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All Things Beer & Booze!!!

source:Teach Abroad time:2019-10-22 15:35:56 read:237


So it’s about time we talk about China’s drinking culture and what you can expect from your local expat social scene. Here in Hangzhou there are numerous bars which are frequented by expats. The names and addresses are supplied at the bottom of the article . We’re going to tell you a little more about the history of alcohol in China and the do’s and don’ts if you’re planning on wetting your whistle!

It’s widely accepted that the earliest beer known to man was first brewed in ancient China. However, this hasn’t led to a nation of alcoholics or heavy drinkers. Actually far from it. Some of you may have heard of “Asian flush”. This is the red face and sweats which some people experience when they drink alcohol. It’s actually a genetic disorder of sorts whereby the liver lacks a certain enzyme to process alcohol. Astonishingly it’s thought up to 75% of East Asians lack this enzyme and experience uncomfortable hot flushes when drinking. In China this has led to many young people refusing to consume alcohol, incorrectly citing an allergy. Conversely, in Japan and Korea, the young will happily carry on drinking through their episodes of sweating, palpitations and flushing. It can be a strange site to Europeans at first who are heavily accustomed and tolerant to alcohol.

The first thing to appreciate about drinking alcohol in China is that it is considered a very social activity and one done with food. It’s unusual to find traditional western bars whose sole purpose is for intoxication. Alcohol is popular in China but it’s nearly always during lunch and dinner. Drinking for the sake of drinking isn’t a past-time widely accepted. That’s not to say there aren’t heavy drinkers in China. Typically, middle-aged men may drink strong Baiju liquor (50% AV)

and become quite inebriated. It’s not uncommon to see a group of businessmen leaving a restaurant holding each other up trying to flag down a taxi. But behind closed doors in the family home is where most heavy drinking takes place.

Chinese people can be incredibly hospitable and enjoy drinking with foreigners. However this can lead to a predicament or two! Firstly, it’s polite to only drink when the other person drinks and you must constantly ‘cheers’ glasses. It’s also usual for the drink to be consumed quickly, in one swift motion… referred to a ganbei in Chinese. So this tends to create awkward situations. In general, Europeans can have a high tolerance to alcohol but it can become quite competitive as too how much one another can drink. It never ends well and always concludes in a horrendous hang-over the following morning. It’s best to concede defeat to your Chinese counterpart and enjoy the fine hospitality in good jest. When it comes to Baiju, the taste is acquired. It can be incredibly strong but it’s interesting to know that the Chinese company Maotai Baiju is now considered the most valuable alcohol company in the world. Bottles can fetch up to $10,000 a piece.

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When it comes to Chinese beer things get a little lighter. Chinese beer is not as strong as European or Japanese beer with strengths ranging from 1.8% to 3.4%. Tsingtao remains the market leader. It was established more than 100 years ago by German brewers in the northern Shandong province of China. It later became the stable and favourite of the Chinese Communist party. Stronger European beers are available in bars but be prepared to pay a premium for them. Finally, there’s an unfortunate epidemic of fake alcohol in mainland China. It’s not unheard of to find counterfeit brands at seemingly bargain prices. Nevertheless, these are dangerous and often contain harmful chemical substitutes. We recommend you look for the white import label on foreign bottles and sealed tops.

Please also remember to drink responsibly and remember your schools Code of Conduct when it comes to time-keeping and day-to-to professionalism.

Here is a list of local bars popular among the expat community in Hangzhou

Wades Bar & Grill

3/F, No.163 Wulin Road, Xiacheng District, Hangzhou 310001 China

+86 571 8701 1778


Amigo Restaurant and Bar

8 Yugu Road, Hangzhou China

+86 571 8880 9599


College Bar

No.3 Lanjia Wan, Qingzhiwu, Yugu Road, Hangzhou 310012 China

+86 571 8739 9817


Peers Bar

No.2 North Baochu Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou, China

+86 571 8683 9917


Midtown brewery

Address: 6 Changshou Road, Kerry Central, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, 310006

Phone: +86 571 8733 8888

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