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 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.