The economy isn't the only thing that's growing fast in China -- so are people's beer bellies.
John Lennon once said that French rock was like English wine.
Chinese beer is like both, and also like Chinese wine.. But we keep coming back for more.There’s a hierarchy of price, taste and most importantly, alcohol content.
To save you kuais and calories, here are the most popular beers in China, the best, the worst and, yes, the tastiest.
Naale’s impenetrable slogan: “Ale, love for you.”
Naale Stoutbeer (艾尔黑啤酒)Alcohol content: 4.5 percent
Most frequently spotted: In your local bodega.
This baby don’t go down easy.
Described by a local beer drinker as “Pittsburgh factory weather runoff,” Naale Stoutbeer tastes like the backwash of an actual stout, yet somehow remains popular.
With hints of chocolate, coffee and indiscriminate metal that could be melted into bullets, it’s one of the most popular and readily available in big cities like Shanghai.
Your guess is as good as ours as to the reason people keep drinking this stuff.
What it says about you: You’re an adventurous son of the British Empire.
Drink it if you’re boring.
Naale White Beer (艾尔白啤酒)Alcohol content: 3.3 percent
Most frequently spotted: Wherever fine spirits are served.The albino cousin of stout, if you’re not interested in taste, and not interested in catching much of a buzz, this is your best friend.
Like many of its fellow white beers, Naale White is unsatisfying and smells like fermented coconut milk.
At least the nationalistic label gives you something to ponder while drinking. This beer, if nothing else, is proud of how boring it is.
What it says about you: You like boring beer and you need more variety in your life.
The brew for Shanghai skaters.
Snow(雪花啤酒)Alcohol content: 3.2 percent
Most frequently spotted: At Shanghai skate parks.
We'll probably catch you and your bros chugging on some of these after your skate “seshes.”
Why? Duh, there’s a rock climber on the can.
So, technically it’s for rock climbers. But since Shanghai doesn't have many cliffs, unless you count the odd skyscraper, skaters embrace the next best extreme sport.
Characterized by its chilled, watery froth, this beer beats all on a hot day.
What it says about you: You're a sidewalk surfer, or maybe fruitbooter (in other words, your rollerblade).
An extremely localized Japanese brand.
Suntory (三得利)Alcohol content: 3.6 percent
Most frequently spotted: Where is it not spotted?
Sino-Japanese joint venture Suntory is omnipresent and cheap.
It’s well-carbonated, well-balanced and the label harks back to Japanese woodblock printing.
It’s usually cheaper than Tsingtao, and comparable in taste, so this is often what non-discriminating drinkers reach for.
What it says about you: You drink beer.
Don’t read the label to people from Qingdao.
Tsingtao 青岛啤酒)Alcohol content: 3.3 percent (although there are several different varieties)
Most frequently spotted: On overpriced drink menus.
The most frequently mispronounced words in Mandarin, Tsingtao is a staple.
Hoppier than Suntory, but also more expensive and less potent, Tsingtao has tremendous international distribution, so people who frequent Asian restaurants back home know it by name and order accordingly.
What it says about you: You’re a victim of clever advertising. Or from overseas.
A taste from across the strait.
Taiwan Beer (台湾啤酒)Alcohol content: 4.5 percent
Most frequently spotted: In stores in mainland China.
Since you can drink beer anywhere in China (we once spotted someone drinking in an ICBC ... makes waiting in line easier), this puts the punk rock back in day drinking.
That said, it’s not very palatable. But at a whopping 4.5 percent, who cares?
What it says about you: You root for the underdog.