Homebrewers in China

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Just tossing this topic out here in case anyone happens by. I'm a relatively long-term American expat in China with a few years of homebrewing here under my belt. There are a couple homebrew clubs with decent foreign membership in some of the bigger cities, but otherwise there's still a lot of fragmentation and a lot of expat homebrewers are basically going it solo. If anyone, expat or local, wants to talk homebrewing in China, feel free to drop a note here.
 

rusty_tlc

Grain slayer.
Joined
Nov 29, 2016
Messages
68
Reaction score
18
Location
Reno
I am nowhere near China but I am fascinated by the challenges you must face.
Where do you find supplies?
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
12
Reaction score
4
Location
Suzhou
Same here - I'm up in Suzhou. There are a couple of people brewing here, but no real clubs or anything, so I find it very difficult to improve my technique. Basically, I started brewing in China (haven't been to the US since 2005), and I've learned everything basically from books, Youtube and these forums.

As Rusty suggests, finding ingredients is tricky. Taobao is good for some things, but the selection of malts and yeasts is reasonably limited. What I wouldn't give to be able to head down the street to a local homebrew shop and peruse the shelves...
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Welcome, @coffeespoonman! Not been back since 2005? You've got me beat by a long shot. I've lived here since 2007, but I go back to the States every summer. This summer I finally visited a homebrew shop after intending to do so every summer since I started brewing. It was quite underwhelming, though I guess it would have been a lot more exciting if I were actually shopping for ingredients and not just browsing around to see if they had anything useful I could bring back to China (I got a wine thief and a quart of Starsan, the latter of which was confiscated from my luggage when I flew back on account of it being a concentrated acid).

Where do you do your Taobao shopping? I've found PC and 多姐 to have the best selection of (mostly imported) ingredients. Manpin has some of the best prices and pretty good selection as long as you're fine sticking with domestic grains. Lately, though, I've been getting my base malt through a buddy who runs a brewpub here in Wuhan. He buys pallets of grain from Castle Malting in Belgium and he lets me buy sacks of base malt at cost. I'm sure Suzhou has a few brewpubs, probably has for longer than Wuhan has, so that may be a good way to source base malt and maybe specialty grains as well if you're not using the cheap domestically-malted stuff.

If you're interested in brew notes from another homebrewer, I ship beers back and forth with a guy in Guangzhou every once in a while and we trade notes. If you want to get in on that, shoot me a PM and we can figure out details.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
12
Reaction score
4
Location
Suzhou
Thanks, FatDragon!

I've traditionally mostly used Manpin and Gao since back when they were just about the only options. Recently, I've started exploring a bit, but after some inconsistent malt orders (I got two different grains which were meant to be 150 and 300 EBC, but were actually exactly the same. Also had some efficiency issues), I think I'll just stick with Manpin for most things Taobao. Will keep your recommendations in mind for any kind of specialty orders though.

Unfortunately, Wuhan is actually better than Suzhou for brewpubs. We technically have one (if you don't count the German Brauhaus corporate places), but it's new and honestly not very good. There are a couple of taphouses (as of June 2016), so we do finally have options for drinking, but that's about it. I've got a buddy here who brews, bottles and sells his own, so I suppose I could talk to him about grains, I just don't see him very often.

BTW, is it Bubble Lab you're referring to? I went there last year - great place.

Who's the guy in Guangzhou you're referring to? I've got a few brew buddies down that way. Could be the same guy. I'd probably be interested in getting in on your brew notes thing. The only problem is that I keg, not bottle condition, and I don't have a lot of experience with my homemade counter pressure filler. The bottles may end up arriving flat. But that'd be good feedback to have too!
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
I think one of the grain companies that 多姐 and maybe PC sell is actually domestic, probably the same stuff that Manpin sells but under a different name. Malteurop, maybe? If you buy Briess, Castle/Chateau, or Weyermann from them you'll get a more consistent product made with better grain. Nothing wrong with Manpin's "Aussie" 2-row, though. You have to use a bit more to get the same OG, but if you buy by the 50kg sack it's dirt cheap and it makes good beer. If I ever get my druthers and start selling mini kegs to friends and acquaintances, I plan on my house beer being an APA made with Manpin's 2-row, a bit of their C-60, and Cascade hops from Xinjiang.

Bummer about the lack of brewpubs in Suzhou, but I'm sure you're not far behind. I think I've seen info from Boxing Cat or one of the other Shanghai brewpubs suggesting they want to open up in Suzhou. You were right with the Bubble Lab guess - I buy my grains from Marco, the owner and brewmaster. I wish I could get there more often, but it's on the other side of the river so it's quite a haul here in Wuhan. Fortunately, a couple American guys opened up a brewpub not too far from here, first on my side of the river that I know of, so I can get there a little more often. Devil's Brewery in Wuchang if you're back in Wuhan sometime. They're more adventurous than Marco at Bubble Lab so while there's some quality inconsistency, you get some good and interesting beers there.

In GZ, the guy's name is Mark, goes by @GQT on the forums here. If you figure out that counter pressure filler, send me a PM and we can trade addresses. Warning, though - I'm trying to come out of a stretch of sub-par brewing so most of my beer on hand demonstrates one noticeable flaw or another. I'm trying to get back to basics on my next few brews (including the one in primary now), so hopefully things will be better soon.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
12
Reaction score
4
Location
Suzhou
Hey, just had a look through the Taobao sites you recommended - some great stuff there! I've used them before, but never paid much attention to their stock. There are so many bad sites that have just one or two things that I need, that I never spent any real time investigating them all. So, it's good to get a recommendation. Thanks!

I'm also coming off (I hope) of a pretty bad run. My brewing partner had a bunch of kids, and then I struggled with infections for a while, then disappointing efficiency. Most recently, I moved house, so there have been a bit of teething pains there (realized my wort chiller hose didn't fit my kitchen sink with about 10 minutes left in the boil!).

Finally, I think most of those problems are getting solved, and I should be making some good beers pretty soon. Will work on the counter pressure thing and PM you once I've got it sorted!
 

