Monday, June 6, 2011

Lhasa Beer!

Lhasa Beer USA imports Lhasa Beer from a Chinese business, the Lhasa Brewing Company Limited, based in Tibet. They make a sweet malty lager but what’s really interesting is the background information on the brewery and beer culture of the area.

Last summer I took a trip with my friends to China, and an immediate realization was that beer was inexistent as far as I could tell.  Despite the lack of beer, there was a plethora of rice wines with incredibly high alcohol content and cheap prices (1-5 US dollars). This made it evident that alcohol wasn't an issue at all. History shows that beer had been around about nine thousand years but then lost prominence to Huangjiu, the yellow liquor I mentioned. 

I remembered what one of my professors had said. He told us that drinking carries much more cultural significance in China than it does here in America. If you were to attend any type of meeting, you will be expected to drink. There is a deep cultural significance in toasting, drinking, and eating with company in order to build relationships. You are also never to refuse a toast because you will lose face and show disrespect to your host. We did come across this often, but only once toasting with beer (Corona's to be exact) along with students at Nanjing University. 

With more research, I found out that there is actually a good handful of brewers in China, so they do exist.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of China's breweries serve only their local vicinity. Only a few brewpubs exist in China, mostly in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing which have a resident western community and carry beers that we're already familiar with. Lhasa is one of the few beers that is brewed in China, and available in the US for us to try.

Lhasa Beer is an all-natural, all-malt lager beer made with Himalayan Spring Water, Saaz hops, yeast, and Tibetan barley. The native Tibetan barley, unlike most barley varieties in the world, has no hull. Thus it adds to the beer's body and gives it an extra dimension of flavor while eliminating some of the undesirable astringency that can come from the grain hulls. Dzambuling, the US company that imports Lhasa, is helping the Tibetan people, pointing out that 72% of Lhasa’s employees are ethnic Tibetans and that 10% of the company’s profits are donated to support philanthropic intervention in Tibet. Do a good deed and try out Lhasa Beer.

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