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  Chinese Way>Custom

Cheers for beers in Qingdao

2014-05-06 10:31:18

(China Daily)


Visitors from home and abroad have fun at the annual Qingdao International Beer Festival. Photos Provided to China Daily

Drinkers raise a glass for festival fun in the home of Tsingtao

If the ocean defines the color of Qingdao as blue, then the beer gives it an amber tint that sparkles all night long.

For the past 111 years, beer has been at the soul of the city and its citizens. In the summer the streets are filled with groups of friends quenching their thirst with a few beers, enjoyed with clams or barbeque.

Unlike other cities, beer drinking is not confined to restaurants and people can be spotted enjoying a relaxing drink at street stands, beer tents, on the beach or in the park.

Visitors should not be surprised to see half-dressed men invite strangers, especially foreigners, to their table for a beer, and yell out ganbei, cheers, to show their hospitality.

The homegrown breweries in town mean locals favor draft beer out of kegs for the freshest taste.

A more unusual preference is that many locals buy beer to take away in a polythene bag, a practice that goes back forty years. It is particularly popular in the long hot summers.

The custom started in the 1970s when those who fancied a quick brew collected it in open bowls. In the 80s, probably after realizing half of the beer was lost in transit, people swapped bowls for glass canisters, normally used to drink tea.

This limited drinkers to half a liter so the next decade people started to use polythene bags, knotted at the top, which have proved enduringly popular to this day.

A particular quirk of the custom is to watch people run home with their cold beer in a bag to stop it getting warm on the way.

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