SPLASTiK

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2006
Messages
527
Reaction score
11
Location
Juneau, AK
Hey FatDragon! How are the Chinese hops? It's hard to find any info on them. My friends actually are part owners of Devil's Brewery in Wuhan and I'm going to visit them next month! I recently left my brewing gig at Alaskan and they're trying to convince me to move there but I don't think I could do it long term...
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Hey FatDragon! How are the Chinese hops? It's hard to find any info on them. My friends actually are part owners of Devil's Brewery in Wuhan and I'm going to visit them next month! I recently left my brewing gig at Alaskan and they're trying to convince me to move there but I don't think I could do it long term...
Heyoo! I'm hoping to do a collaboration with Devil's in a couple weeks when I get three consecutive weekends free (wife is taking the baby to some teacher training in March). I really like their operation, though I rarely get there (see "baby" above).

The Chinese hops I've used include Cascade and Saaz. I know nothing about Saaz, never having actually used proper Saaz in a brew. The beer in question had some issues that may have been related to the hops but were certainly not limited to that. The Cascade hops taste and smell like proper Cascade hops, the only problem is that the place I've bought from uses a pelletizer that's clearly made for rabbit food or something like that - the hops are overheated in the pelletization process and come out with a bit of a plasticky undertone; I'd like to contact the source and see if I can buy whole cone but since I only need a kilo every year or so I'm not sure if they'd go for it.
 

Bigbadbazza

New Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2017
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
Hi, I am looking to start brewing, but am finding the equipment (kit) hard to find. Any help would greatly appreciated.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Sure thing. Do you know what you want and don't know where to get it, or are you still trying to determine what kind of equipment you need?

Do you know if you will plan to brew extract (possible, but our extract options here are very limited), BIAB (single vessel all-grain), or 2-3 vessel all-grain with a mash tun and a boil kettle? Batch size? What kind of cooktop do you have?
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
The Master Cup China homebrew series is on for 2017. First station was last weekend in Kunming (where my Cherry Juice Quad sadly failed to place). Upcoming stations are in Xi'an 5/27-28, Xiamen 6/24-25, Shenyang 7/29-30, and Wuhan 8/26-27. You can find more information (mostly in Chinese but with some of the important stuff translated to English) at WeChat ID: mastercupchina
 

GQT

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2015
Messages
252
Reaction score
40
Location
Guangzhou
In GZ, the guy's name is Mark, goes by @GQT on the forums here
To my shame this is the 1st time I logged in since errr... what?.. more than a year ago.
Can't wait ti return to brewing.
End of October, probably, as soon as it falls to under 25C.
What flaws do you mean??? The beers I tried were real great, except one that we agreed was a bit watery, but otherwise I keep dear memories of them. Barleywine was to die for, so were all of them in fact.
What are your plans for near future?
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
To my shame this is the 1st time I logged in since errr... what?.. more than a year ago.
Can't wait ti return to brewing.
End of October, probably, as soon as it falls to under 25C.
What flaws do you mean??? The beers I tried were real great, except one that we agreed was a bit watery, but otherwise I keep dear memories of them. Barleywine was to die for, so were all of them in fact.
What are your plans for near future?
I had to take a 3 month hiatus from brewing over the summer, but finally got a double brewday in last weekend: mashed like a barleywine, split the wort about 60/40 between an IPA that I boiled that night and a sour pale ale that I kettle soured for a couple days before boiling. The last brewday was another double batch, Durian Hefeweizen and dry-hopped Gose, where the wheat (50% of the grist) went largely un-milled because my gap was too big, and I didn't realize it until after the mash, so I got a really terrible attempt at a hefeweizen on one side and a surprisingly decent gose on the other. This time around, I have every reason to believe they'll both be good.

Personally, everything's pretty good. Started back up a month ago at the school where I work, while my wife opened an English training center to keep her occupied while she takes time off from teaching to raise our almost nine-month-old boy (who is awesome) - she's just managing it, not teaching.

I entered the last qualifier of the Master's Cup with my quad and barleywine. No beers placed in either of their categories (dark belgian and dark ale), so they didn't score too well. I happen to know a guy who was on the team that judged the quad and he said it was in the top tier of the entries but nothing broke about 25-26 points out of 50. No feedback on the barleywine, though I'm sure it lost a lot of points for being more oxidized than a barleywine should. I've just started trying to work on my water chemistry, so hopefully I'll have some better beers next year to enter if that makes as big a difference as so many people say it does.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GQT

YourShoutMate

New Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2012
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
A big Cheers to you guys. I'm about to head back to China, Shanghai. I first made landfall in 2000 and stayed til 2008 I then moved to Hanoi, Vietnam for 4 years, and have spent the last five in Hamburg, Germany. There was a brewpub in Zhuhai which I visited many years ago, dunno if the guys are still there. Glad to see that there's some interest in sharing info, I look forward to chatting with you guys further, once I settle in. Right now I have to dump a bunch of dark grains and base malt because, apparently I'm not allowed to ship them with my family's personal belongings.

Cheers, and L8R.
 

GQT

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2015
Messages
252
Reaction score
40
Location
Guangzhou
Shanghai to Hanoi
One quick question, Where did you like it better?
China now is not what it was when you left. In many ways, some of which you might not find yourself liking.
But I'm not suggsting any answer, I am just wondering whether Hanoi felt like a place more decent or less decent to stay.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
A big Cheers to you guys. I'm about to head back to China, Shanghai. I first made landfall in 2000 and stayed til 2008 I then moved to Hanoi, Vietnam for 4 years, and have spent the last five in Hamburg, Germany. There was a brewpub in Zhuhai which I visited many years ago, dunno if the guys are still there. Glad to see that there's some interest in sharing info, I look forward to chatting with you guys further, once I settle in. Right now I have to dump a bunch of dark grains and base malt because, apparently I'm not allowed to ship them with my family's personal belongings.

Cheers, and L8R.
Welcome, or should I say, welcome back!

I don't know Zhuhai, but craft beer is booming all over China, and the market and regulations are slowly adapting to accommodate it. A friend here in Wuhan is selling a couple bottled beers on a large scale now - an IPA and a milk stout he markets as the first domestic bottle-conditioned beer approved for sale in China (there are regulations about filtering bottled beer in China), and I've even started seeing them in small mini-marts around town, along with and ever-widening selection of imported (mostly German and Belgian) beers that are even becoming commonplace in domestic supermarkets. Brewpubs and small craft breweries are popping up all over the place too. Shanghai and Beijing are, of course, well ahead of the rest of the mainland in this regard - I can think of four or five big brewpubs or craft brewers in Shanghai, and there are a bunch of bottle shops with plenty of hard-to-find beers, and probably quite a few smaller brewpubs as well.

