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About Chinese Beer

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1 About Chinese Beer on Thu 17 May 2012, 5:29 am

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

Harbin (哈尔滨啤酒)

Alcohol content: 3.6 percent

Most frequently spotted: In cheap, spicy restaurants.

Another watery journey into burp-ville awaits Harbin aficionados.

Despite its lack of taste, this is a hugely popular beer.

No aroma, no flavor, no aftertaste -- we’ve had mineral water that had more kick.

But if you’re chomping through a spicy meal and want something to put out the fire without getting in the way of your food’s flavor, Harbin is a good candidate.

What it says about you: You need to up your game and move on to something harder, like cream soda.

ANTARKTIK (力波南极啤酒)

Alcohol content: 4 percent

Most frequently spotted: Mushing across snowy tundra.

When a Chinese brand uses a sans-serif font, you know you’re in avant-garde territory.

An offshoot of REEB, ANTARKTIK is brewed with, wait for it, ice shipped in from the Antarctic!

This claim seems wildly improbable, but who cares? Check out the Soviet-era map of the South Pole on the label -- it’s like something from a 1970s spy novel.

The real surprise here is how drinkable this beer is. It’s bright without being watery, and has some decent layers of flavor in the mix.

It might not be a beer we’d take to the ends of the earth, but stack it up against most other Chinese brews and, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

What it says about you: You cheer for Drago in “Rocky IV.”

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