Craft Beer Movement Taking Root In China
on 08/11/11 at 3:04 pmBeer
Though its first modern brewery opened as early as 1903, until recent years beer culture in China started and ended with cheap, German-style light lagers. However, in the same way the tastes of many Chinese wine drinkers have progressed from inexpensive domestic plonk to high-priced imports, beer drinkers in China are becoming more receptive to the craft beer movement that has swept through North America and Europe over the last 30 years. With premium beer gaining a stronger foothold in cities like Shanghai and Beijing, domestic Chinese beer brands have even gotten in on the game, with Tsingtao launching its “Augerta” and “Yipin Pure” lines and Zhujiang taking a stab at Belgian-style witbier with “Supra White Beer.” Microbreweries, though, have until recently been largely absent from the China market, in stark contrast to Japan and Singapore.
But this, like everything in China, is changing quickly. Founded in 2008, Shanghai’s Boxing Cat Brewery is at the forefront of the Chinese craft beer scene, along with newer microbreweries like Beijing’s Great Leap Brewery and Slow Boat Brewery. To get a better sense of where China’s beer movement is and where it could be heading, Jing Daily recently sat down for a chat with Boxing Cat co-founder Lee Tseng and brewmaster Michael Jordan at the brewery’s Sinan Mansions location.
Jing Daily (JD): Can you say a little bit about the concept behind Boxing Cat Brewery?
Lee Tseng (LT): The first Boxing Cat Brewery opened in April 2008. The main concept behind the Boxing Cat is we wanted to really introduce craft beer, which was at that time almost nonexistent, to the Chinese market. The country itself was, and still is, more entrenched in German beer culture than any other culture. Over the past three years, since we started, a movement has started in a sense, as we’ve brought in craft beer culture and more premium beer importers, mostly Belgian, have come here.