Craft Beer Market in Mainland
Chinese has a long history of drinking while the word alcohol has been mentioned in "the book of odes and hymns" over twenty times and other classics as well. Most people in ancient times drink rice wine and yellow wine, but today Chinese drink a wide range of alcohol and often drink accompany with meal. In contrary, the foreigners like to drink neat in the bar especially beer. In the Mainland, the potential of craft beer is huge particularly in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and other first-tier cities. There is still room for further development. In my opinion, craft beer is going to be more prevalent than wine does. Here are some of my suggested reasons:
Wine culture has always been associated with the gift culture. People who are keen on tasting is only minority. Over the years wine education has been well developed in the Mainland, but the purpose of learning is often for social life.
Chinese people like to “Gan Bei”, but wine needs to be tasted slowly, and some wines take extra time for decanting and evolving. This is not the way Chinese drink. They like to drink unrestrained.
In Mainland (Hong Kong as well), people know little of craft beer. What is craft beer? What are the differences between craft beer and commercial beer? What are the characteristics of different beer styles? All of them are the topics people need to be educated. In the viewpoint of sales, there is a lot of challenges ahead. Commercial beers are cheap and uncareful, while craft beer are delicate. As for other fermented beverage like wine and sake, they are vulnerable to heat and light, and great care has to be taken in transportation. In a big country like China, it is not easy to build up a system. There are numerous problems in the market but lack a communication network between the manufacturers, suppliers, importers and distributors. The competition between producers is therefore far from fair and consumers would never get a guaranteed product. The chaos in the market is actually going uncontrollable - rotten wines, fraudulent wines, wines with forged label, wines bottled in China, etc.
In contrast, craft beer is growing fast in Mainland. The quality is making continuous progress. As in the United States, there are regional brands in every province. Various styles exist in the market - American IPA, English IPA, Belgian IPA, Italian Grape Ale. Consider their quality, quantity and uniqueness, why can’t we create a Chinese-style beer? Being the pioneers ahead of Mainland, we shall share our experience with them. Don’t just look at the immediate interests, but the future of the whole industry.
反觀國內釀造的手工啤酒品牌與日俱增，質素也不斷進步，這股勢力絶對不容忽視，就如美國一樣，不同省分有不同代表，有不同的本土啤酒，百花齊放！而且當質量、產量、獨特性達至高水平更可作出口，推銷到海外，有American IPA，有English IPA，有Belgian IPA，有Italian Grape Ale，為何不能有一款中國風格的啤酒？而香港在亞洲可算是手工啤酒這股熱潮的先驅之一，也可以將經驗和國內同胞分享，打造領導的地位，希望大家不要只看眼前利益，而要為整個行業的大放向著想。