Rising beer intake, which has been the norm in China for a number of years now, has just passed a milestone with the release of new data from Euromoniter International that pegs homegrown Chinese brews at the top as the most consumed globally, with Snow and Tsingtao taking the number one and number two spots. Bud Light is a distant third with only half the annual consumption as Snow (don’t worry Americans, you still drink more per person). Yanjing and Harbin, the two other Chinese beers on the list, were in the number six and number eight spot respectively.
Bloomberg Media traces a correlation between a rising GDP and a rising beer intake (as can be seen in the chart below). And certainly one must consider the population factor: the country with the most people ought to be drinking the most beer. But, some evidence indicates that there is an increasing interest in beer on a more intellectual level – that China may just be on the verge of a beer renaissance.
The greatest criticism hurled at the four Chinese beers that top the global charts have to do with low flavor and low alcohol content (as can be attested here). Curing these ills is an increase in variety. In the big cities certainly, foreign beer importation has been on the upswing for some years now. Here in Beijing one would not be hard pressed to find the finer among European and American brands, granted if you don’t mind spending a few more RMB on your poison.
More excitingly, there is a rise in homegrown craft breweries (admittedly they are often the handiwork of foreigners), of a similar sort to those dotting the North American landmass for the last two decades. Great Leap Brewery and Slow Boat Brewery are two fine examples of this trend. It is yet to be seen what long-term effects these small businesses will have on the largest beer market in the world.