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Harbin Lager | Harbin Brewery Group

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Harbin LagerHarbin Lager
175 Ratings
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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Ratings: 175 |  Reviews: 123
Photo of TippySelenoid
2.76/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer was an impulse buy because of the sock that it came in.
It poured golden into a pint glass and had little to no head with minimal lacing.
The taste was very slight. It tasted like a Macro, which I think that it is.
The smell was also negligible.
The feel was medium carbonation.
This beer was drinkable not drainworthy.

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Photo of SetarconeX
3.21/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Basic clear golden lager color, perhaps a shade darker than some, and a decent froth. Sweetness and a bit of skunk on the nose, which I almost expect. God knows how long this thing took to get here from north China. Beneath that's the strange clove-like mustyness that you get on the big euro-lagers. Actually reminds me a bit of Peroni on the nose.

Tastes almost exactly like it smells, only sweeter. The hops are there, but seem to almost impart an herbal tone instead of bitterness, which just blends in with the malt.

A really easy to drink beer, if not a great one. I actually rather like it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.18/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

18-karat gold with lemonade edges. The large cap is a shade or two darker than brightest white and is dense enough to last for more than a few minutes after the pour. A little watery lace sticks initially, but doesn't last. Keeping in mind the fact that the competition isn't exactly world-class, this is one of the better looking Chinese beers that I've seen.

The nose is a dead ringer for a Euro pale lager; never might that Harbin is a Sino pale lager. There's no malt contribution that I can detect. The only aroma emanating from the glass is the typical musky, musty, semi-skunky hoppiness that one can find on a thousand and one lagers from Eastern Europe.

This isn't terrible beer. In fact, it's pretty okay beer. The straightforward, no-frills flavor profile is dominated by untoasted barley and more noble hops than expected. Their grassy, lightly spicy flavor and their surprising bitterness is keeping me drinking. I don't have a preferred EPL blueprint (I don't care enough about the style to think in those terms), but the dry, crisp finish of Harbin is appealing to me at the moment.

The mouthfeel is probably a shade lighter than the style average, even as the carbonation is more spirited. All those bubbles keep mouth interest on the high side without stepping over the line into fizziness. Although this may not be great beer, it isn't lackluster, boring beer either.

I had no idea what to expect from Harbin Lager. What I got was the best Chinese beer I've ever had. I assume that 'affiliated with Anheuser-Busch' means the boys from St. Louis made sure the brewing standards were up to snuff. If so, it definitely shows in the final product.

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Photo of Roderick
3.11/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

First off this is my first beer brewer in China
This poured a bright yellow with a great big white head "pretty".
The smell of hops hit first followed by a kind of Heineken skunk.
Taste is very much like a run of the mill lager with a thin hops taste & a touch of bitterness.
Certainly not a great beer but it was ok and I would drink another.
Price: $2.49 for a 16oz bottle at Liquor Barn Hurstbourne

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.97/5  rDev +41.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Harbin pours a golden body with yellow highlights beneath a creamy head of bright white. The retention is fairly good, and it leaves some nice strings and splashes of lace behind.

The nose expresses softly sweet and grainy malt alongside a gently herbal and lightly floral hoppiness.

In the mouth it's crisp with a median, fine-bubbled carbonation; and medium-light bodied with a bit of a dextrinous edge.

The flavor follows the aroma, and it's very nicely balanced with an initial malty sweetness that's immediately pounced on by herbal hops and a solid bitterness. The hops blend with the grainy malt across the middle and into the finish, and the bitterness rises at the swallow, leaving it dry despite some residual malt. Herbal and spicy hops enjoy a fleeting moment or two in the lingering finish.

Really well-made. Superbly balanced. Quite nice.

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Photo of bditty187
3.12/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, pale-gold in hue; I hate this color of beer. White foam, at the apex the head was a half finger tall. The bubbles rapidly faded to a thin collar, naked in the middle. No lace. Boring appearance, you’ve seen this beer before.

Faint graininess; yeasty, lemon bread start the nose. No hops, no skunk. Moderate potency, not very chatty… in other words, it doesn’t say much. I found it inoffensive but not inviting. Meh. For what this beer is I can’t complain much.

Clean palate, lightly grainy with lemon bread flavors, bland white bread notes. Clean. Clean. Clean. No apparent hop flavors or bitterness. Lightly malty + lightly hop = a balanced beer! Wow zero plus zero does equal zero! Crisp finish, clean… pleasant (I guess). There isn’t much to this beer. No skunkiness (Neat!). If there are adjuncts used it must be minimal or really well brewed. Not bad… all in all (for what it is).

