China / Society

Thousands expected at Beijing craft beer festival

By Eric Jou ( Updated: 2014-06-06 16:59

Thousands of beer connoisseurs are expected to descend upon Beijing's Galaxy Soho this weekend for the third annual Beijing Craft Brewing festival.

There will be beer, food and entertainment, said Beijing brew master Carl Setzer. Setzer, who is the founder and brew master of Beijing's craft beer brewery, Great Leap Brewing, is also the organizer of the Bejing Craft Beer Festival.

Craft beer is a different designation from regular beer and usually refers to the product of breweries that make smaller amounts and are mostly owned and operated by a brewer and not a beverage company.

The Beijing Craft Beer Festival will feature 11 such brewers from all over the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Local Beijing food vendors will be on hand to help drinkers sop up the ales. Even Beijing's worst-kept secret, the Taco Bar, will be making a pop-up appearance as a vendor.

The Craft Beer Festival has won local awards in Beijing for being the Party of the Year. In it's first incarnation, the festival drew about 700 people. Setzer said that the second year, after expanding the festival to two days, they were able to draw more than 7,000 people.

"From the Great Leap brewing side, we look at it as an opportunity to show the consumer all the variety and the advancements Chinese craft beer has made year after year," Setzer said. "To be able to go from four breweries to six breweries to 11 breweries in three years shows that the interest in the market is growing and the participation of professional breweries shows that the market is sound."

Setzer said hosting the festival doesn't really benefit Great Leap individually, but that the goal is to help shine light on the beer-making community.

"It was a lot of fun (last year)," said Alex Acker, co-founder of the Jing A brewing company in Beijing. "It was really exciting to be part of the festival last year and be part of bringing great locally crafted beer to the people of Beijing."

Acker said the festival is great as it gives exposure to smaller beer makers.

"I think the Beijing Craft Beer festival is a great chance for people in Beijing, both foreigners and local Beijingers, to come out and try all this great locally brewed craft beer, that's not just beer brewed in Beijing but also from Shanghai, Chengdu and all the way from Yunnan," Acker said. "It's great for exposure for all, and it's a great chance for some of the people who don't come out to the taprooms and restaurants to try all this great beer in one location."

Beijing-based mental health professional Aram Sohigian said the quality of the beer at the festival is as good as any he has tasted.

Originally from the United States, Sohigian moved to Beijing last year, and joined the festivities at the second Craft Beer Festival.

"The event was great, there were lots of different types of beer, great food and good music," Sohigian said. "It was a bit like being at home in San Francisco."

Sohigian said despite having tried most of the breweries that will feature this year, he's still very eager to attend the festival. He's looking forward to consuming pints from Jing A and Great Leap and also in trying the beer from Taiwan.

Beijing Craft Beer Festival

Admission: Free: beer and food separate – prices may vary

Time: 5pm to 11pm, June 6

11am – 11pm, June 7

Location: Galaxy Soho, 7 Xiaopaifang Hutong, Dongcheng district, Beijing

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