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

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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

Where This All Began

Guangzhou street scene.

Men play Go on a Guangzhou street in 1992.

I first visited China on January 25, 1992. It was also my first time visiting a communist country. Even though the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone had been in existence for nearly 10 years, a sense of unease sat in the pit of my stomach as my train plodded through the Guangdong countryside en route to Guangzhou from Hong Kong. I suppose part of it was the butterflies one may get when venturing outside your comfort zone. The other part likely came from the staff’s uniforms which reminded me of the power officialdom can bring to bear on the perceived wrongdoer, agitator, criminal, or spy. I was going to Red China!
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