[INITIAL DRAFT – full report to follow]
This past weekend, Beijing East Hotel hosted the 2nd iteration of the Beijing Autumn Craft Beer Festival, organized by Slow Boat Brewery. Helped along by two straight days of miraculously clean, sunny and comfortable autumn weather – as well as the opening of a new subway line servicing the area – the crowd was reportedly bigger and more sustained than last year. This second edition also boasted 14 beer tents compared to the previous year’s 11. I tried my best to make the rounds and sample each tent’s offerings, but as I noted in my announcement about joining the NBeer team, I was largely preoccupied with helping out at their tent.
This year’s breweries/tents were: 18 Brewery, Wuhan; Amoy Brau, Xiamen; Arrow Factory Brewing, Beijing; Bad Monkey Brewery, Dali; Beijing Homebrewing Society, Beijing; Bionic Brew, Shenzhen; Boxing Cat Brewery, Shanghai; Calvin Beer Company, Hefei; Chengdu Harvest Brewing Company, Chengdu; Great Leap Brewing, Beijing; 京 A Brewing Co. , Beijing; Master Gao Brewing, Nanjing; NB Craft Brewing Company, Beijing; Slow Boat Brewery, Beijing.
A nice variety of beer eats were provided by five food vendors: pizza from Xian Bar, Japanese from Hagaki, sausages from Andy’s, falafel from Biteapita, and BBQ from Home Plate.
I’ll have a full write-up and more photos soon. In the meantime, here is Slow Boat’s report, below. (And yes, that’s me being ridiculous at the NBeer booth. :eyeroll: )
As readers have probably guessed by now, I have developed a good relationship with the people at NBeer. It is therefore with great excitement that I announce a 3-month temporary arrangement joining their team. I will be involved in promoting their brand, particularly to English-speaking foreigners, and representing them at events. I will also be conducting staff training and various other beer-related responsibilities at their venues.
NBeer is one of only a handful of craft-inspired brewpubs with an entirely Chinese management and brewing staff. While expat-run or -brewed operations have been, and will of course continue to be, pioneers of craft brewing in China, it is of my opinion that native Chinese brewers and consumers will be the ultimate barometers of beer culture in China. For this reason in particular, I am honored to be working with them.
In light of this new development, I want to assure readers that I intend to continue writing this blog, although now I might be somewhat busier than just a few months before. Also, I will do my best to keep this blog free of any professional biases, just as I did during my time with DXCEL. My personal hope is for craft beer to continue growing in China, regardless of whether it directly involves my current business relationships. A note of disclosure will also accompany subsequent postings involving NBeer, and will be added to the “About” page.
Ok, I guess “extravaganza” makes this sound a little more grandiose and bigger in scale than it ended up being, but it was still a selection of beers within (and some without) the top 20 rankings of “best in world” lists at BeerAdvocate.com and/or the top 100 at Ratebeer.com (which is an alphabetical list, unranked). So indulge us for just a little, ok?
Kindly hosted by NBeer’s Sanlitun location thanks once again to Xiao Biar‘s magnanimity, I was joined by Jim Boyce (aka BeijingBoyce), Tom Gaestadius of Arrow Factory and Tracy W, executive editor of Beer Link Magazine. Unfortunately unable to attend were invitees from Slow Boat and Jing-A. We’ll try not to rub their noses in it for the rest of their lives – at least not TOO much… 😉
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.”
Read in full…
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.
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.
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.
Read in full…
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…