Harbin Lager | Harbin Brewery Group

122 Reviews
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Harbin LagerHarbin Lager

Brewed by:
Harbin Brewery Group

Style: Euro Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by atigerlife on 03-20-2006

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Reviews: 122 | Ratings: 173
Photo of rodbeermunch
2.64/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Usual macro yellow color and thin white head 1/4". Aroma was more like hay moreso than malt or hops.

High carbonation, low ingredients. Spritzy. Its a very light beer in every aspect. Rice? Lacks the skunkiness I like from a green bottle Euro lager style beer. Mild grain feels. Noble hops in a small way.

 315 characters

Photo of Dentist666
2.8/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

12% Plato.
Clear light golden, white head, low retention.
Smell - rice, grain, unpleasant.
Taste - clean malty, slightly metallic and rice.
Neutral mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

 178 characters

Photo of ExtraStout
2.11/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Had this in Shanghai. Very clear golden color with a tall rocky head, fair retention, medium sized bubbles whisking to the surface. Clumps of lace at the top of the glass not too much lacing the rest of the way down.

Clean, very grassy aroma, a bit metallic, fruity, some slight skunkiness. Clean taste, on the watery side, grassy, metallic, fruity. Finishes with a clean, crisp, tart taste with some slight sourness.

Very light mouthfeel with bits of graininess. Goes down easy enough, like water, just needs more flavor.

 526 characters

Photo of smcolw
1.73/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

Fizzy starting head that drops to nothing within 10 seconds. The beer looks like a lighter colored Chardonnay. Crystal clear.

The smell is quite mild. What little I could detect, was raw and grainy.

Hyper-carbonated--beyond soda pop. Again the graininess is dominating. No hop. I will not finish this beer. I think it's poor even by most macro standards.

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Photo of TerryW
2.25/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

An unremarkable macro brew, inoffensive, but bland.

Pours a soapy white head that disappears to a partial film, no lacing. Clear pale straw coloured beer. Looks like weak-kneed apple juice.

Smell is sweet and corny, on the apple juice side. Also tastes quite sweet and of corn and apple juice. Thin bodied, mild carbonation. Not offensive, just anonymous.

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Photo of wordemupg
2.42/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

500ml can poured into pint glass 7/12/12

A clear straw yellow with a few tiny particles and some giant sized bubbles feeding a finger of foam that sizzles out like a cola leaving zero lace and no evidence at all that there was foam.

S cardboard and soggy cracker with a little sweet malt and a faint chemical aspect that's hard to place with a little dry hay

T tastes like our macro lagers, much like the smell but everything's toned down, perhaps not a bad thing

M watery and the bubbles quickly pop in your mouth leaving it feeling flat, not much for aftertaste and I'm not sure if that's good or bad

O hey at least its not skunky, no real reason to bother with this one just another macro only this ones from China

it could be worse but it could be better, everything's faint and boring, don't bother

 811 characters

Photo of biboergosum
2.46/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

500ml can, 4.3% ABV, a not unsexy Oriental-lite presentation. Apparently imported by the Budweiser China Sales Company, from a different city than listed here. I'm too tired to actually look up or investigate that shit right now.

This beer pours a clear, pale straw colour, with two thinly foamy fingers of off-white head, which leaves a very low ebb of bubbly lace around the glass as it quickly fades from sight.

It smells of mineral water, a mild grainy corn grist, slight plastic essence, and little else. The taste is a fair bit sweeter, increasingly so in the same gulp, geez, of the sugary corn variety, natch, alongside a mild indistinct fruitiness, and thankfully very soft industrial metals.

The carbonation is more or less there, just there, the body a relatively meaty medium weight for the style, and generally smooth, nothing really egregious in the offset. It finishes on the sweet side, but hardly overly so, putting it a mile or so ahead of its average competitor, unfortunately with the tiniest of lingering, indicative plastic wrap twinges.

Probably the best lager, so, beer, that I've tried from China, and while it saddens me that it's from the AB/Inbev arm there, it also doesn't surprise me. This is pretty much Bud, since the usual runoff skank I get from this country's beers seems to be absent. So, considering the many degrees of degradation, um, good?