About medium in body, low but natural carbonation, the mouthfeel is just as plain as every other aspect. However, the mouthfeel fits this beer very well.

Harbin is a respectable beer. If I was faced with a poor beer selection at a Chinese restaurant I would order this over BMC, Heineken, or most other Asian lagers. I would never consider buying a six-pack of this beer even though every damn grocery store carries it. Thank you AB! I purchased a snazzy 600ml “Chinese New Year” bottle with rice paper covering. I couldn’t say no. Maybe it was going to be good? And, in some ways, it is. I’ll finish my bottle. It is worth a try in a pinch. Not that bad.

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Photo of BEERchitect
2.31/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Well, it came in a pretty little sake'-like bottle. At least that was my justification for buying the beer. Afterwhich, I realized that this was not a good beer. Green bottle Euro-type beers almost always promise disaster. The offset of aromas give a tom-catty aroma; pungent and musky; nearly skunked. The look is a near-fizzy carbonation, disapointing retention, but hey; it has a clear straw color. The taste was of grain, rice, and malt. Very sweet, similar to raw corn sugar. Very little complexity or variety. The feel is a slick coating of the mouth. Finishes with a mild hop flavor, earthiness, and pronounced sweetness. The beer was just not that good.

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Photo of Greenfloyd
2.68/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Though the pakaging is fantastic, this is what I assume to be the Chinese version of Macro. This "Euro Pale Lager" pours a lighter apple juice with a quickly fading perfectly white foamy head. Smelled a bit skunky, common for me when comparing the nose's on a lot of European Lagers. Taste was fairly clean, though there was subtle skunky bitterness that thankfully didn't translate into the finish. This light bodied lager would indeed pair well with spicy Chinese fair though, lending it's thirst quenching abilities when you need it most....Enjoy

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Photo of Vancer
3.21/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Well, the pour started out on a promising note: bright straw yellow, nice white heading that even laced a bit.

The whiff of euro skunk lead into a sharp bite of hop, this had a decent taste of malt and hop. Surprised me, and I would say a full sixer of these would not be a bad afternoon. More of a lawnmower brew – but at $7 a sixer that is a little pricey. And the bottles were only 11.2 ounce. Also, no dating, so I’m not confident how fresh this may be.

 462 characters

Photo of Hefe
3.08/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright gold, with the slightest hint of red, pillowy head that eventually fades to the slightest bit of lacing. Aroma is a little sweet with fruity malty tones and the slight nip of a floral hop aroma. Taste is much like the nose, with maybe a little more hop presence. Carbonation is soft, and pehaps a little lacking, a little more pop would do this beer good. All in all not unpleasant and I wouldn't say no if given one, but...

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Photo of Morris729
2.87/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle is notable as it came wrapped in an unusual silky paper sleeve. Pours a light golden amber color with a bright white head. Nose is probably the highlight of the beer with notes of piney hops and perfume. The carbonation is nice but the beer is too thin—it comes across like watered down champagne. Taste is watered down grain and a bit of grassy hops. Might be acceptable on a hot day, but that’s about it.

 415 characters

Photo of beerphan
2.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle -> imperial pint

Pours a clear straw yellowcr with a large fluffy white head. The initial intense carbonation gives way to a slow steady stream of tiny bubbles.

Nose: Minimal grain scent, oh boy this does not smell good.

The taste is thin and quick. A slight maltiness quickly is gone and you feel like you just sipped a little water with a funny taste. There just isn't much here.

Mouthfeel is crisp and thin.

Another sample from my AB buddy. This one is just like drinking a good old IC light. That said, its not horrible, so if you out in an exclusive Chinese restaurant and it all they got, then give it a swill.

 662 characters

Photo of Hibernator
3.13/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Harbin Lager
20.3 oz green bottle
Served in a pilsner glass

The packaging of this beer immediately caught my eye as I noticed it on the shelves. This beer is decorated in a thin, paper exterior with a golden bow on top. Chinese writing and symbols accentuate the wrapping.

Pours a golden honey yellow color with a rocky white head on top. Little bubbles appear in the mini lacings on the side of the glassware.

The nose is light. Some faint whiffs of grains.

Light toasted grains and corn come through on the profile with a tad of sweetness. Rather smooth and drinkable. Maybe bland and uninteresting, but somewhat refreshing too. In many respects, I think this beer is true to the style and it lacks that awful skunk kick associated with most Euro-lagers. Worth trying for novelty sake, but not recommended.

