Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tsingtao: Lager Beer

We tend to not post as many standard lagers around here, so I'll take another stab at it with China's major alcoholic export to the US, Tsingtao Lager Beer. Yes, let's thank the Chinese for clearing up the long-standing war over whether Lagers are beers. Put down the weapons folks, for it is now the 21st Century, and China has taken its rightful place as the arbiter of consumer labels.

Founded originally in 1903 as a British-German brewing company to produce German beer in China for Westerners along the colonial coast, Tsingtao Breweries became a state enterprise after the glorious people's revolution. It was privatized in the early 90s, and around the same time ran into major quality control issues due to pesticides, pollution, and God knows what else the people unleashed into the fields to fill their production quotas. The brewery's name also changed to one of those redundant Chinese company names, so now it's something like Tsingtao Brewery Co. Ltd. X-treme Capitalist Enterprise, which would make Chairman Mao very double-plus proud.

As a response to this contamination, Tsingtao now imports all its barley from France, Canada and Australia, while growing its hops in the rural western Chinese region of Xinjiang. Well, I guess those Uyghurs are good for something besides being dominated and oppressed by Han China.

The first thing you'll notice about this beer is its green bottle. As any beer fanatic knows, you're supposed to stay away from the green due to its ability to skunk beers rather quickly. My only guess is that the brewers were trying to mimic Heineken's success in America, and thought green = good! Whatever, guys.

Probably the first couple bottles of this stuff that I've had have been skunked. This is probably because I bought them at shady Chinese restaurants that made me sick afterwards. Until recently, I've stayed away from it. This was, of course, until I went to a damn good Chinese restaurant in LA (Yang Chow in Chinatown). It was the only beer on the menu, so ordered a glass bottle.

I turned out to be pleasantly surprised. For once, it wasn't skunked. It poured as a standard yellow lager, similar to an American macrobrew beer. But it was crisp and palatable, with a sweet aftertaste that pleasantly sticks to your mouth. As long as it's not skunked, I could drink this all day.

SUPERHAPPYFUNKITTENBONUS: Like most Chinese products, this stuff a cheap import. I picked up a 12 pack for $10.99 at Marty's Liquors here in Allston, and I'm sure it's even cheaper at Bevmo back on the West Coast. It's also 4.8% ABV. Nice!

BEWAREBOURGEIOUSDEFECTS: Like most Chinese products, you'll probably get a defective one eventually. Don't be surprised if you get a skunked beer, so I recommend you buy in bulk so you can quickly pound a bottle and open another.

1 comment:

Mattie said...

I hate skunked beer. I had a skunked 22oz Newcastle a couple months ago. Clear glass. I mean are you kidding me? I can't say I've ever had that problem with a Heiny though. Maybe they do a better job keeping it outta the sun. Who knows.