As for homebrewing, the hobby is blossoming here. There's a major homebrew competition in the Master's Cup organized by Master Gao of his eponymous brewing company (one of, if not the first craft beer bottled in China, though the only bottle I've ever had of their beer was their Baby IPA and it was horrendous), beer and homebrew festivals, lots of local homebrew clubs (including at least one with major foreign membership, in Beijing), and a wide variety of equipment options - from BIAB in a 120 kuai stock pot to Speidel Braumeisters or domestically-produced microbrewery kits - and ingredients - from all-domestic brewing to all-imported. I've been brewing here for just over four years, and the hobby has been growing massively since I started. It's still a very raw and under-developed market, but there's never been a better time for beer in China, and it's getting better every year.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Cheers for posting this!

I've been in Hangzhou for a year now doing an MA and really wanted to try brewing again - managed two brewing sessions back home before coming here and really enjoyed it (even though one was an utter failure). Thought about it last year when I first got here since the beer left something to be desired, but couldn't really track anything down so figured it would be impossible. Having seen your post while browsing, I checked Taobao again, found some stores that sell both equipment and ingredients, and think I might pull the trigger.

Now just need to convince my girlfriend our small apartment can fit a large bucket ;)

Also: I've found the south to be full of decent home brews. While in Chengdu four years ago, a lot of the expat places stocked some home brewed beer; there is also a bar in Lijiang popular with expats and young Chinese, I forget the name but I think it was something like Crow's nest, and the manager has some of his own beer that he'll share if you get him talking about beer - pretty delicious. Haven't had as much luck up here in HZ.

EDIT: Wondering where you guys track down food grade buckets for your fermenter/bottling bucket. I found some imported brewing buckets on Taobao for ~90 kuai, but there are also 34 kuai 食品级塑料桶. However, I'm not really sure whether or not it's safe to trust Taobao claims of 食品级. The difference for 1 bucket is only 60 kuai, but if I'm buying three buckets (two primaries, one bottling), it quickly adds up. Any thoughts?

EDIT 2: I went for the beer store's bucket since I was worried about the plastics on the cheaper ones; I also bit the bullet and will buy the equipment for BIAB brews tonight once I've figured out what malt/hops to buy. I'm buying everything on Taobao and found a 50L stainless steel pot for around 122 kuai, a ~6 gallon bucket for 90 kuai and other odds and ends (bottler, a grain mill, hose, etc) for a total of 422 kuai, $62. It's more than I hoped since I did not get a wort chiller and shopped around for 3 days before finally filling my cart, but I received a $32 starter set back in the states and that was for 1 gallon and didn't include pots (which I already had) so I guess I can't complain too much! :tank:

For people who don't speak Chinese and come across this thread in the future, there are brewing kits available on Taobao for 280 kuai, all the way up to 750. The 280 one is just the bucket, pot, hoses etc. A set with all the stuff mentioned above + a wort chiller and a 30L pot for the stove is currently 593; change it out for an electric pot and it's 650; add a MLT and it's 750. The shops all seem to be around this range. You can copy and paste 自酿啤酒设备 to find the sets. I found four stores that sell them and they all look pretty similar. I thought the 28L pot would be a little small as I wanted to do BIAB.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Cheers for posting this!

I've been in Hangzhou for a year now doing an MA and really wanted to try brewing again - managed two brewing sessions back home before coming here and really enjoyed it (even though one was an utter failure). Thought about it last year when I first got here since the beer left something to be desired, but couldn't really track anything down so figured it would be impossible. Having seen your post while browsing, I checked Taobao again, found some stores that sell both equipment and ingredients, and think I might pull the trigger.

Now just need to convince my girlfriend our small apartment can fit a large bucket ;)

Also: I've found the south to be full of decent home brews. While in Chengdu four years ago, a lot of the expat places stocked some home brewed beer; there is also a bar in Lijiang popular with expats and young Chinese, I forget the name but I think it was something like Crow's nest, and the manager has some of his own beer that he'll share if you get him talking about beer - pretty delicious. Haven't had as much luck up here in HZ.

EDIT: Wondering where you guys track down food grade buckets for your fermenter/bottling bucket. I found some imported brewing buckets on Taobao for ~90 kuai, but there are also 34 kuai 食品级塑料桶. However, I'm not really sure whether or not it's safe to trust Taobao claims of 食品级. The difference for 1 bucket is only 60 kuai, but if I'm buying three buckets (two primaries, one bottling), it quickly adds up. Any thoughts?
I'm a bad expat - never been to Hangzhou so I don't know the beer scene there. You're near Shanghai, though, which has tons of craft beer both local and imported. I would have supposed that a town like Hangzhou would be lousy with craft beer too, but maybe not. Business opportunity? A decent craft beer bar is an excellent business to establish here - the market is very small but growing rapidly and profit potential is very high.

I bought some of those food grade buckets a few years ago and they get use in grain storage and sparging, but I have only fermented in small 5L ones and infections were all too common with them because of easily-scratched surfaces. Now, for my small batches I just buy a 4-5L jug of water and use the jug for a fermenter. For bigger batches I use brew buckets, which I think ran closer to 45 kuai when I last bought one. A quick search for "啤酒发酵桶" showed that a bunch of places are selling them closer to 60 kuai, which is a bit better than 90 but more than the "food grade" buckets.

If you don't mind scaling down to 16L batches, you could also use big plastic water jugs as carboys. The deposit on the returnable ones tends to be a bit high, but you can buy them on Taobao for less than 20 kuai each. I've also considered big rectangular oil/baijiu jugs that look like opaque plastic jerry cans (like this one: https://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?s...6202920&cm_id=140105335569ed55e27b&abbucket=2) - they're cheap and the shape would save space in a small apartment or fermentation chamber - but I'm in a slow brewing period with my infant son so upgrading the fermentation chamber and buying these for maximum capacity is a backburner project for now.