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Photo of valkyre65
3.96/5  rDev +40.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I used to get this beer in a 22oz bottle from our local sushi joint and it was one of my favorite lagers. Unfortunately when that place closed I was forced to seek it out at our local suppliers for purchase and can now definitely understand the low reviews it is getting here on BA. All of the Harbin I can find to buy is in 12oz bottles only and tastes nothing like the larger ones I used to get at that restaurant. Maybe they got them imported directly from China in lead lined shipping containers to protect them? ;)

The 22oz variety I used to get had a wonderful crystal gold shine to it and when poured would create about a one and a half inch micro foam head. The head provided nice lacing through almost the entire time there was still beer in the glass. There was a very clean and mildly astringent smell to this beer with just a hint of the Qindao Dahua hops and German lager yeast. The taste was very mild but crisp and refreshing, interestingly what you thought would be an impending aftertaste simply vanished before it could really develop. This beer had a big carbonation profile which lent nicely to the overall mouth feel/crisp note which made long draws very rewarding.

I will continue to seek out these larger(fresher?)Harbin's and hope that anyone aware of a direct supplier of them please let me know, as I really enjoyed this beer but refuse to drink the sub-standard 12oz variety that seems to be the only thing available at this point to me. So if you can find a source of the 22oz Harbin's, definitely chill one good and give it a try...goes great with sushi too :)

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Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.24/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 11.2oz green bottle into a pint glass at low altitude.

A: Pours a wheat color a shade or two darker than a typical American adjunct lager with a fizzy white head -- little retention and no lacing worth mentioning.

S: Some malt and yeast notes mixed with a faint fruitiness and a some metallic notes. Not a very strong smell overall.

T: Malty notes up front followed by some surprisingly clean fruit notes. The metals from the nose thankfully didn't come through here. My only real complaint here is that it's almost entirely absent of any bitterness.

M: Light bodied with a good deal of carbonation -- very dry. The dryness was the feature that stood out to me most about this beer, but not necessarily in a good way.

D: The carbonation and extreme dryness of this beer make it a little hard to take down. I feel like I would need some water after a couple bottles of this.

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Photo of ChrisCage
2.68/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 5

I've had this while in China, but this was a present given to me from a trip made Aug '10....canned product, still fine! This is also direct from China, and the can states that this brew is greater than or equal to 3.6% alc/vol.

A- Love the logo and coloring on the canPours with a clear grassy color...very clear, and with lots of big bristly looking carbonation. The head is thick and super white in color initially but fades quickly into virtually nothing...just a half ring around the glass....nothing special here...just another standard looking Chinese lager.

S- Dry, very adjunct-ish...primarily of boiled corn water, dry graininess, and not much else. I suppose there is some sweet malt noticeable but it seems unnatural. No hop bitterness to be smelt for miles!

T- More of the same here....just lots of sweet corn adjunct goodness! This flavor lingers after the swallow as well. Mixed in here there is some mild malt sweetness as well but is overshadowed by the corn. Absolutely no hop bitterness available to the palate.

M- Very thin, and with lots of palate scrubbing carbonation. These two characteristics keep this a crisp, relatively clean tasting brew, but there is the aforementioned aftertaste. There is also a bit of a cloying oiliness that gives this a real unique feel...watery yet oily....

O- Honestly, I remember this being better while on vacation, but then again, it was humid and warm. Again, like pretty much all other Chinese lagers, this one isn't anywhere near special, but for thirst quenching purposes, this hits the spot. It's pretty standard fare, but I'd drink it again and will at some point I'm sure

 1,641 characters

Photo of Knapp85
2.61/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours out as a golden color with some quick fading head. The smell was hardly noticeable at all. The Taste was just about the same as the aroma, very light. The mouthfeel was carbonated and light. Overa this beer wasn't that great. Nothing to rave about.

 264 characters

Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.2/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

600 mL bottle at 42 degrees into a pint glass. $2.99 @ Vineyard.

A: It pours a coppery-yellow color with a two-finger head of egg-shell color that turns rocky yet does not hold or lace very well.

S: Sweet grains, light berry fruit, and a little toast.

T: Sweet grains (I'm noticing a trend), faint noble hops, and a dry, lightly bready finish.

M: The body is medium-thin with average to high carbonation and a crisp finish.

O: It is easy drinking and is not offensive enough to mind downing the entire large bottle.

