A better title might be craft beer in Beijing, but many of my friends who are involved in craft beer are spread out across multiple Chinese cities. I am very lucky to have been involved in the Chinese craft beer scene since almost the beginning because now I have so many friends, so many great people -- that I can always visit and talk with about what is going on in China. Things are changing quickly as with almost everything else in China (other than the laws regulating beer) so it should not have surprised me to see how well many of the operations are doing. But still, I was not only surprised but really happy to see how well business is doing and how much better our choices are with regards to both drinking and producing beer in China.

On the import side of things we have multiple new choices for American craft beers, including Dogfish, Great Divide, Firestone Walker and Founders. The picture below shows the cooler at NBeer's location out by PingAn'Li and as you can see it is packed with great choices. It is expensive ($10+) for a bottle but at least you can get it. Finally Chinese enthusiasts can taste a great beer and have something to compare other beers too. When you drink a Double Jack then you know what to shoot for when brewing your own IPA's or what to expect from other local brewers who are presenting double IPA's to you as examples of the style. Not to say there aren't other great double IPA's out there, but you have to admit they are a leading example of the style.

NBeer Beijing Craft Beer Cooler

Firestone Walker and Founders in China

One of the other fascinating developments is NBeer's Sabco Brew Magic that they use to produce beers for sale as well as "rent" to local home brewers. Yes - you can actually go in and talk to Yin Hai or the other guys there and set up a time to brew on their Sabco system. Then use one of their small conicals to ferment and BAM! you have beer to take home. It is a great concept that I have to admit I was totally skeptical about when they first explained it to me 2 years ago, but it seems to work out well for them. There are 3 Sabco Brew Magics in China that I know of, the first one I helped a friend ship into Beijing (which was a nightmare) and then the two that NBeer/Tipsy Face brought in shortly afterwards.

Sabco Brew Magic in China

There were lots of new brewing operations to visit, but one of the coolest stories was the third Great Leap location. Here I found a friend who started brewing with the Beijing Homebrew Society and is now one of the main brewers at Great Leap. I can remember when Enda was homebrewing at the embassy apartment and trying to deal with keeping the kitchen clean and finding a place to store all the fermenters. Now he is working commercially on a modern ten barrel system and they are producing top quality beer. He is totally enthused about it and in my opinion this guy was born to brew.

Great Leap ten barrel system