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Sudsy success

By Valerie Osipov | China Daily | Updated: 2015-07-07 08:13

Sudsy success

Brewmasters Kristian Li (left) and Alex Acker, who run Jing-A Taproom in Beijing, have a shared love of craft beer.[Photo by Hannah Adamson/China Daily] 

The room has the rustic look of a warehouse, with its wooden tables, brick walls, industrial metal chairs and a polished, modern bar. Warm, yellow bulbs hang on black wires, creating a nice contrast between softness and a bit of edge. A hand-painted beer menu hanging on the wall adds a collage of color, while a flashy sign reading "BEER" lights up a back corner.

It's quiet now, but come opening time, the Jing-A Taproom will echo with the chatter of foreigners and Chinese amidst the clinks and clanks of beer glasses.

Since it opened its doors late last year in 1949 The Hidden City compound in Beijing's buzzing Sanlitun area, the restaurant and bar has made quite a name for itself. The creative duo behind the operation, Canadian Kristian Li and American Alex Acker, are two guys living the dream and not taking anything too seriously. They've been brewing up a storm for three years but their friendship spans over a decade.

"Want a beer?" Li asks as I sit down.

It's 11 am on a Wednesday. We're getting comfortable. 

The two came to Beijing in 2000 separately through university programs and met each other in their first year. As their temporary positions expired, they found themselves charmed by Beijing and decided to stick around for the long run. Li and Acker soon discovered they had a shared love of craft beer and began to experiment with home brewing.

"Craft beer for us was definitely something we were passionate about. Obviously we started as consumers of beer," Li says. "We started to separately explore different types of beers that were out there and building a flavor palette for what we like."

"Yeah, we were very good at drinking beer," Acker adds laughing.

From that point on, Li and Acker led a double-life, working corporate jobs during the day and moonlighting as beer brewers at night. After receiving rave reviews from friends, they left their jobs to pursue brewing full time.

They acquired a beer-mobile dubbed the Keg Egg, now well-recognized by the surrounding community and local businesses.

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