Tourists rally around Sino-suds in China's 'Beer City'
July 19, 1997
Web posted at: 5:38 a.m. EDT (0938 GMT)
QINGDAO, China (CNN) -- Beer drinkers are wasting precious little time in making sure Qingdao keeps its title as China's "Beer City."
Beer brewers and their faithful followers are gathering in Qingdao for the city's seventh annual Qingdao International Beer Festival and Beer & Beverage Fair. Organizers expect up to a million festival-goers.
The two-week bash, running July 8 through July 23, gives beer devotees a chance to beat the heat in one of the giant country's most popular summer beach spots. Festivities include parades, drinking competitions, a fashion show, sports activities, and live performances.
For the brewers, it's a booming money-maker and a place to catch up on the latest trends in brewing, technology and marketing to the Middle Kingdom's billion-strong population.
The city's namesake brew, Tsingtao (the former spelling of Qingdao) is China's most famous beer. The darker, red-labeled variety sells only in China, while the more familiar green-bottled beer sells worldwide.
Other brewers have come to tempt beer fans as well, including the Japanese brand Asahi, currently ranked number two among China's beer drinkers, and Holland's Amstel.
It's a tough market, though.
"Tsingtao is the emperor here in China. (There is) only one national brand here in China," admitted competitor Yoshizo Nakagawa of Asahi.
He Wei, a beer importer, agrees, "The demand for local beer is very big. If you want to enter a local beer market, it is quite difficult."
The festival's success in promoting the beer and the city seems assured.
Organizers hope the event will stimulate China's growing beer market. Despite the party atmosphere, China isn't a beer-swilling nation, consuming only a fraction of the amount sold in neighboring Japan.
Qingdao owes much of its beer tradition to Germany. The Germans began brewing there last century when the city was under German control. Now, only the architecture -- and the beer -- remain.
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