Recommendation for a beer portfolio in a microbrewery?

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hongqing.ma

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I just started running a small craft beer bar in Suzhou, China. I currently prepared 3 types of craft beers in the bar: IPA, Wheat beer, Honey ale. My idea is to offer more type of craft beers to meet the requirements of different people. I would like to get some ideas from the masters in the forum.
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AJinJacksonville

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Man oh man. That is sweet! I am no expert by any means, but you could go crazy with ideas on this one. I'd definitely recommend adding a brown ale to the list. Looks like a cool setup you have there.
 

Gadjobrinus

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I would urge you to find out what people like. Now. Not to be a jerk, but not sure why you didn't investigate this well before even raising money?
 

Gadjobrinus

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This is from a former French chef who took a leap in the upper midwest, soared spectacularly for about a year (made the Chicago Tribune), and ... took a massive face plant. Due diligence, market studies, real due diligence (not "we've been waiting so long for someone like you two to come along" from area financiers), market studies, marketing, did I say market studies? Marketing? And enough dough to exist for a few years, regardless of how bad it gets?
 

AJinJacksonville

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Every time I watch Kitchen Nightmares I think of how the best of intentions, talent, etc., can sometimes mean nothing if the market is not there. I get it.

Who knows. The craft brew market in China might be a completely different beast that defies logic.
 

jrgtr42

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I would suggest seeing what you clientele want. It wouldn;t help if you had Imperial Stouts if your customers are looking for Bud Light (or equivalent) and vice versa.
Once you have a handle on that, you can try spreading out and trying different things, especially if you have a pilot system or a fairly small brew rig.
 
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hongqing.ma

hongqing.ma

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Thanks for the reply! I did some investigation but not systematic. Craft beer market in China is just upswing now. People are tired of the existing bottled beers from the major players in the market, Microbrewery become more and more popular for new generations. I think China will follow the history in Europe and America. But definitely some special needs. Currently the interesting things are young people prefer Wheat beers with pleasant taste and smell. The original liquor drinkers tend to drink more IPA.
 

day_trippr

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Can't resist: brew up a juicy New England Ale*
It's been the rage in the USA for awhile and has smoked more traditional IPAs and even pale ales, and it might fly in Suzhou :)

Cheers!

[* Aka NEIPA]
 
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hongqing.ma

hongqing.ma

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Can't resist: brew up a juicy New England Ale*
It's been the rage in the USA for awhile and has smoked more traditional IPAs and even pale ales, and it might fly in Suzhou :)

Cheers!

[* Aka NEIPA]
Good idea! What would be your recommended recipe for the typical new England ale?
 

day_trippr

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An interesting question :)
It doesn't have to use Citra, of course, as there are so many excellent juicy hop strains now available.
In any case, one might witness true excitement if the style has not been tried in that region.
Or it could be solidly thumbed down - which would be interesting in itself, given what otherwise appears to have been enthusiastic reception pretty much everywhere.

Almost makes me want to be there if the OP cooks up a batch :)

Cheers!
 
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hongqing.ma

hongqing.ma

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I wonder how common the "Citra tastes like cat pee and I hate it" gene is in China?
Citra is quite popular used for craft brewed IPA in China. I also use Citra for my current IPA brewing. Most of the people like the fruit smell of Citra.
 

day_trippr

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Awesome! If the neipa style has not yet been tried in your area you could see something crazy cool happen :)

Cheers!
 
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hongqing.ma

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Awesome! If the neipa style has not yet been tried in your area you could see something crazy cool happen :)

Cheers!
Sorry, Could you explain me what " neipa style" means! I'm not familiar with the wording here.
 

Qhrumphf

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If craft beer is in its early days, I'd suggest the old school broad "cover the bases" brewpub lineup:

1. Un-aggressive approachable beer. Blonde Ale, Kolsch, pale lager, Cream Ale, etc.

2. Amber Ale. Something with more character but decidedly malt-forward, still not overly aggressive.

3. Pale Ale and/or IPA.

4. Dark beer. Porter or Stout. Moderate strength, nothing crazy. I'd go Irish Stout (potentially Export), Oatmeal Stout, or London-style Porter. Potentially a Brown Ale could work too.

5. Wheat Beer. Either German Hefe, Belgian Wit, or American Wheat. Latter could overlap with #1.

6. Belgian would be a good bet. Could overlap with #5 too. Saison, Belgian Blond, Golden Strong

7. Rotator. Feel free to go crazy and try different things. Dark lagers. Strong beers. Sours. Etc.

In my international travels, places where either craft beer culture is new, or doesn't already have it's own history, this model still works well.

