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Old 01-12-2012, 05:59 AM   #1
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Default Starting up in Beijiing

I became interested in home brewing after I visited Great Leap Brewery last year in Beijing. I live in China six months out of the year and the local beer is the equivalent of water, though imports are not too bad but the selection is limited. I was back in Chicago late summer and fall of 2011 and while I was there I found a craft beer bar called Bigby's (in Addison). These guys really screwed me up, with a hundred plus beers on hand and only craft beers on tap, my standards of what is acceptable in beer was raised.

I returned to Beijing a couple of weeks back and hooked up with a local brewing club that is just getting started. I have Palmer's book with me and I am heading out on Saturday to do some shopping for equipment. After talking to the guys here who are already brewing, it looks like extract is not an option, it will be all grain. And I have access to the basic ingredients. I shipped a 65 gpd RO unit here a couple of years ago and it is hooked up in our apartment. The water here varies between toxic and horrifying. Forced carbonation/kegging seems to be the way everyone goes, and it is fairly cheap.

Equipment will probably require some fabrication. My Chinese is non-existent so I will convince some friends to help me get things done that I can't handle myself. It should be interesting, I will try and post pics for the curious so you can see what its like trying to put this together here.



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Old 01-12-2012, 11:22 AM   #2
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That is very cool keep us posted. I bet you most of the equipment you can get right there in China, with exeption of used corneys - you will have to buy them new made in China
Why don't you start a brewing blog, that would be interesting.



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Old 01-12-2012, 11:39 AM   #3
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Corny's are cheap here, or at least that is what I was told. But you would probably be surprised, things here are double or triple in cost compared to the U.S., and many things are blocked from being sold to the domestic Chinese market.

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Old 01-12-2012, 03:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinTurtle View Post
The water here varies between toxic and horrifying. Forced carbonation/kegging seems to be the way everyone goes, and it is fairly cheap.
While I wouldn't go into any of their lakes, rivers or any other body of water, their potable water standards are actually pretty close to ours. I wouldn't hesitate to drink tap water over there but only in places where I knew what materials were used in the water pipes. I actually toured a couple of their water and wastewater treatment plants in Beijing. It's quite impressive.

+1 on a brewing blog.
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Old 01-12-2012, 03:17 PM   #5
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I drank the water in Beijing. It looked and tasted fine to me.

Now, breathing the air was something I would like to have avoided. Tianjin was even worse.

Good luck with your brewing. Love to see / hear of your progress.

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Old 01-13-2012, 01:54 AM   #6
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I detailed my experience with water in Beijing here.
I live in the CBD of Beijing in Central Park, one of the most pricey areas of the city. Water quality swings wildly from day to day, some days you can get in the shower and the smell is close to solvent. One shower literally frosts the glass with deposits.

Nobody should ever drink tap water here unless you like Giardiasis. The .gov tests the water as it comes out of the water treatment plant, which is great, but then it goes through miles if infrastructure that is beyond dubious. Unless you are in a western hotel you never order ice and bottled water has to be opened at the table (as they like to refill the bottles from the faucet).

The bottled water industry is booming here and we were burning through 3 5 gallon containers a week @ about $8 US each. Then last year in the China Times there was an article that 80% of the bottled water sold in Beijing is fake (ie some dude in a hutong with a garden hose). Not surprising since they fake everything, the beer and all of the hard alchohol included (yes Virginia, that is not real Jack Daniels). Thats when the RO unit got hooked up.

I remember back when I first got here I watched these two guys riding a 3 wheel bicycle stacked about 15 feet high with green bottles. They stopped about 50 yards from me and started tearing through this dumpster pulling out bottles. But they only kept the green bottles and were throwing everything else back. I was like - WTF? So I walk over and see that their bike is stacked with all Heinekin and Carlsberg bottles. Thats it - all they wanted. Later I asked this Chinese friend what the deal was and he gave me that little virtual pat on the head and was like.... they are going to refill those. Really? With Heinekin? Umm, no....

You either know the place you drink - or you drink Chinese beer.

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Old 02-01-2012, 01:06 PM   #7
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The wife went to NYC for a week and took an extra suitcase to bring back a few things. I really feel bad because I nuked her with 80 lbs of stuff. But she is a trooper and packed everything carefully and got it all back to Beijing.



Next I have to go back to HEC and pick up some kettles and then comes the hard part. Finding somebody to TIG weld the ferrules for me.

So far I have had zero luck finding a large cooler. Igloo said that Walmart was a distributor here but the store at the CBD had nothing. Rubbermaid gave me an email contact so I will see what happens with that.

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Old 02-01-2012, 02:16 PM   #8
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Score. Man, my wife wouldn't do that for me.

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Old 02-01-2012, 03:19 PM   #9
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I thought water was fine by me (Lido area), but the apartment I lived in had a constant supply of filtered water and it was cheap (I agree that most things there are not at all). Have you tried the Beijinger forum for local expertise? I am sure one can find anything possible on this forum - lots of really different people there, judging by their posts some must definitely brew something.

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Old 02-04-2012, 01:25 PM   #10
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I found stainless steel pots at HEC (Hotel Equipment Corporation) across from the south railway station. Here's a pic of the row of pots, they had every size you could imagine. I saw a couple of 58 gallon ones but I don't think my stove is quite up to the task.



I picked up two 10g pots but I am not certain of the type or thickness of stainless. They were the best pots they had and cost me about $44 each.



The Rubbermaid rep could not find me a local distributor with the cooler I was looking for, and really wasn't interested in talking to me. But as I wandered down the aisles at HEC I was surprised to find........



A Rubbermaid with the split lid and holds 18 gallons. I may kick myself but I did not buy it. I am still uncertain as to how I want to handle my mash tun. I had read where people had issues with the coolers breaking down with use, and this thing was about $180 USD, which is pricey. I have to do more research and get a more solid idea as to what I want to do. I do have the valve conversion kit from Northern Brewers so perhaps this is the way to go.



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