 838 characters

Photo of eb003
4.2/5  rDev +50%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks like I'm rating this one a bit higher than the others that reviewed it. I really enjoyed this beer. It's a nice, light, and refreshing lager. There could have been more lacing of the glass, but overall I think the appearance was good. The smell is typical of most lagers. I thought the mouthfeel was also good and light. I found the taste to be very good. It has a better flavor than other Oriental Lagers and really left little aftertaste.

I rate this pretty high on drinkability because I truly enjoyed this one.

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Photo of UnionMade
2.76/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brilliantly clear honey, topped with a big, puffy white head. I wish the head hung around a bit longer, but it was impressive at the start. Fairly inoffensive aroma, with soapy, dank, skunky hops in that Heineken way. Some corny notes, with crispy pils malt. The flavor is altogether mild, reminding me of a Bud clone. Funny, as I'd drank half of this before sitting down to type a review, and saw they were affiliated with AB. Mild, semi-watery malt fading off into a lightly hopped, floral/soapy finish. Some mineral water notes, leaving off very dry and vacant. There is a nice crispness to the carbonation, and the body is light and easy. It basically tastes like Bud with much fancier packaging. On closer inspection, i even see they have the horse-drawn beer cart above the brand name. The packaging's really what grabbed me. Amazing how appearance will sway the consumer, even an educated one, huh? I didn't dislike this one, but it doesn't bring anything to the table in terms of flavor. You never know. It could have been great. Stranger things have happened when I pop open unfamiliar beers. I'd rather have a Tsingtao if I'm going the chinese route.

 1,160 characters

Photo of Zorro
2.68/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Well it certainly comes in a fancy enough bottle. But it also cost $2.69. I am going to guess this isn't the best lager ever made.

This is a clear yellow colored beer with a momentary decent white head. It is a shade darker than Coors in the glass.

Smell is slightly sweet with a slightly soapy hop aroma. Not much more that I can say about this, it smells like mostly nothing more than Budweiser.

Taste is slightly sweet with a decent hop bitterness to it. This tastes better than it smells. Pretty much just a clean lager flavor with a decent hop level and that is about it.

Mouthfeel is OK.

OK drinkable and a notch above the usual microbrewery lagers but that doesn't really make this a great beer. I can't see buying this again; I would buy Pabst Blue Ribbon first.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.36/5  rDev +20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brilliant gem-like white gold. Tall crunchy capping of stark white foam that dissolves quickly to an ever present foamy collar and a steady slow stream of bubbles within the gold. Minimal to no lace however.

Aroma is bland and nearly non existant with a soft sweetened haze of starch and old white bread.

Taste is lightly sweet with a starchy, run-of-the-mill, lager flavor. Slight breadyness and a tiny lift of dull citrus makes for the rest as it does coat the palate with a clean, semi cloying malt that actually lasts long enough for it to matter some.

Feel is respectfully clean and rounded off in a small malt tone within a lighter, mediumish body.

A drinkable lager, yes, perhaps a bit boring, but could easily have a few when in the mood for a simple lager in the slower summer months.

 805 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
2.41/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: Anyone who has ever worked with, and received those small gifts/presents from, Japanese companies will nod doubt see a similarity between those and the decorative packaging of this China brew. For a start the bottle itself is sleeved in a tight fitting paper sleeve, this is secured with a gold colored thread which is tied off. The 600ml green glass bottle is sealed with a dark green crown cap and metallic foil on the neck. The main label is also dark green and has a pale yellow oval with lots of metallic gold designs and text. Listed as “China’s Treasured Lager Harbin Lager” with some Chinese text filling in the main band across the label.

Appearance: For all the fancy-schmancy packaging the beer in the glass looks very ordinary, as I expected. A pale straw body pours out with a massive frothy white head which adds some neat looking lacing. This is your typical looking lager affair, but the longevity of the head and the average carbonation at least lend it a decent overall look.

Nose: Nothing much in the nasal arena. Some light grain malts and a very feint bitterness, but the strength is so low that it is hard to determine exactly what makes up the nose here. Despite its weak strength, the nose is nothing out of line, and it does seem clean at least.

Taste: Middling lager style flavors. Again this is just as low in the tastes as it is in the nose. Gentle sweetness in the finish, light grain and some citric sharpness in the finish all do enough to remind you that this is not water, but it never seems to stamp authority in any flavor area. As with the nose it is clean and unfettered, but rather boring.

