And I discovered yesterday that the Chaoshifa supermarket on the corner of Chengfu Lu and Xueyuan Lu is selling Bamberger Kaiserdom premium lager in one litre cans.
And they're not expensive, either. And they're selling even larger cans, those kind of mini-keg things, of a couple of other German beers. Those mini-kegs were a bit too daunting for the state of mind I was in yesterday, not to mention the state of our fridge, so I just filed away a mental note that there are even bigger cans of German beer for sale, and checked the price of the Kaiserdom. Not too bad for a foreign brew, imported, I might add, in such a large volume. I can't remember the price, but I believe it was less than twenty kuai. So I dropped one in my basket with my dumplings, milk and Blue Diamond "Stout" and trundled off.
Oh, don't worry, I did pay for it all on the way out.
I drank the Kaiserdom last night after dinner. There's something special about drinking out of a one litre can. Not sure what it is. Anyway, it is something that should be experienced at least once. Either that or do the smart thing and pour it into a more appropriate vessel. But I chose to drink straight out of the can. Cool. A one litre can.
And the beer? Well, it was better than any Chinese brew I've ever had. Meaning: It actually had flavour. Otherwise, it was just another lager. All lager is by definition a second rate brew, and that's only the good lager. Not even the best lager can match even a mediocre ale. Still, it was a decent brew as far as lagers go, and there was one whole litre of it in the can, and it did have a decent alcohol content, at 4.5%, or 4,5% as those bloody Europeans insist on having it- nothing spectacular, but still, better than any Chinese brew.
Don't get me wrong: Stronger is not necessarily better. But beer does need a certain level of alcohol, and most Chinese brews don't even come close to matching it. The best Chinese brews (Snow, Tsingtao, etc) are not too far off, their alcohol content is enough to make them drinkable, but that's about as good as it gets.
And now I will let you all in on a little secret: Snow is not actually my favourite Chinese beer. It is my brew of choice, yes, but there's a reason for that. My favourite Chinese beer is actually quite hard to find. My favourite is Tsingtao's 海岛黑啤/Haidao Heipi. That is that rarest of all Chinese brews- it actually has flavour. Good flavour. Flavour you enjoy savouring. It's the kind of beer that leaves you disappointed when you finish the bottle, because now the bottle is empty, dammit, and you have to get another one to continue savouring that beautiful, beautiful brew. One of the good things about Tianjin is that my local supermarket and a nearby restaurant stocked Haidao Heipi. I've only seen it once since I moved back to Beijing.
I guess I'll have to add a new category to this blog- pijiu.
Note: Bottled beer is always better than canned beer. If beer was sold in one litre bottles, I would be very happy.