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Chinese Snow Beer

by David Friesen
(Beer Delegate, China)

Chinese Snow Beer: more sold per year than Budweiser. Now isn't THAT scary?!

Chinese Snow Beer: more sold per year than Budweiser. Now isn't THAT scary?!

Chinese Snow Beer is my first Chinese beer review for you all. It's been a hard decision to choose which beer to write about, but I thought I would go for the one that I drink the most here in China. It might not be the best (I haven't yet tried all the beers here, although it is my goal!) but it does have its advantages.

Well, one main advantage – my local shop will deliver me entire crates of the stuff (that's 24 x 600ml bottles!) for just 33rmb. That's about £2.20 a crate (or $5 US).

The beer in question is called Xue Hua, with literally means "snow flower", hence why the beer is also referred to as Chinese Snow Beer. Haven't heard of Snow Beer before? It's brewed by China Resources and SABMiller in a joint venture and is now the biggest beer in the world, in terms of volume produced. Continues below

It may not be the market leader, as it is limited to only a few provinces in China, but they still sold a staggering 21 million hectolitres last year. I don’t even know what a hectolitre is, but it sounds very large.

Anyway, Chinese Snow Beer is getting more and more popular and where I live in Beijing it is definitely one of the most sought-after brands, along with Tsingtao and Yanjing.

But what does it taste like? Well, like many Chinese lager beers, it isn't what you would call 'world class', but it is certainly better than some.

It is has quite a dry, hoppy smell when you open the bottle, which like many Chinese beers is a massive 600ml size. You can get the beer in cans as well, but why bother when you can have 600ml bottles! In terms of taste, it is not too bitter, but definitely has a stronger hop flavour than many Chinese beers.

This is probably due to the fact it has less formaldehyde in it than some of the lesser brands. Yes, they still put the equivalent of embalming fluid in Chinese beer, but not as much as they used to.

Chinese Snow Beer is also brewed stronger than some of the other Chinese beers, with strength of 11.8 degrees Plato – which to you and me is about 4.7% ABV. Not bad for a lager and much better than some of the weaker Asian beers.

It is not the best lager I have had, nor is it the best beer in China at all, but for an everyday drinking beer it is OK. With the extra strength and flavour it is preferable to many others. Plus, it has another great feature: the bottle caps.

On the underside of the caps is often some Chinese writing. This writing is always great to see, because it means that bottle cap is worth 1/3 or even 1 whole FREE beer! Yes, so for every crate you drink you can get back about 1/3 of it in FREE beers!

It might not be a beautifully crafted German or Belgian beer, but I have a certain affinity for Chinese Snow Beer. In a market of average lager beers, it stands above the norm.

Comments for Chinese Snow Beer

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Aug 04, 2014
by: Anonymous

Snow Beer coming to Fiji

Oct 23, 2012
Where in NYC?



Oct 21, 2012
by: consultant china

Snow beer of China is now a world famous brand. Despite its popularity among the common public, it is now trying to build up its brand image as an middle and high-end one. This is an article I wrote about China resources enterprise in alcoholic drinks.
Hope you can read it and we may exchange ideas.

Oct 25, 2011
by: Anonymous

£2.20 a crate waoooh!!!!

Oct 12, 2011
Chinese Beer
by: Kevin

I know of a couple breweries in China that never used chemicals liek that mentioned.

In the south is the leading beer, Zhujiang Beer. Zhujiang Brewery has never used any thing like that. They are influenced by the European group Inbev and have high standards.

I know Yanjing used a lot of that preservative. Not sure about Snow or Kingway or Harbin. I know Tsingtao never did.

Stick too Zhujiang Beer and Tsingtao Beer!

Sep 23, 2011
Pure bollocks
by: Anonymous

There is no formaldehyde in Chinese beer. Some brewers were using trace amounts of it for preserving the beer but that since has been made illegal.