 520 characters

Photo of dbaker61
2.68/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Nice yellow color, crystal clear. A bit of head that quickly dissipated, leaving nothing to lace the glass.

Smell: Typical amount of mass-brew skunk, not overwhelming. Green bottle doesn't help, I'd guess.

Taste: Not a full-bodied lager, but there is some noticeable malt in there. Not much hops, but there must be a little as it is not very sweet.

Mouthfeel: Good mouthfeel which clears nicely. Not impressive, but better than some lagers.

Drinkability: This beer goes down okay. Not one I would crave, but its a decent enough beer. Might be better on a hot day.

Specifics on my bottle: Bought at a large Chinese supermarket in Qingdao, China. According to the label, it has at least 3.6% ABV with 10 degree Plato gravity.

 740 characters

Photo of tzieser
3.26/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served from a 660ml bottle into a SA perfect pint glass.

A: first off, I thought the packaging presentation was really cool. It was wrapped in a rice paper-esque sleeve with Chinese characters lining the side. Cool. I almost don't want to open it. Pours a golden color, crystal clear with a thick white head that settles quickly. Extra points for packaging.

S: typical adjunct aroma. corn, barley, cereal like character. no hops noticible. I'm not surprised.

T: well...its definitely not an euro pale lager. slightly sweet grain/corn flavor. a bit of barley, faint hop flavor for balancing. finishes clean. I guess my expectations were very low. I'm surprised this doesn't taste awful.

M&D: ok mouthfeel; decent drinkability.

Beer Advocate desperately needs a "Asian adjunct lager" category. I think this beer wouldve got better ratings of they expected a euro pale lager. I think this is one of the best Asian adjunct lager I've had. Better than sapporo or sing ha or whatever its called. Give it a shot if you want something cheap tasting.

 1,046 characters

Photo of uhhhaaron
2.68/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

consumed 02-06-2009, bottle into pint glass.

appearance: pours your typical golden straw color. managed to get a 2 finger head that quickly dissipated.

smell: sweet malts, grain & skunk. typical for this style.

taste: very bland. somewhat malty with a rice taste. some DMS, followed by a skunky finish.

mouthfeel: heavy-medium on the carbonation with a thin light body. somewhat of a crisp finish.

drinkability: easy drinker but i'd pick others over this (of the style)

 474 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
1.7/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Review from notes on 4/17/10.

This is a sad looking piss-yellow beer with no head. Corny and grainy. Not much else here. I'm struggling to find descriptors here. There is just a massive lack of flavor. Ok, I found some DMS, but isn't that unwanted in a beer? This isn't just a bland beer, it has a strange twang to it that I can't put my finger on. Regardless, I'm glad to have gotten rid of this last bottle from my fridge.

 425 characters

Photo of MarvinSnyder
3.35/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Notes from 6-7-10 - poured into a personalized pilsner glass - 1 pint/ 4.3 fl. oz. (600ml) capped bottle

Appearance: Pours a dull, pale yellow with a nice white head. The head quickly dissipates to a thin ring. Lacing stays fairly close to the head.

Smell: Aroma is very representative of the style. On the nose are grain, sweet malt, corn syrup, and some lager-type skunk.

Taste: Syrupy malt sweetness with a very slight hop bite, with a dry finish. A hint of lemon is also present. This beer has no real aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation. Even though it can be thin and watery, the sweet malt is delivered well over the palate.

Drinkability: This beer could be an easy-drinking session beer. However, it is a little too sweet for me.

Comments: All in all, this is an enjoyable, albeit average beer with some decent attributes.

 847 characters

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.22/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine April 2007.

This brand is trying to come out of the gate during the Year of the Pig with a bang. Marketing is heavy on this beer, so we're guessing you should be drinking it at your local pan-Asian eatery soon. Brewed with both Chinese and European hops.

Snap, crackle and pop, the fizzy white lace dissipates into a thin ring around the glass. Perfect clarity under the dull, pale yellow color. Lemony hops with a ghost-like cooked veggie-and-cabbage aroma. Semi-crisp; has just enough carbonation to get by, with a slick, medium body. Cereal grain and malt flavor has a bite to it; clean snap of hop bitterness tries to clear the palate as everything goes dry. Very little aftertaste.

