About Great Hop Forward

My name is Rick Green. I am a Canadian writer with a passion for travel, craft beer, and gastronomy. With my Great Hop Forward project, I am currently focused on combining those interests in China. My first e-book, "How to Drink Beer in Mandarin" is now available on Amazon.com and through Smashwords.com. My beer writing has also appeared in "Northwest Brewing News", "TAPS Magazine", "The Georgia Straight", "Edible Vancouver", "What’s Brewing", and "Urban Diner". While living in Hong Kong, I wrote four multimedia travel guides and helped publish three other CD-ROM titles. I have also written about my Asian travel experiences at Adventurocity.com. I am a member of the British Columbia Association of Travel Writers, the North American Guild of Beer Writers, and the Society of Beer Travelers.

TAPS and Parallel 49 Create First China-Canada Collaboration

In craft beer’s never-ending quest to create something new and different, collaboration beers began as an expression of friendship and mutual respect between two or more brewers. For example, when I learned that the brewhouse from DIX BBQ & Brewery in Vancouver had been bought by the owners of Brassneck Brewery, I proposed to their brewer/co-owner, Conrad Gmoser, that he, Derrick Franche, and Tony Dewald do a brew together on the system they had each used.

So was born the Spirit of DIXmas Past IPA, a bold West Coast IPA that DIX was legendary for. Today, it is brewed at an annual gathering of the three brewers at Brassneck, timed to come out just before the Christmas holidays. Its release at Brassneck spawns an impromptu reunion of DIXheads, the hophead regulars who held their own New Orleans-style funeral wake when the Mark James Group brewpub closed.

These days, collaborations – like brewmasters dinners and tap takeovers – have become rather everyday. To make a statement, you need to come up with a unique angle, such as the Red Racer Across the Nation Collaboration for Canada’s 150th anniversary. This was a 12-pack of collaborations Central City’s brewer, Gary Lohin, made with one brewer from each province and territory in the country, which I shared at the China Craft Brewers Conference Industry Night in Shanghai in May. Continue reading

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The Dragon and the Beaver: Comparing Craft Beer in China and Canada

The emergence of craft beer is, foremost, a reaction against the excessive dominance of mass-market lager. If one believes a state of harmony is achieved with the mean, then this is but a natural reaction to restore balance with a greater degree of diversity.

While local conditions and histories differ, this only affects the characteristics and pace of change, not the fact that the appeal of craft beer is growing around the world. We can see from examples in Canada and China, the similarities in how the development of craft beer not only transforms the business of brewing but also the culture of drinking. Continue reading

CBCE Set to Become China’s Premier Craft Beer Market Place

As China’s craft beer industry grows, the challenges affecting its development become increasingly apparent. Some craft breweries may be able to overcome several of these roadblocks individually, however, many are best addressed collectively.

Attending this year’s Craft Beer China Exhibition & Conference from May 17-19 in Shanghai, the excitement of China’s craft beer industry coming together was palpable. Demonstrating the outside interest in China’s craft beer market, Bob Pease, President & CEO of the US Brewers Association, set the tone for CBCE 2017 with his keynote address, “Craft Brewers: Sustaining Excellence and Growth”. Continue reading

Cathay Pacific Launches High-Flying Craft Beer

On February 21, Cathay Pacific released Betsy Beer, a 5.1% ABV, 20 IBU craft brew specially created by Hong Kong Beer Co. for the airline cabin environment at 35,000′. With the launch targeted at Cathay’s Hong Kong to United Kingdom routes, the beer was designed to include elements of both locales. Longan (dragon eye) fruit and honey from the Wing Wo Bee Honey Farm in Shatin were added to represent Hong Kong. Fuggle hops grown in Kent, England, were chosen to characterize the destination. Rounding out the recipe is 60% wheat malt, 40% Pilsener malt, and a lager yeast.

Cathay Pacific’s ad agency, McCann Worldgroup Hong Kong, first approached the airline last year with the concept of creating a beer designed to enhance the in-flight experience. Once McCann’s Cathay Pacific Central Team finalized the concept, Cathay & McCann then approached Hong Kong Beer Co. to develop the brew. They were chosen based on their reputation and pioneering role in Hong Kong’s craft beer industry. McCann’s Julian Egli had previously worked for Liquid Assets, Hong Kong Beer Co’s former distributor, so was also familiar with their products. Continue reading

Hong Kong’s Largest Craft Beer Celebration

Beertopia 2016 PosterAsia’s first craft brewery launched in Hong Kong in 1995 when I happened to be living there. Fast forward to 2012, the city still had only one craft brewery, despite the efforts of some enterprising individuals who saw the potential. Fortunately, when Canadian, Jonathan So, discovered the lack of craft beer events and a general apathy towards beer in Hong Kong, he decided to do something about it. He started the Beertopia festival.

When embarking on a venture, you never really know what will happen. Changing culture can be a long, drawn out process or it may happen overnight. Are people ready for it? Is what you’re offering attractive? Are you engaging people with the right messaging? Can what you’ve created be scaled up and leveraged to carry the change forward? Continue reading

The Challenges for China’s Craft Beer Revolution

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Xian Brewing brewer, Jon Therrian, adds malt to his brew kettle.

As in North America, the craft beer phenomenon in China is not a fad. it’s a cultural transformation being driven by a generational shift in the consumer market. With the growing influence of urban Millennials in the marketplace, their needs and preferences are increasingly driving trends.

Craft beer is an aspirational lifestyle product that is attractive to China’s new middle class. It’s an “affordable luxury”, as Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing is fond of saying. Although craft beer lacks the status of wine or Scotch whisky, its appreciation requires all the sophistication of wine tasting but at a fraction of the cost.

Product novelty is important to Millennials. Therefore, drinking a generic light lager designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator holds little interest. Small-batch brewing, on the other hand, embraces continual product innovation. You might say, then, that macro beer is a gastronomic cul-de-sac, craft beer an adventure. Continue reading

An Unexpected Turn

How to Drink Beer in Mandarin book cover.When I started planning the writing of The Great Hop Forward, I read that a successful Kickstarter campaign results from an audience built ahead of time. Therefore, the first thing I did was set up a Twitter account to do just that.

I like Twitter because I find it more conducive to establishing relationships than Facebook. I also like how Twitter allows you to create lists of those you follow in order to segment different audiences, communities, and information sources. And when you find suitable people or organizations to establish a relationship with, their followers are likely to be of interest to you, too, saving time hunting around for more followers.

To interest people in following you, you need to offer them something of value. My value proposition is to be the best information source in English for craft beer developments in China. I also want to encourage people to travel to China to experience the excitement of its economic and social transformation – craft beer being an interesting microcosm of that change. Continue reading