Cheers, and don't be shy to post here or send me a PM any time. I might be a few days between visits, but I'll see and respond to anything you post eventually.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
I'm a bad expat - never been to Hangzhou so I don't know the beer scene there. You're near Shanghai, though, which has tons of craft beer both local and imported. I would have supposed that a town like Hangzhou would be lousy with craft beer too, but maybe not. Business opportunity? A decent craft beer bar is an excellent business to establish here - the market is very small but growing rapidly and profit potential is very high.

I bought some of those food grade buckets a few years ago and they get use in grain storage and sparging, but I have only fermented in small 5L ones and infections were all too common with them because of easily-scratched surfaces. Now, for my small batches I just buy a 4-5L jug of water and use the jug for a fermenter. For bigger batches I use brew buckets, which I think ran closer to 45 kuai when I last bought one. A quick search for "啤酒发酵桶" showed that a bunch of places are selling them closer to 60 kuai, which is a bit better than 90 but more than the "food grade" buckets.

If you don't mind scaling down to 16L batches, you could also use big plastic water jugs as carboys. The deposit on the returnable ones tends to be a bit high, but you can buy them on Taobao for less than 20 kuai each. I've also considered big rectangular oil/baijiu jugs that look like opaque plastic jerry cans (like this one: https://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?s...6202920&cm_id=140105335569ed55e27b&abbucket=2) - they're cheap and the shape would save space in a small apartment or fermentation chamber - but I'm in a slow brewing period with my infant son so upgrading the fermentation chamber and buying these for maximum capacity is a backburner project for now.

Cheers, and don't be shy to post here or send me a PM any time. I might be a few days between visits, but I'll see and respond to anything you post eventually.
There are a few craft beer bars, but they all seem to be catered to a high end clientele. I went to ones in Nanjing/Chengdu/Lijiang that were more of a dive, but that meant the prices were pretty affordable. I'm actually about a 10 minute walk from a big craft beer place here, but it's literally in West Lake and has beautiful white cotton couches out on a deck. I never bothered to check the menu as I knew it was too pricey for me :smack: . There is another craft beer place/brewery but again, it's in a really nice location (believe it's actually in a hotel). The local college student's bar has a nice selection of decent beers, but it's something more like a dance club most of the time. Will keep an eye out for other options.

I think the 60 kuai buckets you found are without the 水龙头 (spigot?)? If we're talking about the same one, they have 3 options and the 90 kuai option comes with the lid and the 龙头.

I updated my last message with the stuff I think I settled on; just trying to decide what to brew! Worried about jumping straight into AG as my last brews came with a set, but excited to try. :ban:
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Ah, gotcha. Generally craft beer is going to be pricey in China, but as the market grows, the price is dropping. Still, most brewpubs are going to run at least 25 kuai a pint, many closer to 45 or more depending on the beer. Craft beer bars that don't brew their own tend to be more expensive still. Being in Hangzhou probably hurts you there: it's higher-class and higher-rent than those other cities you mention so there's less call for dive bars with good beer. Even if you don't make yourself a regular at the brewpubs in Hangzhou, it's good to go occasionally and make friends with the brewers. You may be able to get ingredients from them at their bulk prices and free yeast ejected from their fermenters. The brewer may even be a former homebrewer and have some old equipment lying around that you can have for cheap or free.

If you're working on a budget and don't mind using domestic ingredients that may not be quite as nice as imported stuff, shoot me a PM and I can send you a couple Taobao shops that I use when I need super cheap domestic hops and grain. You've probably run across the one I've used for cheap grain (and other shops selling the same grain), but the hops are a nice find for budget brews that don't need to be world-class.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
I'm thinking it's way above those prices, sadly. I went to a local bar last night with classmates and a pint of Guinness was 60; Punk IPA was 90 yuan on tap and was the cheapest craft beer. They also had bottles which were cheaper (cheapest was Rogue's Dead Guy Pale Ale at 55). This isn't the fancy brewpub, just the normal bar. Maybe I'll have to go track one down anyway though.

Cheers, will do! I'm having trouble already by the names of malts. I was looking for Pale Malt and Vienna Malt and store said I could buy Pale Ale Malt or Pilsen Malt, both of which seem to be different malts according to Google. EBC is the same. Store owner didn't know Pale Malt.

EDIT: Found a store that had names that were more familiar - couldn't track down a few but think I found substitutes; my only worry is that I couldn't find the liquid yeast called for in the recipe, so I went with a dry yeast that sounded similar enough. Went with BierMuncher's Belgian Blond Ale SWMBO Slayer for my first brew in China. Wish me luck!
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
I'm thinking it's way above those prices, sadly. I went to a local bar last night with classmates and a pint of Guinness was 60; Punk IPA was 90 yuan on tap and was the cheapest craft beer. They also had bottles which were cheaper (cheapest was Rogue's Dead Guy Pale Ale at 55). This isn't the fancy brewpub, just the normal bar. Maybe I'll have to go track one down anyway though.

Cheers, will do! I'm having trouble already by the names of malts. I was looking for Pale Malt and Vienna Malt and store said I could buy Pale Ale Malt or Pilsen Malt, both of which seem to be different malts according to Google. EBC is the same. Store owner didn't know Pale Malt.

EDIT: Found a store that had names that were more familiar - couldn't track down a few but think I found substitutes; my only worry is that I couldn't find the liquid yeast called for in the recipe, so I went with a dry yeast that sounded similar enough. Went with BierMuncher's Belgian Blond Ale SWMBO Slayer for my first brew in China. Wish me luck!
Geez! 90 for Punk on draft? That's what I paid for a draft KBS in Guangzhou! Even at bar prices a pint of Punk shouldn't be more than 45. Market prices for Dead Guy should be about 20-25/bottle (same for bottled Punk, actually) and again, breaking 45 at bar prices is criminal. A bar that is charging those prices is either really popular so people will pay a premium to be there, or they've recently added craft beer to their offerings and have no idea what they can reasonably charge for it.

