My dear friend Jay recently moved to Hangzhou, China, a sub-province city and the capital of Zhejiang province of China. Located 112 miles southwest of Shanghai (the distance from Portland to Eugene, Oregon), Hangzhou and its surrounding region is home to about 6.5 million people with about 4 million living in the metropolitan area.
As one of the most livable and prosperous cities in China for a better part of the last 1,000 years, Hangzhou is also reknowned for its beautiful natural scenery, with the West Lake as perhaps the most well-known attraction.
Knowing my passion for beer and enjoying a proper pint himself, after settling in for a few weeks, Jay gave me a report on some of the beer available to him in the city where he was working as an English instructor.
In the picture above, the beer on the far right, is called Siwo, a local West Lake brewed beer from Hangzhou. Jay described it as “kind of like a session lager.” He also claimed that TsingTao, a light lager which is also available throughout the United Stated and Europe is “decent.” As far as the local offering, Siwo, he provided the following description:
“The Siwo brew is from Xihubeer Company. It has a very yellow color. A smooth pale when it goes down cold. Doesn’t have the tinny flavor you might expect. Very grass-like in taste. The ingredients listed are water, malt, rice, corn starch, hop. Not hops, hop. I don’t really believe that. You’d think I’d taste it. It is listed at 3.6% in volume.” He also mentioned that the beer’s marketing campaign in the area was “very similar to Budweiser.” As Jay gets settled and fixes up his living quarters he will send more information on the beer available in the area. Sounds like, after years of being spoiled by flavorsome microbrews in the Pacific Northwest, that the beer Jay has experienced aren’t really much to write home about, though I am glad he did.