So this is the final beer review of our trip. So far the countries have been ranked for their beer a follows:
Vietnam 8.5 out of 10
Thailand 8 out of 10
Singapore 7 out of 10
Lao PDR 7 out of 10
Cambodia 7 out of 10
Philippines 6 out of 10
Malaysia 6 out of 10
Myanmar 5 out of 10
There have been two particularly surprising aspects to Chinese beer. Firstly it is absolutely acceptable to be served warm beer here. Most local restaurants or hostels will serve you bottled beer straight from the box or shelf. Very odd. It has generally been pretty cold here so we haven't been in such desperate need for an icy cool beer but room temperature lager has taken some getting used to. The other surprising thing is the low alcohol content of all the beer. It is absolutely normal to have lager that is 2.5-3.5% and very difficult to find anything stronger (lager in the UK ranges from 4-5% normally). Unsurprisingly the beer is very ricey and consequently very pale and lacking in flavour. We've mainly been drinking Tsing Tao (the national brand) and various forms of Dali beer (a Yunnan brand). Beers vary wildly in cost from 50p to about £4 with most being about £1.50.
There have been a few nice surprises in China though. In Dali there was a brewpub serving interesting black beer and a nice Belgium-style amber ale. And most exciting of all there was a newly established microbrewery in Shangri-La producing black yak beer, Tibetan pale ale, supernova (a coriander and orange peel flavoured beer only brewed on the full moon) and a slightly sweet barley ale. The little bottles were beautiful and the contents were very tasty indeed.
This one microbrewery has definitely pushed up the China beer score. Though I don't think I can possibly make a comment on the whole of China. We have seen such a small part of it. About a fifth of the population live in South West China, about 250 million people. And we have only been to one of the five provinces of the South West. There is so much more to see.... So anyway, the beer of the Yunnan province, China, gets 7.5 out of 10.