This is one of those "When in Rome ..." beers, meaning you'd be lucky to find a pan-Asian eatery that has a diverse beer selection, so this will suffice in the meantime. Perhaps one of the cleanest Chinese Lagers to date, and a sure pick when put up against the rest. Kung pao beef with a side of Singapore fried rice would be sizeable enough to tangle with this beer.

 1,092 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.78/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

You know, I don't mean to be 'harbin' on pale straw yellow beer and all, but this didn't start out lookin' so good. Aroma was even worse. I dunno, something not barley or hops.

Seemed to have some kind of zest equated with hops though and a slight enjoyable bitterness. I mean, it grows on you, what looked doubtful, made a return back to acceptable and beyond. I dunno what they used as a barley malt substitute, but its very light. Its a light beer, but its pretty enjoyable, don't think its corn, not that kind of sweetness.

 528 characters

Photo of PatrickJCavanaug
2.51/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Compared to other beers in China its one of the better ones, but still quite poor compared to beers from the rest of the world. Taste is very inconsistent, usually its fine, a basic light larger. I have found on many occasions that its can have a stale taste. In that case its time to switch to something else because the whole batch is bad, and every Harbin in the bar will taste the same. Other times It seems overly hopped for the style, which is a pleasant surprise due to the fact that chinese beers hardly have any hop flavor at all. Also I found a fly in one of mine, so drink with caution.

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Photo of kegger22
3.23/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Harbin Lager was a brilliantly clear yellow with a modest white head that rapidly faded to a collar.

The aroma was skunk, initially but that quickly faded and a lagerish malt/grain smell replaced it.

The taste was malty sweet; good, but not head and shoulders above a long line of euro lagers. Just a slight bitter hops after taste.

The mouth feel was light bodied with sufficient carbonation.

Drinkability was good for this reasonably priced, lower ABV beer.

Harbin was a good lager, nothing exceptional, but solid.

 526 characters

Photo of cokes
3.48/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear golden with a moderate cap of white foam that depletes itself over a minute or two.
Dry maltiness, likely adjucted with rice, with a twinge of green-bottled light-induced skunk, vague green grape notes, and a minor grassy/floral hop bite.
Crispy dry as it hits the mouth. Soup crackers and rice cakes. A minor grapeyness arrises midway, along with some mineral water bitterness. Hops continue along the dry motif, and add touches of hay and dried flowers at the end.
Light bodied and well carbonation, but short of vapid and fizzy. This has a bit of character to it, albeit subtle. Its biggest asset is its thirst quenching ability. It's better than quite a few true "Euro" lagers out there. Better than expected, but still about mediocre.

 746 characters

Photo of ruckus232
3.15/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 Ounce green bottle poured into a mug

Appearance: Golden yellow color with a quickly diminishing white head

Smell: It has a corn/rice smell to it, very similar to what I would expect from some of the macro Mexican beers

Taste: A little bitterness at first that leads into a slight sweetness. There are no strong flavors either way but they are fairly balanced to make a good, not great, taste.

 400 characters

Photo of ToddT
2.27/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

A- Pale golden yellow with a one finger off white head. Head falls quickly to a ring and leaves very little lace on the glass.

S- Thin in aroma. Grain, adjuncts, malt, and a whiff of hops.

T- Thin in taste too. Minor hit of malt at first, slightly sweet followed by a dry finish. A little presence of hops at the end with a slight bitter twinge to the finish.

M- Thin almost watery, carbonation is good however.

D- Easy drinking but no real standout in any flavor profile. At 5.5% it could be a session beer if it had some flavor going for it.

Cool to try just to say you have had a beer from China, but nothing special and the Chinese are not really known for brewing world class beers, I'll take their food over this beer any day.

 738 characters

Photo of jwhawkins81
2.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

600 ml bottle

Aroma - Typical skunky lager aroma. No noticeable hop aromas.

Appearance - Clear yellow big white head but just a trickle of carbonation.

Taste - Watery with a dry finish. Not really any detectable hops but not overly sweet either.

Notes - The bottle came in a plastic cloth like cover that was nicely tied around the neck of the bottle and had Chinese writing on it. They should have invested more in the beer flavor and less about what the packaging looked like.

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Harbin Lager from Harbin Brewery Group
2.81 out of 5 based on 173 ratings.
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