Eating and drinking like a local is how the most experienced travellers really get to know their chosen destinations. The food and drink of a town, city, or country can tell you a lot, with links to its history and culture all confirmed with every local delicacy consumed.
We’ve been no stranger to recommending the foods and drinks that travellers just have to try on their trip to China. Drink-wise, Chinese teas have dominated for centuries, but as tastes evolve and locals become more experimental, there are a few new kids on the block…
Craft beers and cocktails have been big news in China in recent years. They may be no new thing in the West, but in the East, the most amazing concoctions are being created. There are now more than 300 craft breweries in China.
Even more bars and tap houses are opening their doors to provide a gathering place for ale enthusiasts to try the country’s most unique and delicious brews. In this blog post, we take a closer look at why craft beer and cocktails are king in China, and where exactly to sample the best Chinese brewed tipples on your upcoming trip.
A new phase in China’s beer history
Beer isn’t a new thing in China. The country’s nut scented black beer is just one of the traditional ales favoured by many Chinese regions. The production of beer on a much smaller scale in a brewery that only produces small quantities and uses their craftsmanship to ensure quality and flavour has been on the rise in recent years, however.
Craft beer has become something of a phenomenon all over China, and as we previously mentioned, the country is now home to hundreds of small, craft breweries. As well as being able to try the best craft brews at selected bars in many towns and cities, many breweries provide tours to introduce visitors to the best beer in China.
The best craft breweries in town
Whether your itinerary involves travelling to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Shenzhen, Kunming or all of the above, getting to know China’s beer scene has got to involve a visit to one of their breweries or tap houses.
Great Leap Brewing is one of the best known, highest quality, and most original craft beer brands in China, and luckily for you, they have a selection of tap houses to explore. One of their locations was even mentioned in this rundown of the top 5 breweries in China:
“Perhaps the best melody of good beer, good culture and local influences. Make sure you visit their #6 location for a perfect Beijing Hutong experience and sip through a pint (or few) in their outdoor courtyard. Don’t miss their Honey Ma Gold, subtly infused with Sichuan peppercorn and their best seller.”
Great Leap also holds the title of the first craft brewery in Beijing. Those travelling to other parts of China will want to check out Harvest Brewery in Chengdu, PEKO Brewing in Shenzhen and Boxing Cat in Shanghai.
Visitors to Hong Kong don’t have to miss out on sampling some great local ales either. Young Master Ales offers an authentic, home-brewed taste and is a big name on the local craft beer scene.
Craft beer not your thing?
The Chinese have been getting creative with cocktails, a trend that has seen a number of exciting bars come to the forefront. The Infusion Room in Beijing is particularly fashionable and creative. Two factors that make it stand out from the crowd.
Along with a hip lounge vibe and its industrial-chic décor, the Infusion Room cocktail menu uses traditional ingredients (like oolong tea and edible kelp) to produce a really inventive drinks list. Thinking of spending the summer in China? Then you’ll want to read our essential guide.