Buying a 90 kuai pint of (s)Punk IPA at a bar is always a losing proposition. At best you've overpaid for a mediocre IPA. More likely you've overpaid for a stale, several-months old, flat, mediocre IPA tainted by whatever nasty crap has been growing in the uncleaned, almost entirely unused beer lines between the keg and the tap. Bar owners hear that craft beer is the next big thing so they get a few taps installed and then they try to recoup the installation costs before they've emptied their first keg. Meanwhile, nobody in the bar knows anything about serving draft beer or maintaining the system, and the egregious prices prevent anybody but desperate laowai from even considering a pint.

On your grains: if you're brewing on a budget, the Australian 2-row base malt from shops like 慢品啤酒 (malted here in China, rumor says it's shipped from Australia as feed-grade and I don't know anything about that, but it makes a decent beer one way or the other) is a decent cheap option, just add about 15% to your recipe because it has a lower pppg (jargon for how much gravity you can get out of it by weight). It will approximately replace most grains labeled as pale malt, pale ale malt, and 2-row. The wheat and Munich from that shop have always worked out alright for me, though their other specialty grains are of less-consistent quality.

Pilsner Malt is a lighter base grain that tastes more like a classic pilsner lager compared to pale/2-row base malt. Vienna is maybe a bit darker than pale/2-row malt, but the flavor is definitely maltier. You can also approximate the maltiness of Vienna by using pale/2-row and adding 5-8% Munich malt, though it will taste different.

Finally, I've always been under the impression that 'Malteurop' grains in China are domestic, maybe the same grain as 慢品啤酒 sells as Australian 2-row. I'm sure they're fine, but I've never used them since I buy 慢品啤酒 grains if I'm going cheap or sacks of base malt from a brewpub or smaller amounts of specialty grains from PC家自酿啤酒 or 多姐自酿啤酒 if I want grain that is undeniably of imported quality.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Last post has been stuck in moderation queue for a few days now so not sure when this one will pop up, but have good news. BeerBaby from Shanghai just announced they're opening a store in Hangzhou on the 28th (a 2nd store, actually, but this one is in a more accessible location, actually only a few minutes walk from me). Pretty pumped - they're apparently going to have 2,000 different beers ranging in price all the way up to 5800 yuan.

I also started trying the craft beers I bought on Taobao. Wow, pretty disappointing. I had two Shangri-Las and one Gao beer so far; the Shangri-las weren't anything special so far, but were OK. The Gao Baby IPA was... bad. Actually, it was really bad - muddled flavor with some weird fruit notes that did not go with the car tire background. Considering Gao is the most common domestic craft beer, I'm seriously wondering if this bottle somehow went bad. :eek::( I have some more Gaos, Shangri-Las and some other breweries to try out.

All my grains and such got here, but I was pretty bummed when my pot arrived. I had bought a 50L stainless steel pot and planned on brewing this weekend, but the pot that arrived was 25L; the metal was also ridiculously thin so I'm not sure I even want to keep it anymore, I worry about whether it'll survive a year. Taobao seller is being pretty lame about responding, which makes me even more likely to return rather than wait for the right size. Was sorely tempted by a 50L electric 汤桶 that comes with a spigot already attached, but the spigot is the smooth sort on hot water heaters so I'm not sure I can attach a hose to it: pointless? I thought I could save some money by using our awesome Chinese stove tops, but having a spigot might be nice. I actually saw some pots with spigots for the stove, too, but was worried about durability.

Another problem that has suddenly appeared is the temperature drop. It has rained every day for about 6 days now and the temperature is hovering around 6-10 degrees. My apartment has no heating and no insulation, so the temperature outside and inside is usually the same. I don't have the room for a fridge or water bath to maintain temps, so I guess I need to rethink whether this beer will ferment. I forgot how quickly the temps change here in Hangzhou, but it'll probably be 2-10 degrees for the next 2-3 months (at least when it rains).

This part of living in 江南 is pretty fun. We couldn't find a roommate so our second room is an Airbnb and we've had people from Tianjin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Wuhan this week. The northerners were all shocked that apartments (and clothing stores, restaurants, etc) don't have heating; one had to go to an Outdoors store to buy clothing to survive. Suppose it means I could try making a lager, but was hoping to get in a few easier/shorter beers before trying the harder/longer stuff.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Last post has been stuck in moderation queue for a few days now so not sure when this one will pop up, but have good news. BeerBaby from Shanghai just announced they're opening a store in Hangzhou on the 28th (a 2nd store, actually, but this one is in a more accessible location, actually only a few minutes walk from me). Pretty pumped - they're apparently going to have 2,000 different beers ranging in price all the way up to 5800 yuan.

I also started trying the craft beers I bought on Taobao. Wow, pretty disappointing. I had two Shangri-Las and one Gao beer so far; the Shangri-las weren't anything special so far, but were OK. The Gao Baby IPA was... bad. Actually, it was really bad - muddled flavor with some weird fruit notes that did not go with the car tire background. Considering Gao is the most common domestic craft beer, I'm seriously wondering if this bottle somehow went bad. :eek::( I have some more Gaos, Shangri-Las and some other breweries to try out.

All my grains and such got here, but I was pretty bummed when my pot arrived. I had bought a 50L stainless steel pot and planned on brewing this weekend, but the pot that arrived was 25L; the metal was also ridiculously thin so I'm not sure I even want to keep it anymore, I worry about whether it'll survive a year. Taobao seller is being pretty lame about responding, which makes me even more likely to return rather than wait for the right size. Was sorely tempted by a 50L electric 汤桶 that comes with a spigot already attached, but the spigot is the smooth sort on hot water heaters so I'm not sure I can attach a hose to it: pointless? I thought I could save some money by using our awesome Chinese stove tops, but having a spigot might be nice. I actually saw some pots with spigots for the stove, too, but was worried about durability.

Another problem that has suddenly appeared is the temperature drop. It has rained every day for about 6 days now and the temperature is hovering around 6-10 degrees. My apartment has no heating and no insulation, so the temperature outside and inside is usually the same. I don't have the room for a fridge or water bath to maintain temps, so I guess I need to rethink whether this beer will ferment. I forgot how quickly the temps change here in Hangzhou, but it'll probably be 2-10 degrees for the next 2-3 months (at least when it rains).

