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Qingdao: The city that was built on beer

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-30 07:21

Qingdao: The city that was built on beer

Participants in a bikini contest learn about Chinese culture and crafts. Photos provided to China Daily

Bathing beauties

It's no coincidence that the bathing beauties are in town during the week of the Qingdao Beer Festival, now in its 24th year.

Qingdao: The city that was built on beer

Pole dance at Qingdao Beer Festival 

Qingdao: The city that was built on beer

An American made good in China with pub brewery 

Lin Xingyu, the director, chief consultant and primary designer of the event, has been here for each of the two dozen festivals. He's made such a study of the production that he's also a guest lecturer on the topic at both Peking University and Shanghai Normal University.

While beer is at the heart of the two-week extravaganza, this is no drunken frat party. Some college students naturally find their way to the nearby beaches with a bag of beer under each arm, but the festival season has grown with a variety of entertainments that gravitate to this time period: the bikini contest, a collegiate volleyball championship, a sailing week and two days of sailing competition with Olympic-style events. This summer the city is hosting the International Horticulture Expo, a big draw for families.

"Festivals are carriers of culture," Lin says, and many of the partygoers we meet in the streets say they're here for the performances more than the beer.

As we follow him through a museum on the grounds of "Beer City", the biggest festival venue, Lin waves proudly as we pass a wall of coasters, souvenir T-shirts and about a thousand other pieces of beeraphernalia.

"The first 10 years we had mostly domestic beers here," he says, "but as China's opening-up really got underway, we've had more foreign brands. That includes Carlsberg, the Danish beer giant with a huge presence in the country - in fact, it's brewed in China. There are also vendors here for beers including Maredsous (Belgian) Zwickl (Czech) and German brews Paulaner, Spaten and Erdinger.

"All big cities in China have some kind of festival," Lin notes, "but few have one based on something so indigenous, so tied to the city's identity. Most have to copy something from others." (Take that, Tianjin!)

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