It’s said that the first recorded recipe in human history was for a beer-like beverage. Some anthropologists suggest that the reason our ancestors gave up the relatively easy hunter-gatherer lifestyle in favor of an agricultural one was to allow time for alcohol to ferment.
Regardless of how true these “facts” may be, beer is pretty damned integral part of human history. That’s something I like to remind myself of when I’m scrubbing my fermenter for what seems like the thousandth time.
I am a home brewer. My fingers are stained with santizer and my fridge reeks of hops. Pretty much any spare storage space in my house is packed with brewing equipment and ingredients. I cringe at the sight of people putting cigarette butts into bottles, wondering how they can sully such a perfectly good longneck. I do, indeed, have a beard.
A certain historical figure might have turned water into wine, but I turn water, grain, hops and yeast into delicious ales on the regular. And you can too.
The best thing about brewing beer is that it’s way, way easier than people would have you believe. If you can follow a recipe and get your hands on about 400 RMB worth of equipment, you’re good to go. Best yet, it’s now easier and cheaper than ever to do it right here in Ningbo, thanks to people like Eddy Dong, who runs his own homebrew supply shop out of Shenyang, Liaoning province with his wife. Here’s a link to that shop.
Ningbo Guide got the chance to interview Eddy last month about his operation. Here’s what
NG: Tell us about yourself, Eddy.
ED: I love brewing and home brewing, first time I get to know about home brewing was in 2012. My main job is IT.
NG: Tell us a little about your business.
ED: Me and my wife own a bar in Shenyang and we created our own brand “Duo Jie Home Brewing Equipment Shop”. Now our shop has become pretty well-known in the homebrewing industry in China. A lot of people buy our ingredients, and some of them bought our tailored ingredient packages (editor’s note: these are kits Eddy will put together for you to make a certain style of beer if you’re not comfortable doing that yourself) and won some pretty prestigious prizes at home brewing competitions.
NG: How did you get started in the homebrew business?
ED: At the beginning, we imported ingredients and equipment from abroad and we brewed our own beer, then we started to import for our friends. After that it was a pretty logical move to open our own shop.
NG: Why do you think homebrew gotten more popular among not just foreigners in China but Chinese people as well?
ED: First of all, a lot of people first tasted the home brewed beer and realized how bad the beers we see at the stores are. Then they started looking for good beers. The imported craft beers are usually pretty expensive, so start brewing their own beer is a better option for them. Use the right ingredients, follow the recipe, it cost less money when you brew your own beer at home and taste great—easily on par with the imported ones. On the other hand, young people find it fun to be creative and make beer in the way they want to make it and are trying many different ways to brew beers.
NG: What advice do you have for people who want to get into brewing beer?
ED: If you have someone to teach you how to brew beer, you are lucky*. If you brew by yourself with no other help, it’s better to read some books, forums, and other related information. Don’t rush to make a decision and start it without knowing about brewing. Join some QQ group, talk to people and ask questions. Buy the necessary equipment all at once so you can avoid ending up buying same equipments twice and waste money on it. Invite your friends to join you when you start brewing, share your experience (and beer) with your friends so that you have people to help you keep up the habit!
NG: What do you see in the future of craft beer in China?
ED: In recent years the craft beer culture is developing very fast. Many people start brewing at home, and you’re starting to see many craft beer associations popping up. There has been a craft beer brewing contest every year for the last three years. Also, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Wuhan, Chengdu, Nanjing, people opened many craft beer shops and bars. They sell home brewed beer or imported craft beer, and the decorations of the shops are amazing. On the business side, there aren’t certain clear laws about craft beers yet, so you can expect the craft beer industry to be effected by national law somehow in the future.
While there are plenty of folks online selling everything you need to make a zesty IPA, Eddy combines a huge selection, great prices and relentlessly awesome service (in English!) to be the only guy I go to anymore. Add him on WeChat (QR Code just below) and he’ll make sure you get everything you need to get started right away.
*be on the lookout for a homebrew class starting up soon! We’ll keep you posted.