This part of living in 江南 is pretty fun. We couldn't find a roommate so our second room is an Airbnb and we've had people from Tianjin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Wuhan this week. The northerners were all shocked that apartments (and clothing stores, restaurants, etc) don't have heating; one had to go to an Outdoors store to buy clothing to survive. Suppose it means I could try making a lager, but was hoping to get in a few easier/shorter beers before trying the harder/longer stuff.
I haven't had (or even heard of) Shangri-La, but Baby IPA is on the shortlist of worst craft beers I've ever had. I've never even considered trying another Gao beer since Baby IPA - if your flagship beer is that bad, I'm out. If you can get it fresh, try 跳东湖. It's an IPA out of Wuhan and a fresh bottle is a truly excellent IPA, though it doesn't do well with age. The same brewer also has 胶片G (Film G) Milk Stout (quite nice) and a new coffee saison that won gold at an international beer competition in Japan - I haven't had the commercial version yet but I tried a bottle of his original test run and it was a really good beer.

Return the pot for sure, and re-order one with the thickest steel they offer. Mine is 35x35cm, 2.0 thickness and set me back maybe 130 when I bought it - it's an adequate size for 19-23 liter BIAB batches, though it helps that I sparge the bag in a bucket. From a quick search, I found a 40x40 (50L), 3.6 thickness for about the same price. I'd recommend getting one that has riveted handles, though - I have to move my pot when it's full (and hot) sometimes and cheaply welded handles scare the bejeezus out of me. The electric 汤桶 seems like it might be a good alternative - I've definitely thought of using one myself. You'll need to double check that it can reach a boil, though.

For the fermentation temperature if you're worried about it being too cold, get a cheap electric blanket (or some kind of electric heat tape or wire from Taobao if you're more adventurous) and a temperature controller. Tape some kind of insulation to the outside of the bucket and put the temperature probe under it, then have the temp controller set to turn on the blanket when the beer goes below a certain temperature (maybe 16-18C) and off when it gets too high. Keeping warm enough in the winter is easy enough, it's keeping cool in the summer that's difficult.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Cheers for the advice - I saw a lot of cheap pots, but am worried about this pot for the reasons you mention - the handles look like they're barely hanging on. I found this one (attached) that looks nice and is 210 kuai for 6.0 thick or 82 kuai for 2.0 thick.
TB2iNqYX..iyKJjSspdXXbB_pXa_!!1134198176.jpg_400x400.jpg


Another gear issue is an autosiphon. I couldn't find one on Taobao under 95 kuai, which seemed like a lot (more than some of the pots!!!). The beer store suggested I buy this, which I did, but regretted almost immediately after receiving. While it would work fine (I guess) for moving the beer around, I realized once it got here that the end would need to be near the bottom of the bucket to avoid aeration, which would make it hard to push it if the siphon stops.
TB1dTqHapHM8KJjSZJiXXbx3FXa_!!0-item_pic.jpg_430x430.jpg


Found this to replace it from an aquarium store, seems like it may work better.
TB2KkOAXIaCJuJjy1zkXXbelVXa_!!2058930928.jpg_400x400.jpg


Glad I wasn't the only one who thought badly of the Gao beer. I also had a Buzz Brewery IPA which was definitely better than the Gao, although still just OK. I like all the Chinese labels, though ;). I used to take all the labels off my beer in the hopes of one day covering a wall with them (my grandfather did the same in our staircase with ~40 years of whisky labels). Might need to start doing the same here.
WeChat Image_20171123104530.jpg

Unfortunately, I still have several Gao beers.
WeChat Image_20171123104534.jpg


Keeping warm enough in the winter is easy enough, it's keeping cool in the summer that's difficult.
Cheers for the advice - I'll have to buy one, I guess. Not sure about Wuhan, but we get crazy rains here and they drive the temps down a lot.

I'm not sure I'll even bother brewing in summer. While 三大火炉 usually includes Wuhan/Fuzhou/Chongqing, Hangzhou was actually the hottest city in eastern China last year, along with Chongqing and Fuzhou:no:. In July, we had 2 weeks where it was 40-42 degrees every day, and the rest of June/August wasn't much more comfortable. I did my best to avoid being here this summer, spending 3 weeks in Japan and a month in Shenzhen. Although my girlfriend and I both like Hangzhou, the #1 reason we're thinking about leaving after I graduate is to escape the summer heat.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
I use an autosiphon that I got several years ago, but it busted a while ago and after my repairs it doesn't work very well. I've been wondering what I should do about that. I don't know that I would use an aquarium siphon, though. I doubt it would be food grade. If you do use it, replace the hose with food-grade tubing at least. As for the siphon you got from the brew shop, you could replace with a longer hose and remove the aerator from the end and it might work out better.

As for pot handles, I was ignorant enough to buy one that had welded handles. I had a local guy do a bunch of extra welds along the handles on both sides, to the extent that he said I was going way overboard, but they've always held. It did mess up the inside of the pot a little bit, though, so I'd recommend just getting something that will hold in the first place, hence riveted handles. Getting a tap on the pot would be a good move too, save some lifting and the risk it brings. I need to do that and get longer hoses on my wort chiller so I can start chilling without moving the pot next to the sink. Of course, I've been saying that for four years now...
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Do you think food grade plastics would matter? From what I read online, prolonged exposure, high temperatures or dyes are the dangers we try to avoid by using food grade plastics - the wort/beer will have very little contact with the hoses in a siphon (was my thought). But I'll look into buying food grade hosing - seems relatively cheap.

The only issue with the taps is the spigots on the Chinese pots all seem to be smooth - see picture. Would hosing be able to hold on?
TB2_3WZdUhnpuFjSZFpXXcpuXXa_!!2064705108.jpg

Girlfriend has repeatedly expressed very strong disapproval for wasting water using a wort chiller so I didn't buy one yet. :( Might be stuck chilling in an ice bath.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Do you think food grade plastics would matter? From what I read online, prolonged exposure, high temperatures or dyes are the dangers we try to avoid by using food grade plastics - the wort/beer will have very little contact with the hoses in a siphon (was my thought). But I'll look into buying food grade hosing - seems relatively cheap.