As the craft market matures and craft drinkers mature with it, you'll likely have to dump this kind of thinking for the shiny new trendy thing all the time model that is now the norm in the US.

That said, this is a forum for homebrewers, so keep that in mind.
 

phatbeetle

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Loving the craft beer scene in China these days. Really untapped market and exploding! I have been to several different breweries around China and the most popular kinds of beers are American Pale Ales, Hoppy IPAs, Stouts, and English Ale styles. At any rate, make good beer and they will come! Good luck, hopefully will come visit you when I can finally get back into China.
 
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hongqing.ma

hongqing.ma

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Loving the craft beer scene in China these days. Really untapped market and exploding! I have been to several different breweries around China and the most popular kinds of beers are American Pale Ales, Hoppy IPAs, Stouts, and English Ale styles. At any rate, make good beer and they will come! Good luck, hopefully will come visit you when I can finally get back into China.
Welcome to my pub once you come to China again after this special days !
 

doogie

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Sorry, Could you explain me what " neipa style" means! I'm not familiar with the wording here.
NEIPA stands for New England or North East IPA - The term IPA was used because it's so popular. These beers use even more hops than a traditional IPA, but not in the boil but rather in whirlpool and dry hopping. These beers should have an aroma that hits you before the glass gets to your lips. The IBUs tend to be very low, and the massive amount of hop oils causes the beer to be hazy. There is a very long and good thread on how to brew these tricky beasts. Note: They are very prone to oxidation, so good process is key.
 
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hongqing.ma

hongqing.ma

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NEIPA stands for New England or North East IPA - The term IPA was used because it's so popular. These beers use even more hops than a traditional IPA, but not in the boil but rather in whirlpool and dry hopping. These beers should have an aroma that hits you before the glass gets to your lips. The IBUs tend to be very low, and the massive amount of hop oils causes the beer to be hazy. There is a very long and good thread on how to brew these tricky beasts. Note: They are very prone to oxidation, so good process is key.
Thanks a lot for your explanation! This is really new for me !
 

DannyBoy270

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Brilliant! How do you manage to differentiate so many IPAs ?
Varying hops & alcohol levels. In addition to a standard flagship IPA many places now also do Double or Imperial IPAs, session IPAs (especially good for the summer), and Milkshake IPAs (added lactose). A lot of places try to focus on specific fruit or spice flavors as well.
 

YeastFeast

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A local guy started the first micro brew in Aruba just over a year ago. Before his first year was up, all he serves now is Hazy IPAs! He usually has 2-3 different hopped ones on tap at any one time. He doesn’t brew anything else because thats all that sells!
 

bwible

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Do you know of any other successful brewpubs where you are? If so, try to find out what they are selling. If you already know that wheat beer will be popular, then certainly have that. Try to appeal to a range of different people.

If craft beer is in its early days, I'd suggest the old school broad "cover the bases" brewpub lineup:

1. Un-aggressive approachable beer. Blonde Ale, Kolsch, pale lager, Cream Ale, etc.

2. Amber Ale. Something with more character but decidedly malt-forward, still not overly aggressive.

3. Pale Ale and/or IPA.

4. Dark beer. Porter or Stout. Moderate strength, nothing crazy. I'd go Irish Stout (potentially Export), Oatmeal Stout, or London-style Porter. Potentially a Brown Ale could work too.

5. Wheat Beer. Either German Hefe, Belgian Wit, or American Wheat. Latter could overlap with #1.

6. Belgian would be a good bet. Could overlap with #5 too. Saison, Belgian Blond, Golden Strong

7. Rotator. Feel free to go crazy and try different things. Dark lagers. Strong beers. Sours. Etc.

In my international travels, places where either craft beer culture is new, or doesn't already have it's own history, this model still works well.

As the craft market matures and craft drinkers mature with it, you'll likely have to dump this kind of thinking for the shiny new trendy thing all the time model that is now the norm in the US.

That said, this is a forum for homebrewers, so keep that in mind.
This is great advice. Wheat beer, blonde ale, pale ale, IPA, and dark beer such as porter or stout makes a pretty good start. You know wheat beer is popular, blonde ale or light ale for the lager drinkers, pale ale and IPA are your hoppy beers at different alcohol and hop levels, dark beer for those who enjoy dark beers.

Amber ale to me is more seasonal. Its often a beer that is more popular here in autumn or fall season and we get amber ales that are seasonal releases.

