In mid-July, a group of three beer enthusiasts gathered at my apartment for a beer tasting led by Xenon Yuan, author of the new blog ChinaBeerGeek. We tried about a dozen pale ales, about half of them available in China and the rest hand-carried in by Yuan. We tried them against a sharp cheddar and a blue cheese. Here are Yuan’s tasting notes (for more details, such as the differences between pale ale and India pale ale (IPA), or between American and European interpretations of these styles, see his blog). I’ll post an interview with Yuan on Monday about Beijing’s best beer bars, how to protect your brew at home, and more. Here are some of his comments from the tasting…
“The beers available in Beijing were as follows:
“Greene King IPA, 3.6% alcohol by volume (ABV). Not an authentic IPA, but actually an “ordinary session bitter”. (UK)
“Fuller’s London Pride, 4.7% ABV. Another classic English pale ale.
“American brewers tend to use hops that are a cross between traditional European varieties and an indigenous wild variety native to the Americas. These new hops produce flavors and aromas that are described as “citrusy” or “piney”, unlike the “grassy” or “earthy” qualities common to their European cousins. Out of this came a whole new incarnation of pale ale.
“When we moved to IPA’s, I started off with Brooklyn Brewery’s East India Pale Ale, again imported by DXCEL and now available in many cities throughout China.
“Aside from these beers, the rest were from my personal stash. They are arguably more “extreme” variations, such as the “double” or “imperial” IPA. (This style in particular was my choice for moving onto the blue cheese, by the way.)
“Again, you can read more about these beers and our encounter with them at my new blog. They are listed below for reference.
- 2009 Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop Ale
- Victory Brewing Co’s HopDevil Ale
- Bear Republic Brewing Co’s Hop Rod Rye
- Southern Tier’s Unearthly IIPA and Oak-Aged Unearthly IIPA
- Stone Brewing Co’s Ruination IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale
“As should be apparent, this was quite a long night. In the future, I hope to conduct more such tastings, and hopefully with a few more people so as to lessen the burden on our livers. Moreover, I have so many more styles and categories of beer to introduce people to, foods to pair them with, and surprises to reveal. A whole world awaits, full of new tastes, smells, and flavor possibilities!