The only issue with the taps is the spigots on the Chinese pots all seem to be smooth - see picture. Would hosing be able to hold on?
View attachment 546851
Girlfriend has repeatedly expressed very strong disapproval for wasting water using a wort chiller so I didn't buy one yet. :( Might be stuck chilling in an ice bath.
You're probably right about the siphon, but a couple meters of food-grade silicone won't set you back much so it's not a big expense for a bit of extra peace of mind.

I've seen various types of taps on big boilers like that, but the tap you're showing would definitely not be a good one to use a hose on. If you got one with a faucet-style tap that might work better, though modifying a ball valve in place of the tap would probably be better than either alternative. That said, if you drain the wort directly into a bucket without a hose, it will provide aeration for fermentation. I can't speak for LODO brewing (a current trend to aggressively minimize hot side aeration of the wort) but for most homebrewers that would be acceptable. Note that if you're draining hot you will want a high-temp food grade bucket or even a stainless pot to drain into.

Two options if you're not hooking a wort chiller up to your water system: If you can find the right kind of container to avoid plastic leaching and infection, you could try no-chill brewing. In no-chill, you seal the wort up in a container and let it chill overnight (or however long it takes to get to pitching temperature) and then pitch your yeast. Otherwise, you can minimize water use by using a wort chiller hooked up to an aquarium pump in a bucket full of ice water. Once you've got the wort relatively cool you can recirculate the runoff back into the bucket. I've never chilled all the way from boiling like this, but I've used recirculating ice water to get well below groundwater temps in the summer. My guess is that you could do alright with 3-4 5kg bags of ice and ~20L of tap water. This has basically the same water efficiency as an ice bath, but it's much faster. Note, though, that bagged ice is hardly ubiquitous here in China so it may be a pain to get enough of it for a proper chill on brewday, and there's a good chance it will set you back half again what you spent on ingredients for a batch. Personally, I'd probably research a good container and just do no-chill, but recirculating ice water is a viable option if you don't mind the trouble and expense.

Incidentally, why is your girlfriend so against the idea of using a wort chiller? Chilling a batch in the winter (cold groundwater) is basically the equivalent of taking a couple showers in terms of water volume, and I don't think there's any water shortage to worry about. Conceptually, I understand wanting to save water, but practically I don't think there's any reason to get bothered about it right now, and if something goes wrong because you didn't use a chiller (infection because of chilling too slowly, plastic leaching in a worse-than-advertised no-chill container, etc.) then you've wasted the time, money, and ingredients it took to brew the beer.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
I went with a spigot-less pot; bottom is 6.0 thick 50L. I figure I can try to track down a weldless valve if I feel the need later on, or have a local bike shop install a spigot :D

I was looking into no-chill brewing, but was worried about whether the food grade plastic jugs are really food grade here - seems really important that the plastics be of a higher quality for the no-chill method. I'll keep reading on it. That would be ideal, but I read most of the thread on no-chill and would like to try a few brews without the risk of introducing other off flavors or calculations first. Cheers for the advice!

The ice bags were my worry, too. I was just going to freeze milk jugs since I've never even seen bags of ice here.

Aye, I know, but she grew up in a tiny Chinese town and was always raised to be really careful about wasting anything. This is also why most Hangzhou'rs don't use heaters, I think - waste of electricity when you could just wear your coat. Even my rather rich student (who has a heater) never turns it on. And yes, certainly no water shortage here. If I lived on the first floor, I could make a rain bucket and have enough water for chilling 50 gallons of wort after a week. That's how much it rains here! I could just buy it and hope the response is just a dirty look.;)
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
You might be able to try a pseudo no-chill where you rest/stir/ice bath the wort down to about 70C and then fill the container. 70C is still hot enough to pasteurize, but it would definitely leach less from your plastic in the event that your food-grade, heat-resistant container doesn't quite live up to its name.

Not using AC and heaters is pretty standard here. It's hard to understand why someone would drop 3.5k on an AC/heating unit and not use it in extreme heat and cold, but so it goes.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Not using AC and heaters is pretty standard here. It's hard to understand why someone would drop 3.5k on an AC/heating unit and not use it in extreme heat and cold, but so it goes.
Par for the course! A lot of my Chinese friends have those fancy free standing heaters/AC units, but I've never seen any of them on. Pretty sure it has to do with 面子 more than temperature as many of those people also have a full-sized western oven that they've never turned on. ;)
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
You sure they're ovens? Full-size ovens are rare here. UV disinfecting cabinets that look like ovens, on the other hand, are pretty common.

That said, I've definitely got acquaintances with the built-in, never-used, full-size oven. Mostly rich folks who have way too much money and no idea what to do with it. There are a lot of people like that here these days. The land of opportunity is also the land of nouveau riche.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Definitely ovens. Have a disinfecting cabinet in my apartment, actually. Waste of space for me - the last tenants didn't clean it well and it's impossible to clean under the grates, so it's been empty since move in day, and will stay empty till move out day. Most of the oven owners try to get me to come over and show them how to use the oven. So far only one has used it (once) to make egg tarts. The others use it to store dishes.

In Wuhan, too, eh?:off: If you throw a coin out of any window in Hangzhou, you'll almost surely hit a 土豪. I've never seen so many Teslas, Mercedes and BMWs in my life, and almost all driven by kids my age. I also know about a dozen 25 year olds who own two or three homes in a city where the apartments easily go for 50k/sq m. It's pretty annoying for us renters as they're driving the rental costs through the roof. Hangzhou government recently banned 2nd homes for 外地人 and the 高铁 from Shanghai to Hangzhou was totally booked - 6,000 homes sold the evening after they announcement (announcement was to take effect the next morning). A lot of my girlfriend's coworkers keep the 2nd/3rd houses empty for investment (no property taxes), so there's almost none on the market for renters. All the restaurants and such are closing, too. Uuuurgh! If rents were cheaper, I could have more space and buy a 2nd fermenting bucket! Time to move to Yunnan or Guizhou:ban::ban:
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
The reason the housing bubble is probably never going to burst here is because real estate is the only safe investment in this country. From the time my wife and I decided to buy an apartment to the time we managed to put in a down payment on one, the market shot up 50%. Mind you, we were trying to buy the whole time (about ten months), but most new developments were doing lotteries with 5-10 prospective buyers for every apartment going up for sale, and pre-owned apartments were selling well over market value because 'market value' was increasing so rapidly. It slowed down around the time we finally got our foot in the door with a new development, but in the eight months since we bought the apartment (which hadn't broken ground at the time and won't actually be handed over to us until March 2019) it's already worth about 10% more than we paid.

