As a first timer in China, my experience was truly refreshing and amazing. With Kevin & Qiuxia as my guides (and often translators) I was comfortable exploring the Chengdu beer scene with eyes wide open.
In a series of posts, I will delve into the beer culture of Chengdu by looking at the available beers, social culture, and micro brewing in China.
Let’s start with what can beer we found in Chengdu! Most convenience and grocery stores (711, Wo Wo, and METRO to name a few), offered a small variety of choices. Beer and other low-ABV alcoholic drinks were readily available for purchase for 6-12 RNB, or roughly a couple U.S. dollars. We stayed in a hotel near the heart of the city, which was conveniently located above a mall and multi-business building. Right outside the door was a trusty 711 that I frequently visited during my time in China. In terms of the variety of brands and even styles in the Chengdu market, selection is limited. Common brands I did see include Snow, Budweiser, Heineken, Carlsberg, and of course QingDao 青岛啤酒 (Tsing Tao). Most beers were under 5%ABV and German/Belgian-style lagers. As a lover of Belgian and full-bodied beers, I was a little disappointed by the small selection, but grabbed some Snow and QingDao and dove in to the light and bright flavor of Chinese beer.
Drinking culture in Chengdu did not seem as large as it is the US. I couldn’t firmly grasp what the “local favorites” were, but I did see a lot of Budweiser and Snow. Later on, at a local brewery and bar, we saw more imported beer like Vedett, Ayinger, Hoegaarden. Tucher, etc. All were still pretty light in ABV and in style (mostly Pilsners and Lagers).
The selection at the western-influence METRO store was much wider, but like an American Costco, beer was only sold in larger packs. I was tickled to see Pabst as one of the choices!
Cheers! 干杯 (gan bei)