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Beer: The World's Oldest Alcoholic Drink

by Jacqueline M. Newman


Summer Volume: 2018 Issue: 25(2) page(s): 33

This alcoholic beverage most say is the world’s oldest, and consumed thousands of years ago. It is not just the oldest, but the third most popular beverage consumed worldwide. The other two are water and tea, in that order.

Most beers in China have less than three percent to near fourteen percent alcohol. Their impact on the central nervous system varies, but in China it is often the lower amounts of alcohol. China is a large producer and a large imbiber, a bottle costs from less than a quarter to several dollars for one, if a special craft beer. In 2015, the Chinese did produce more than twelve billion gallons of beer and that was more than any other country in the world.

In 1978, there were less than ninety breweries there while this past year there were more than a thousand of them. Tsingtao, sometimes spelled Qingtao, was the second largest brand, founded by German settlers in 1903 in the Shandong Province; their largest is CR Snow.

The Chinese drink about one quarter of the world’s commercial beers and make more than three times the amount of beer the US does, They consumes one-quarter of the beer made in the world, their most popular style is pale lager. The majority of craft beers in China are foreign-owned, and most are imported.

Making and popularizing craft beers, the ‘Great Leap Brewery’ was China’s first micro-brewery; it opened in Beijing in 2010. ‘Honey Ma Gold’ is their most popular brew infused with local ingredients such as honey from near the Great Wall and Sichuan pepper from that province.

Some beers in China are made from barley, rose petals, osmanthus blossoms or another main ingredient. Their ‘Liquid Laundry’ is a Chinese craft beer made in Shanghai; it is a spin off of the Boxing Cat Brewery that recently opened with China’s first gastropub and its own large posh lounge.

There are other Chinese craft breweries, all rather recent, the Moonzen Brewery is in Hong Kong. There is one named after the Chinese door gods; it and others use Chinese ingredients which people in that country appreciate for their local names and local tastes. One such, called ‘Moon Goddess Chocolate Stout,’ actually uses Chinese chocolate. The popular Kitchen God Honey Porter uses several northern honeys including the one from near the Great Wall. This brewery is unique because it is owned by a husband-wife couple, the Raphaels whose male is Chinese, his wife Caucasian.

In China and worldwide, beers are made with barley, broomcorn millet, Job’s tears, hops, snake-gourd root, yams, wild grapes, hawthorn, rice, sorghum, or other main ingredients. Most use lager yeast to set off the sugars, or Saccharomyces pastorianus as their main starter.

China did make the world’s oldest fermented beverage eight to ten thousand years ago. They do not make nor consider their beers as good or as popular as German beers. But, per capita, they produce more beer than any other country. Anther popular beer is Suntory.

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