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Craft beer industry fizzing with action

CCTV.com

08-13-2014 00:20 BJT

Beer is becoming big business in China. As disposable income among Chinese consumers increases, so too does their willingness to pay more for a quality brew. This has helped a fledgling craft brewing industry establish itself among the big names.

Late evening in an old district of Beijing and a new trend is fizzing with action; beer.

But not just any old beer, a growing number of Chinese drinkers are now demanding more than just the well-known and common varieties.

Bars like this one are offering over two hundred imported brands, and they're now popping up all over the city.

They're fuelled by young professionals with more money to spend and increasingly sophisticated palettes to satisfy.

"I prefer beers with a malty flavour. In terms of countries, I like German or Belgian beers because their brewing techniques and flavours are really, really good," a customer called Jin Hexuan said.

"This beer I'm drinking was recommended by the manager. I like a sweet taste, so he introduced me to this one, which has a fruity flavour, more suitable for women. That's why I'm drinking it - it tastes of mango,” Luo Jing, another customer, said.

This bar was opened in 2010 by Xiao Shuai.

He says he sees a bright future for interesting tipples in China.

"Because Chinese living standards are now relatively high, many locals want to try something new. Instead of Chinese lager, many people are now trying other imported beers, new textures, tastes. I think foreign beers are going to get even more popular in the future in China," Xiao Shuai said.

Beer has always been popular in China.

The country is the world's biggest beer consumer, and has been since 2003, according to a study by Japanese beer producer Kirin Holdings.

And the industry is growing fast.

Xiao Shuai says he's planning to capitalise on this growth by producing his own craft beer.

"Right now I just want to make it, not sell it. I want to create a new taste and texture. When I've perfected the technique I'll offer it to regulars for free. Once people know the brand I'll gradually start selling it," Xiao Shuai said.

But success will mean breaking into an already competitive market. This is an annual Chinese craft beer festival in Beijing.

It's here that the ancient tradition of making beer meets the space-age architecture of modern China.

It brings together many Chinese beer enthusiasts, including Hu Peiguo, a member of the Beijing Homebrewing Society. He's been making beer since 2012 and has brought five of his best to the event.

"I've always seen beer as something very diverse that comes in many different forms. So I want to make a beer with our own special Chinese-style. I don't want to copy a recipe of making beer,"  Hu Peiguo said.

Craft brewing is still a niche market in China, but it's definitely growing. Independent brewers here are hoping the industry won't lose its fizz anytime soon.

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