Even though the summer is winding down, there is still plenty of time left to crack open a cold one. But the question is, which cold one to crack open? While there are plenty of imported options available to quench your thirst and numerous craft brews, the imports come with a heavy tax and the craft beer comes with the craft tax, taking their prices well above what you’d pay for an equivalent local beer. So, if you’re looking for cold, refreshing, moderately alcoholic beers to carry you through an evening of barbeque al fresco, consider some of these local options.
01 Red Wolf 红狼
Red Wolf is a variant of Hans that is harder and harder to find these days, but still available at some local shops and barbeque joints. The taste of this is more full and rich than a typical Hans. These beers are easy to spot with their shiny red labels and dark brown glass, which better preserves the beer. Typically these will set you back a bit more than their dirt cheap counterpart, but still shouldn’t break more than 10RMB per bottle on average.
02 Wu Su 乌苏
Wusu is a beer from Xinjiang Province that has become very popular in recent years and is very easy to find around the city. Wusu beers are taller than averages, with a green bottle and red and silver label. They are also stronger than your average Chinese beer, and have been known to sneak up on the unsuspecting. The taste is light and malty, and at 620ml, you are getting more out of each bottle. Like Red Wolf, Wusu is slightly above the cheapest of the cheap, but typically still affordable.
03 Original Tsingtao 青岛啤酒
With inundations of too many variations, it can be hard to pick out the Original Tsingtao out of the huge number of variations offered by the company, but when you find it, it’s usually worth cracking open. The taste of Original Tsingtao is fairly hoppy for a lager, and is excellent alongside any meal, though you’ll be getting less on average for your money, as most bottles come in at 330ml, though you can occasionally find the 500ml bottles. Just whatever you do, avoid the ‘draft’. It tastes like nothing.
04 9˚ 9度
When it comes to local beers, nothing gets more local than 9˚, or as everyone knowns them jiudu. You will see these literally everywhere, from every barbeque stands to the hands of old shushus having an afternoon (or morning) tipple. These should be among the cheapest beers available, at 3RMB per bottle in the shop and 5-8RMB a bottle at most restaurants. When cold, these beers go down very easily, though it gets significantly harder as the beer warms up.
05 Hans 汉斯
Probably the most polarizing on this list, with Hans, people either love it or hate it. There is an added taste that comes from the grains used, which gives the faintest whiff of baijiu. Probably why it is so polarizing. Still, ganpi is a staple of the scene, and is similarly priced to 9˚, and is likewise available almost everywhere. Drink all 600ml cold, and don’t let it get to room temperature.