2015 Beijing Autumn Craft Beer Festival 北京秋韵手工精酿啤酒节

(Photo courtesy of Slow Boat Brewery)

(Photo courtesy of Slow Boat Brewery)

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 牛啤堂 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.

Finally got a chance to try Boxing Cat‘s brews, along with meeting brewmaster Michael Jordan (no, not the basketball legend).  Their famed Right Hook Helles was quite impressive – yes, me and craft lagers again.  Their Big Boy DIPA was no slouch either.  Also interesting was their single-hop offering, which featured the Nuell Melon variety, one of the newer experimental hops from Germany.

Most breweries showcased their flagship brews plus one or two seasonals, with pumpkin beers from a handful of them.  NBeer’s own Pumpkin Ale ( 秋日南瓜 ) differed from the rest because it’s a Chinese interpretation of the style, eschewing the usual pumpkin pie spices common to the American-inspired originals.  No cloves, allspice, cinammon nor nutmeg were used.  Instead, brewmaster Yinhai chose star anise, supplemented by ginger and coriander seed, for a more Asian sensibility.  It seemed to pleasantly surprise a lot of festgoers, several of whom tired of the cloying character found in the more conventional spice mixture usually encountered in most attempts at the style.

In that vein, I think NBeer provided one of the more experimental (and dare I say creative?) showings at the festival.  The Raspberry Beijingerweisse (see what we did there?) was a big hit and was actually the first beer of ours to kick, contrary to what naysayers of sour beers might have expected.  Another eyebrow-raiser was our Zhongnanhai Smoke Ale 中南海烟熏, a light amber-blonde brew that introduced many attendees to their first ever smoked beer.  The only other commercial brewery doing anything as arguably experimental (in my humble, biased opinion) for the festival was Slow Boat, which brought their Maple Bacon Ale – a tasty number that I really enjoyed, but more hit-or-miss with a surprising number of others to whom I recommended giving it a try.  Oh well, that’s how creativity works – not everyone can be a fan.  At least not at first…

For more photos, here is Slow Boat’s report, below. (And yes, that’s me being ridiculous at the NBeer booth. :eyeroll:   )


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