Anyone know about foreign beer availability in China?

Discussion in 'Asia' started by ifnkovhg, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. ifnkovhg

    ifnkovhg Initiate (185) Aug 12, 2008 California

    Starting in July I'll be working in Guangzhou for three years, and I'm trepidatious about what will be available over there. It's not the kind of question I felt comfortable asking at the job interview. Will I be able to find a decent selection of American craft beers? What about higher end beers from the UK and Germany? Thanks!
  2. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (134) Feb 25, 2013 California

    probably lots of knock offs
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  3. Shanex

    Shanex Poo-Bah (1,503) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Moderator Society Trader

    Corona... sorry.
  4. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,877) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    With everything going on over there I give you lots of credit for going. I imagine they have some of the big boys like Bud and all. I am sure they have some decent local items, once you arrive just do some exploring and all.
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  5. sweetsimon

    sweetsimon Initiate (34) Oct 22, 2017 Louisiana

    I'm an American who lived and worked in China for over 10 years and specifically in Guangzhou from 2008 to 2013. I'm sure the situation has changed a bit since I was there, but during my time I remember the Guangzhou Friendship Store across from the Garden Hotel in Yuexiu District had a decent selection of foreign beers (ones you couldn't typically find elsewhere) such as Paulaner from Germany. There wasn't any American craft beer that I recall and no UK beers come to mind. Brands like Heineken, Carlsberg, Budweiser and Corona have a wide presence, and Chinese beer is cheap and plentiful (that's what I usually drank). Of the Chinese beers, usually the 纯生 versions ("chun sheng"... usually translated as "draft" but literally meaning "pure brew") are higher quality, though a few yuan more expensive. As I said though, things may have evolved since then, especially in a city with a large Western presence like Guangzhou--there are some expat areas around Guangzhou (perhaps in Yuexiu or Tianhe districts or Pearl River New Town) which may have more of what you're looking for. There used to be a website called which a lot of local Guangzhou expats were on which I was going to suggest joining so you could ask there, but it doesn't seem to be functioning currently--maybe it's been replaced by some similar forum on WeChat or something. Good luck, and 天天高兴! ("tian tian gao xing" -- happy happy every day!)
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  6. ifnkovhg

    ifnkovhg Initiate (185) Aug 12, 2008 California

    Thanks! That's very helpful!
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  7. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,518) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Can't really add much to the excellent information you received from @sweetsimon, but will just throw in a couple of observations. My wife and I just got back from a Viking tour trip to China in October, and this is what I observed:

    Tsingtao was widely available every place we went, along with a number of other local and regional beers. Most of what I saw and drank consisted of light AAL's otherwise, none of which were any better than Tsingtao I thought (many were quite a bit worse). As @sweetsimon mentioned, I saw plenty of Corona and Heineken pretty much every place we went as well.

    That being said, I do think there's reason for hope and optimism. The hotel we stayed at in Xian had it's own onsite brewpub, and the IPA we tried at the bar was fairly decent. The mall across the way was in the process of putting in a German beirgarten restaurant, and the beer menu was pretty impressive I thought (plenty of Paulaner, Spaten and Schneider offerings). The club bar attached to our hotel was having a Brooklyn Brewing night the week we were there, which I took to be a good sign. Prices were on the high side for the German and Brooklyn brewing stuff, but that should come as no surprise (wine prices and selection were similarly wanting in China, except in Hong Kong).

    Anyway, good luck!
    #7 John_M, Feb 12, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
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  8. sweetsimon

    sweetsimon Initiate (34) Oct 22, 2017 Louisiana

    Thanks for that insight @John_M! I'll throw in a few more comments. From your information plus scanning through some of the China-related posts in this Asia forum (such as the one titled "Hong Kong and China" several posts down from this one), it does seem like the beer scene has evolved in China to some extent in terms of brew pubs and foreign/craft beer availability since the time I left in 2013. I didn't see any Guangzhou-specific information while scanning through those posts @ifnkovhg, but I would expect Guangzhou to have a fair amount of that type of thing too if other places do. Bear in mind though as @John_M said that prices for foreign and craft beer will be significantly higher than for local beer. Also, the cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong are each only a 1-2 hour train ride away and will have plenty more to explore beer-scene-wise, and Hong Kong in particular will likely have a number of things you can't find in mainland China. Enjoy!

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