If I had bought when I moved here, I'd be up something like 6-8x the investment. Even at those prices, home ownership was out of reach of many common people and we had just learned the lesson of the 2007 recession back home, so I thought even those prices constituted a bubble. If missed opportunities were worth mourning, I'd cry myself to sleep every night between Wuhan real estate and first hearing about Bitcoin when it was just a few months old.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Indeed! Though they're really trying to put the stop on the market here - G20 made a lot of people very rich, but the government is trying just about every trick in the book to pull the prices down. Limits on waidi ren, limits on 3rd homes for bendi hukou, now they're talking about a property tax etc. Doesn't seem to be doing much to slow down the market. This has spawned a saying among some of the language students here: "If you can learn the vocabulary and grammar to talk about real estate and marriage, you can handle 98% of Chinese conversations."

Back to beer, do you just buy your yeasts off Taobao? I already got mine for this batch, but I'm seeing mostly Mangrove Jack or Safale 05 on the stores while browsing, and the thread on Mangrove Jack doesn't seem to endorse much more than a few kinds of it (the wit and Belgian). I also seem to recall reading you saying somewhere (in this thread or another - I've been obsessively reading the forums for a week so forget where I saw it) that liquid yeasts are hard/impossible to find.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
Fermentis/Safale, Danstar/Lallemand, and Mangrove Jack's yeasts are all pretty readily available here, and they're all solid brands. Liquid yeast is not worth pursuing here yet. Last I checked, there was one taobao shop selling a few strains, but they were pretty much all redundant with dry strains that you can buy here already. Other than that, I believe there's still a foreign-owned LHBS in Shanghai that sells some liquid strains, but we're talking north of 200 kuai per vial. Best not to bother even thinking about liquid yeast for the first year or two at least.
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
Haha, got it. Brewed last weekend - looking forward to see how it turns out. Lots of things went wrong, but we'll see! The aquarium pump didn't work, so would not suggest it for future brewers:oops: Other hand pump that came with the bucket worked pretty well, but I'm worried about whether it was totally sanitized. My stove (like most in China) is pretty freaking powerful compared to a western one, but I was also disappointed in its ability to boil - 6 gallons of wort was at more of a low boil than a rolling boil.

I had also bought what I thought was a hydrometer (糖度计), but was baffled by the readings: "5" pre boil, "10" post boil; thought it was .05, but the 10 was baffling - .010 or .10 gravity? So I contacted the seller and finally figured out it wasn't a hydrometer at all (not 比重计, just 糖度计). Found another seller with them going for 9kuai, and they mark it as a 糖度计 AND 比重计. Still confused about the difference.

On another note, going to hold off on buying any more Chinese craft beers for awhile. I don't think I've ever dumped a beer before, but I was unable to finish two Shangri-La's and one Gao. BLAH. I'm pretty disappointed in the Shangri-La. None of the Gaos thrilled me, but had one Shangri-La that was quite good. Then had a doppelbock that tasted like overripe fruit and am now drinking a lager that tastes (and smells) like raw wort.
 
OP
FatDragon

FatDragon

Not actually a dragon.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2013
Messages
2,499
Reaction score
990
Location
Wuhan, China
A lot of hydrometers here are in degrees Plato, which is roughly 1 degree Plato to 4 points SG, so 10 would be roughly 1.040. Some hydrometers print somewhat misleading information on them, such as ABV% or "finished" indicators that are intended to reflect the numbers in an average brew but are only good for estimates. That's all to say that yours might be perfectly okay if you know how to read it and what information to ignore.

I got a plug-in heating coil for something like 15-20 kuai that I sometimes use to help my stove reach the boil faster. Last brewday I forgot to unplug it when the boil started and I had wort spitting up out of the kettle above the coil until I got it unplugged. That said, a low boil is fine. If there's motion on the surface of the boiling wort, it's definitely going well enough. If you get one of those coils, be aware that mine seems to electrify the liquid it's boiling, as I've been lightly shocked by touching the kettle while it's been plugged in. For lack of any electrical measuring equipment and a preference not to get shocked again testing it the old fashioned way, I don't touch the kettle or anything metal that's touching it or the wort while the coil is plugged in.

If the beers you've bought are that bad, you might cook with them. I've made a couple stinkers before that went off surprisingly well in a big pot of chili or a loaf of beer bread.

Anyway, congrats on your first brewday and welcome to Chinese homebrewing! What was the virgin brew, by the way?
 

Ke_Liren

Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
23
Reaction score
15
Location
Hangzhou, China
If you get one of those coils, be aware that mine seems to electrify the liquid it's boiling, as I've been lightly shocked by touching the kettle while it's been plugged in
That sounds fun! :ban:

Cheers for the info about the hydrometers, but then my beer might really have issues! If it's 1.040, I was off from my OG by a lot (supposed to be 1.057). If it is Plato, then pre-boil was 1.020. I'll check it with the new hydrometer in a little bit - just waiting on a wine thief. The only thing on mine is "5, 10, 15, 20, 25."

Finished 'em all off. I kept having hope for them. I'm not sure which Shangri-La I had that I liked, but it was pretty damn tasty. The rest... Will keep your advice in mind for next time!

Anyway, congrats on your first brewday and welcome to Chinese homebrewing! What was the virgin brew, by the way?
Cheers! It was a lot of fun and everything went wrong. For example, I had a minor panic when I realized my grinder didn't fit any tables or counters in the entire house, but we have one of those tiny stools that the aunties and shushus like to sit on while outside and it fit that. :rolleyes: I was also rather astonished at the weight of the bag of grains (BIAB) and the amount of liquid pouring out of it. I had to stand over my pot with the grain bag for 20-30 minutes. Our airbnb guest thought that was rather comical.

My first brew was BierMuncher's Belgian Blond SWMBO Slayer. I figured it would help my girlfriend cope with the influx of brewing equipment if I made the first beer for her. It worked :rock::rock:
 
Last edited:
Top