Jan 28, 2011
Chinese Beer
by: Anonymous

Only Yanjing Beer used formaldehyde as a preserving agent. Yanjing Beer is from Beijing. The brewery in Beijing said they stopped in 2003 and used less than .050 PPM.

Yanjing is a terrible beer anyhow.

Aug 03, 2010
Decent Brew - Fine Character
by: Slater

There is more to beer than meets the eye or can be measured. SNOW beer contains the essence of China. To drink it is to sit in a small crowded cafe on a hot summer day and feel the soul of China slip cooly down your throat. After two months in China, this is my favorite. Cheers!

May 26, 2010
Great Beer
by: Anonymous

I spent a month in China a couple of years ago and all I drank was snow. Its about only one of a few beers that tastes the same hot or cold. I love the stuff. If I could import it into Australia I would. Bloody good bevy.

Apr 19, 2010
On it.
by: K-Rad

I think the second poster needs to decide on his opinion.. which is it?

First you say there is no formaldehyde added at all and that it'd be crazy to say there is.. then you, in the same sentence, say that there is but it is well under acceptable PPM (who's acceptable limits?) then you say, it doesn't matter, your customers people will pick it up.

After 3.5 years in China I can tell you, the beer often does have formaldehyde, though it is explained in different ways. Some claim it is a dodgy preservative, others say it is to avoid protein dumping, etc, etc. In the end, you can taste it and it's terrible. Part of this will be due to the recycling of beer bottles, not to be crushed and re-blown, but to be washed and recapped.

Also, whether it is Xuehua, Qingdao, Huang He, Haerbin, Shan Cheng, or whatever, they're all the same. Low in flavour and alcohol, high in dubiousness!

Chinese beer is novel to people who come from places with good quality, tasty beer. It is light, easy to drink, not so fizzy and relatively flavourless, so in the head of summer, or just in general it is possible to pound them down easily, and not necessarily cold, as another person mentioned. However, the novelty wears off and in the end, the beer is pretty awful.

Dec 03, 2009
by: Anonymous

Almost ALL Chinese beers have Formaldehyde in them because they use poor quality malt. That`s why when you drink too much you suffer from the worst headache ever.

Nov 30, 2009
Formaldehyde in Chinese
by: Anonymous

Complete nonsense that this is put into beer.

Yes there was use of this chemical but it was well below PPM of toxicity and did not register as such. It is an agent used to prevent protein clumping and it is banned and not used in the industry. Anyhow if you live in any western country all import beers are tested and would not be allowed if there were any questions raised regarding this or any other chemcial.

The Chinese make some great and very interesting beer. Many are beyond the regular lagers we normally see on shelves.

Many of these Chinese breweries operate with cooperation from European groups or American groups.SAB/Miller or Inbev for example.

Nov 19, 2009
by: A Coaster

The Chinese have taken a drink that should be totally organic and turned it into a poison.

Nov 14, 2009
by: Joe R.

That's amazing that you could find the 11.8P version. I've only ever seen the 7P version, which is practically formalde-water. Awful, awful stuff. If I ever find the 11.8 version I'll try it.

Oct 31, 2009
Its Good Beer
by: Anonymous

Last summer I spent two months in china and I found Snow Beer to be wonderful. Often In China people drink their beer and soda warm and believe it or not Snow Beer was even good warm. I have yet to find another beer that i can say that about. I also found it to be one of the best beers in china, or even that i could get in china. Having seen many other internationally exported beers in the stores there.

Sep 09, 2009
Snow Beer
by: Texinchina

Snow is one of the worst beers ever. In America, I never drink bud because I would hate to gag. In China I refuse to drink Snow for the same reason.

Snow not only tastes chemically (as most Chinese beers do) but has a slight hint of formaldehyde which makes me wish I had never opened the beer.

I hope to read other review though.

Aug 19, 2009
Chinese Beer
by: Anonymous

try TsingTao Beer

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