Mouthfeel: Clean lines and decent carbonation are a plus but that is it. Nothing here really adds to the body and the clean lines are reflected in the thin feel. Very wanting in the Mouthfeel for sure.

Drinkability: I’m sure this is fine very clean thirst quenching brew on a hot day, but the day has been cool here in Long Beach and this just doesn’t do anything at all for me. Forgetful.

Overall: This was a cheap pick-up during a recent trip down to HiTimes in Costa Mesa. A brew from China, all delivered is some fancy looking packaging. Something different, but nothing exciting.

 2,251 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.19/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this a Thai joint before dinner;

Pours golden, efferervescent and with a 1" white head. Minimal lacing & no head retention

S: Sweet perfumy nose & a hint of honey. Finishes dry with hints of

T: Sweet up front. then a little maltyness & a hint of rice dryness. Finishes dry with a little sweetness & fruittyness

MF: Light bodied & softly carbonated, skews a little thin

Drinks okay, nothing special, but better than BMC

 438 characters

Photo of geexploitation
2.3/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a yellow apple juice color with a virtually no head. Corny smell hits first off, then slightly sweet malts and an ever so slight dustiness that I'm assuming is some hops. On the palate, bland and a bit sweet, with little in the way of hop bitterness (on a bit comes in at the end). The end finishes with sweet dried corn. Thin mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Overall, not an appetizing beer, and not even really drinkable given that sickly corn smell/flavor.

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Photo of Injemanze
2.85/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Ranked right below Tsingtao and probably the second best of the light Chinese lagers (not saying much)

Appearance – pours a decent amberish-yellow. A quick pour produce moderate head that disappears quickly.

Smell – water, malt, and something else I cannot quite hit

Taste – Very mild bitter hops, sickly sweet with hints of grass and malt

Drinkability – Okay, but as it is twice the price of a Tsingtao where I live, I can't find a reason to order a second bottle

 480 characters

Photo of Reidrover
2.41/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Actually very nice presentation ( if a little odd with it being wrapped in some fancy clean room hair net thing with a gold bow), and the bottle/label is very cool. 600ml Dark green bottle. Reasonably nice looking lager, deeper yellow than usual with a nice sized bubbly pure white head. Aroma ..ohhhh well, I will leave it at the "hairnet" did not stop this beer from getting skunked bad, only other aroma i pick up is a graininess .\taste while nothing special is better than the aroma, just plain lager here, some fruitiness and a touch of grassy hop. Rather watery palate. After all the money and thought they put into the packaging, i would have liked at least some effort put into the beer. Not horrible but far from good.

 728 characters

Photo of kimcgolf
2.68/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

If you took the label off this and served it, I would swear it is Tsingtao. Apparently, this light colored, light bodied lager, with little taste or aroma, is a Chinese staple. Not much more to say about this, other than that if I have it again, I’ll make sure I do so with Chinese food instead of a stand alone. Obviously, A-B is trying to tap into the enormous Chinese populace with this purchase.

 400 characters

Photo of goschool
2.56/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I just occurred to me that Habrin, and apparently A-B, might not have been trying to lure stupid macro drinkers to buy a tissue paper wrapped bottle of China's treasured lager, new to the United States. Maybe they were being sneakier and trying to get stupid craft beer drinkers like myself to become so intrigued with the absurdity of it all that we purchase their product.

The pour is gold with a large fluffy head. The aroma and taste have mild saaz-y hops and practically nothing else. There no offensive adjuncts. I don't see how this light, flavorless brew can reflex the tradition and culture of China's most northern province of Heilongjang. I'm not an expert on the culture of Heilongjang, but still...

 715 characters

Photo of atigerlife
2.31/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 600ml bottle. The bottle is attractive and it comes wrapped in a decorative sleeve with chinese characters and tied with a golden cord [sleeve not shown in the photo I took]. Nice packaging. This beer only became available in the US last month [February 2006] in Hawaii & LA. It is imported by Anheauser-Busch.

Poured a large fluffy white head. Sparse carbonation can be seen rising. A rather light golden color. So far, the packaging and the look are quite nice. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there....

The smell was faint hops. Not a lot going on. The taste was very light hops. Very mild. Really, not a lot of flavor. Very non-descript.

The mouthfeel was very light. No cleansing. Was somewhat "slippery" feeling. Not good. Overall, this beer looks nice in the bottle and in the glass, but there is not much going on after that. Nothing offensive, but no character.

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Harbin Lager from Harbin Brewery Group
Beer rating: 2.8 out of 5 with 175 ratings
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