Sunday, March 2, 2014

Zhuhai Gets a Little Crafty

Hong Kong was not the only place I have had a positive beer-related experience in Southeast China. One day late last year in in nearby Zhuhai, Guangdong province, I went to a Carrefour, a French hypermarket chain, and saw this in the imported foods section:

wide variety of foreign beers at a Carrefour in Zhuhai, China

Although Zhuhai has an October Beer Street Festival, finding American craft beers from brewers such as North Coast Brewing, Rogue Ales, and Saranac was shocking and a stark difference from anything else I had seen in Zhuhai or any other comparable Chinese city.

I wasn't planning to remain in Zhuhai much longer, so I didn't want to buy too much from the imported foods section. But that didn't stop me from leaving Carrefour with a few select difficult-to-find-in-Zhuhai essentials.

Red Seal Ale, Saranac White IPA, Nature Valley granola bars, 80% dark chocolate, and a bottle of carbonated San Benedetto water in a basket

The beer was room temperature, but the staff at my hotel agreed to chill the bottles after they took photos of them. Later that night, I enjoyed a cold Saranac White IPA at a favorite late-night outdoor eating establishment.

a bottle of Saranac White IPA next to a plate with grilled fish and vegetables on an outdoor table

It proved to be an excellent mix. Saranac, a beer friends tell me is difficult to find in parts of the U.S., never tasted so good. One side effect, though, was that it left an unintended impression on the owner/cook. To this day he disapprovingly mutters to himself about me thinking American beers are better than Chinese beers if I don't order a Tsingtao beer from him, even though I never again brought my own beer.

Maybe next time I will treat him to a Saranac so he can decide for himself. It might even inspire him to start selling it and save me from making a trip to Carrefour*.

*It would be another surprise, but one can dream.

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