Belgian beers can be a love/hate thing. Some people love them and others hate them. Belgian yeasts are wild yeasts and many have built in spoilage organisms. In a commercial setting you also run the risk of contaminating your other beers when you brew Belgians, especially if you don’t brew on seperate equipment.

A free/rotating tap is also a great idea

I am in the US and I don’t claim to know or understand anything about beer preferenes in China.

Wishing you success
 
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bwible

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This is from a former French chef who took a leap in the upper midwest, soared spectacularly for about a year (made the Chicago Tribune), and ... took a massive face plant. Due diligence, market studies, real due diligence (not "we've been waiting so long for someone like you two to come along" from area financiers), market studies, marketing, did I say market studies? Marketing? And enough dough to exist for a few years, regardless of how bad it gets?
I have a collection of pint glasses from local area breweries and brewpubs over the last 20 years or so. 15 glasses in my collection and 9 of them no longer exist.
 

bwible

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Every time I watch Kitchen Nightmares I think of how the best of intentions, talent, etc., can sometimes mean nothing if the market is not there. I get it.

Who knows. The craft brew market in China might be a completely different beast that defies logic.
I love Bar Rescue
 

acrowe

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I don't know much about the business side of beer, and making money as a brewer mostly requires successful marketing, sales and managing the finances. Brewing good beer helps but it isn't the only thing. One of the most successful craft breweries in Manitoba Canada where I lived and taught was Farmery Brewing. They were all marketing for several years. They marketed good but contract brewed beers in styles they thought could be popular in the Manitoba market. They now do a lot of their own brewing and do a farm estate beer with hops and barley they produce on their farm.
I do know China is really taking off for beer right now and their demand for brewing barley is now skewing world markets. Apparently because of a trade war with Australia they have begun to source so much from Canada that it is beginning to affect meat prices as barley that doesn't sell as malting barley is feed barley (they are different grades ).
I don't know the Chinese market but my guess is its influenced by US and European trends. I would be sure to have some of the Hazy IPA and such that are popular as well as other fruit and sours that are very appealing to those that are not already beer drinkers.
Good Luck I think that would be fun
 

OldDogBrewing

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I just started running a small craft beer bar in Suzhou, China. I currently prepared 3 types of craft beers in the bar: IPA, Wheat beer, Honey ale. My idea is to offer more type of craft beers to meet the requirements of different people. I would like to get some ideas from the masters in the forum. View attachment 688769
Check what is trendy at Untappd in your area or what are other breweries doing, markets are quite different from country to country so you need to know your market and maybe brew new stuff occasionally and see if people likes it


Btw, the bar looks cool for what I can see
 

mrdauber64

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In my opinion you need to have at least one dark beer(Stout or Porter). My wife will not go into a taproom/brewery unless they have at least one dark beer on tap.
 

OldDogBrewing

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In my opinion you need to have at least one dark beer(Stout or Porter). My wife will not go into a taproom/brewery unless they have at least one dark beer on tap.
+1, any brewery needs something dark for those people that enjoy dark beers, a friend of mine got into craft because he enjoyed Guinness, so he started to discover craft beers through stouts, I'm sure there's plenty of people who loves Guinness in China, it might be their door to craft beer
 

InspectorJon

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As others have said, try to find out what people want and sell that. Business based on a dream of "I really want people to like this thing I want to make" rarely succeeds. I have been to Asia many times but not mainland China. Every place I have been seems to have a stout so that seems obvious.

If you want to try a NEIPA there is a huge thread here - Northeast" style IPA which will get you familiar with the style and methods. It is a difficult style to do well so start with small batches if you want to go that direction. NEIAP has been wildly popular and made brewers a lot of money. I'm guessing that is why you are in business so don't take the haters too seriously. There are plenty of people that will say it is a flawed style or improperly named. That is fun stuff to debate but if you are in business, follow the money.
 

bkboiler

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I found it really interesting in the recent craft beer boom in America, for several bigger craft brands, they hedged on both sides of people getting tired of beer.
Ballast Point as a for instance, after 10 years or so they started distilling while also doing lighter lagers and session ales.
 

day_trippr

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I think diversity is the key to large brewery survival, never mind growth. The era of a brewery growing on a single product is over...

Cheers!
 

@RoyalGallon

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Just before lockdown we were arranging a large scale brewing competition in our local Homebrew club (WEHomebrew.club) the format was brew one beer from the 9 boxes in the pic below and once someone had picked one it was gone.

I always thought it’d make a good menu for a brewpub.
83476ED6-DDF8-4D0E-A43F-3EB62D41ED4D.jpeg
 
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