29 June 2010

Tsingtao "Beer" Town

Qingdao is better known throughout the world as Tsingtao due to the beer brand. I had high hopes for the place. So far in China, the beer had been downright disappointing, homogenous and weak. Ever though I’d been drinking weak Tsingtao beer in other parts of China, I had been told that it was beer in the town where it was brewed, as there is a better selection of their range.

It proved to be pretty much untrue. I had one can of their stout, which admittedly was strong, but was not particularly palatable. Their Gold brand, was slightly better, but barely worth the extra cash it costs. We went to the brewery for the tour, which proved to be a rip-off, as you only got a couple of tiny glasses of their beer for the pricey entrance fee. The only bright spot was that one of them was an unfiltered version of their beer which was certainly the best Chinese beer had yet to offer, but was practically impossible to buy outside the brewery.

The worst thing was, though, that the locals were (understandably) proud of their town's beer due to the international recognition it beings. But they kept asking/telling me how great their beer was. "Tsingtao; best beer in China?" (Not hard to be) "This is better that your beer at home?" (Yeah, but assuming you mean Asda own brand beer)

The other thing the town is famous for is being a beach town. Before I got there, I pictured myself drinking a few cold ones on the beach, heading into the water to cool down regularly. There was need for cooling down, the three days we were there proved to be constantly overcast. Our hostel was up on a hill that was close to the coast, and from the rooftop bar, where I spent quite a bit of time, I only seen the sea once, briefly.

The hostel, on the other hand, was top-notch. It was based in an old observatory. Each evening, you could drink as much as you liked for about £2 from 6:30 until 11:30 from a keg they put out on the balcony. They projected the world cup games onto the outside of one of the observatory domes (we have a picture, but still can’t post them on this within China).

There wasn’t much to stay for, but it was damn near impossible to get trains out of the place, as it was a public holiday period (dragon boat festival apparently). Trains in China are packed at the best of times, but during holidays quite often it can be standing-room only. One Chinese lady we met at the hostel had stood for 10 hours on a train to get to Qingdao.

Eventually, after trying numerous permutations, we got a hard seat for the 14 hour trip on to Nanjing. How I missed Russia, and their relaxed attitude to getting tickets which meant that booking a day in advance never caused us problems. It would leave at 14:00 and arrive at 04:00 the next day. I was really looking forward to it...


Niall said...

And I thought Tsingtao was pretty good ber, although all the rest were really bad!

Does white man not pay a bit extra and get whatever the hell he wants!?

King prawn said...

'I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.' -Homer Simpson.

You should explain to them that they cant really call themselves a real country with only one decent beer to there name!! Having a football team, or some nuclear weapons helps, but only one decent beer, C'mon!!!
I checked my diary for entry's on Beer when I was in China and I dedicated about page to a beer called 'Blue Ribbon Beer' so it must have been good. Not sure if that was the name of it or the brewer's name.
Anyway hope your asses have recovered after your 14 hour, hard seat train journey, which sounded nice;) xx

Unknown said...

You thought wrong young nosher. Tsingtao is crap, as are most far eastern, oriental beers I've had. Very watery. These spots are not the home of beer. They should stick to the curries and let the Europeans get on with it. Americans should forget about it too, high in the Rocky Mountains is for big grizzlies, not beers, and fizzy Molsten in Canada, stick to assimilation and melting pots, no thank you kind sir.

I'd stick to the old Blue Ribband biscuits instead of beer King Prawn if it was a far Eastern brew.

You're back to some of my favourite detail SOK. The important stuff. Can't get into the Great Wall, Red Square and all that, but drinkng as much as you like for £2 on a balcony of an observatory, now you're talking, and sucking diesel by the sound of things.

Back to some of my favourite detail SOK

Anonymous said...

I had been arguing with my close friend on this issue for quite a while, base on your ideas prove that I am right, let me show him your webpage then I am sure it must make him buy me a drink, lol, thanks.

- Kris