February 6th, 2008

Toasting Chinese New Year

Tsingtao beer

By Scott N. Howe

Chinese New Year is almost here. For some of us, that means a trip to Chinatown to check out the pageants and dodge the firecrackers. For the rest of us, that means a better-than-average excuse to order some Chinese take-out and throw down a few cold bottles of Tsingtao lager.

As the retro beer trend has taught us, context can trump taste. Grill me a hot dog at a backyard barbeque, and I want a PBR. Order me some greasy fried rice and a carton of crab rangoons at 2:00 a.m. after the bars have closed, and pour me a Tsingtao.

The nice thing about Tsingtao is that it gives you context and taste. It is the number-one imported beer from China, and you can find it in virtually every Chinese restaurant — and for good reason. As the nice folks at Tsingtao assert, “Tsingtao complements spicy or flavorful Asian cuisine.” They’re right. The beer is light, but not bland, malty, but not bready. From my experience, it goes great with high-end, authentically prepared Chinese cuisine, low-end, indifferently prepared take-out, and everything in between.

Crisp, tasty and hard to pronounce, it’s the beer you should be drinking as you celebrate 2008 — the Year of the Rat.

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7 Responses to “Toasting Chinese New Year”

  1. jon from NH

    It wouldn’t be so hard to pronounce if the marketers didn’t insist on using that crazy old British method of transcribing Mandarin sounds – it’s just Ching-Dow. It’s low in formaldehyde too, which is nice for a Chinese beer.

  2. ljclark

    Ha! You enlighten and entertain as usual, Jon.

  3. Washington Cube

    For me, it was creating a cocktail: The Year of the Rat(fink), going to a Chinese market for props like josh sticks and hell notes, and then blogging about it:


  4. sandeep ray

    Is Tiger beer from China? If so/if not how does it compare with Ching-Dow?

  5. MC Slim JB

    Tiger was originally brewed in Singapore, but is now brewed all over Asia. In my experience, it’s most popular in Singapore and Malaysia. The locals in Singapore would try to dissuade me from drinking it, saying “The government adds extra formaldehyde to it to increase your hangover and discourage people from drinking.” I haven’t had one in a few years, but it struck me as a pretty generic weak lager — “Singaporean Bud”, was how I described my first one. Quite different from Tsingtao, which has more of malt liquor character to my palate: I’m a big fan of it for all of the virtues described in Mr. Howe’s post.

  6. Adam

    MC Slim JB: So did you get a killer hangover from the stuff, or is it just urban legend?

  7. MC Slim JB

    Since I was there on business, I wasn’t pouring them down, so I didn’t notice anything. Given the rather paternal character of the government at the time (chewing gum ban, hassling of young men with hair past their collars, harsh littering enforcement, etc.), it wasn’t hard to see how locals might jump to such a conclusion.

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