It’s been years since I tried Tsingtao (also written Tsing Tao), but they were out of Sapporo last night, so I figured, why not? Pleasantly surprised, this crisp Chinese didn’t have the medicinal taste I’d recalled. Rather, it was light, slightly sweet, fragrant, and without a hint of “chemical” aroma. Some reports say that quality was bad in the ’90s due to pollution of the area and pesticides used on the beer’s barley crop.
Tsingtao was actually founded by German settlers in Qingdao, China, where it’s still made (along with other breweries, too). It’s America’s #1 Chinese beer, and the only Chinese beer I’ve had for that matter. According the company, it’s also the #1 “branded consumer product” exported from China. Not sure what that means except that the beer is awfully popular.
My bottle went down quick and easy, leaving me ready for more. A real thirst-quencher of a beer, that sweetness tricks you into drinking it quickly. You could see how you could get into trouble with a six-pack of this stuff.
So, with all the talk of Chinese pollution and product recalls, is Tsingtao safe to drink? Turns out Tsingtao imports all its barley from overseas now, though the hops and water are still local. The company has refuted a formaldehyde contamination scare, as well. I have to assume that domestic watchdogs like the FDA test the beer regularly, too… but maybe I’m just being naive.
Whatever the case: It tastes good… and like all good Chinese products, it’s cheap, too.
A- / $6 per six-pack / tsingtaobeer.com
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