several beers that DXCEL does not usually carry. Some were very localized imports, or used very unusual ingredients. These included Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Well’s Banana Bread Beer, Chalky’s Bite by Sharps (uses fennel seed), and Marston’s Oyster Stout.
Amongst the attendees were Beijing Boyce and City Weekend staff, as well as the winners of the Beerjing “Passport”, where patrons had to collect stamps from participating venues all month long.
(Update: Thanks to Jim Boyce for the photos. Also, I have decided not to do a full write-up at this time. If anybody has any questions about the beers featured or that you see in the photos, please feel free to leave a comment/question or contact me directly.)
When I returned from my visit to the US, there was only a few days left of the “Oktoberfest” (from the 9th to 25th) at Beijing’s Paulaner Bräuhaus (普拉纳啤酒坊) in the Kempinski Hotel/Lufthansa Center. The place is expensive, and the food is merely better-than-average (for a western restaurant in China). But I really wanted to get another taste of some of the best Märzenbier I’ve actually ever tasted ANYWHERE.
Granted, I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Munich itself, but I’d had the Marzenbier here in Beijing for the past two years, and it was great both times. Last year, I even wrote a glowing review of it.
Meanwhile, the mini-tent was booked weeks ahead of time, so I couldn’t get a seat. But I did manage to peek in and take some pictures: