Interviewed by Beijing Boyce

Beijing Boyce has posted a small interview with me.  (Reproduced below)


Most important question first: Your choices at a bar are bottled Budweiser, Carlsberg, and Heineken. Which one do you drink and why?

No cocktails, wines, or spirits? I might swallow my pride for Budweiser, and only because of the brown bottle. If I know they stored it properly, then maybe Heineken: nowhere near a proper German pils (which it’s descended from), but slightly more flavorful than Carlsberg and exponentially more so than Bud.

The choice of imported beer in Beijing has dramatically increased in the past few years. Which five do you like best? How about draft beer?

If coerced to pick five bottled beers from Beijing’s current selection as the only ones for import ever again, then in no particular order: North Coast Red Seal Ale, Achel Bruin, Loterbol Blond, Fuller’s London Porter, and Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. (Am I allowed to beg for Brooklyn Lager as an honorable mention?) Wow, I shudder even thinking this way. Thank goodness for the progress we already have!

(DISCLOSURE: As of this writing, I am currently in negotiations to work as a sales representative for DXCEL, the importers and distributors of Red Seal and Brooklyn Lager.)

For imported drafts, selection is still quite slim, but it would be sad if even Guinness and Hoegaarden were gone. Does Face Bar still have Tetley’s? Frank’s Place still have Kilkenny’s? By the way, Schindler’s sundry German taps and De Koninck at The Tree are some rarities that I appreciate.

What are the five best places to grab a beer in Beijing?

Well, things here change quickly, as we all know. My quick current list, excluding shops and markets: Kro’s Nest for American craft beer. Beer Mania for broader selection, although they’re often out of stock of what I want, in which case, my second choice might be Danger Doyle’s. Morel’s for strictly Belgian offerings. In October the Beijing Paulaner offers a traditional amber-colored Märzen, which they don’t even brew for the ‘Wiesn in Munich anymore.

Are there are any tricks to know about storing beer at home?

Storing beer is certainly a challenge in hot weather. Meanwhile, regardless of season, direct light is of course enemy number one, particularly for green or clear bottles – even 10 minutes of sunlight or just several hours of fluorescent lighting on the shelf will “skunk” them. Temperature is probably only a distant second concern, although obviously any extended period in hot temperatures is never desired, especially if there is still active yeast in the bottle.

For about 90 percent of beers, mainly pay attention to freshness – only a select few are actually improved by cellaring or aging. (And honestly, how many city dwellers have the resources for a true cellar?) Many styles of beer deteriorate surprisingly quickly, so obviously an extra “beer fridge” is a good choice.

It bugs me that companies put beer in green or clear bottles, instead of brown ones, because we know light can damage it. What are your pet peeves about beer?

Green/clear bottles also remains my number one complaint. “Pet peeve” number two is drinking out of the bottle as opposed to pouring into a glass. You deprive yourself of two crucial components towards appreciating what you’re drinking: appearance and aroma. Good brewers put effort into those aspects – why let their hard work be for naught?

Other “pet peeves” usually involve people’s (mis-)perceptions about beer, which are many, and not just amongst people here in China. But that requires a separate interview or article.

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