Every summer during the second weekend of August, the International Beer Festival in Qingdao begins. This two-week festival of delicious brews is both sponsored by the government and holds the honor of being the largest beer festival in all of Asia. It began in 1991, on the 100th anniversary of the city, eventually growing to capture the interest of the city, the surrounding regions and the entire world. Though it’s definitely a promotional event centered on the Qingdao brand, it is also a chance for residents of China and visitors to the country to experience great beer of all sorts.
Today, popular brewers from all over the world are invited to take part in the festival. Germany, the U.S., Britain, Mexico, Japan, Denmark and plenty of others show up to distribute their own variety of suds. This is in addition, of course, to the plethora of domestic Chinese labels that have a presence in the festival.
The festival begins with a grand and elaborate opening ceremony and proceeds right to the beer tasting. Other than the prolific amounts of drinking, there is a huge fireworks show over the sea, multiple parades, public karaoke (for the brave of heart or thoroughly inebriated), stage performances of dance and music and countless other varieties of entertainment, both within the festival and in the city of Qingdao. And since every drinking fest must have food as well, plenty of cuisine of both Asian and Western origins is available.
The undisputed highlight of the festival is the seemingly endless supply of beer to be enjoyed. Remarkably, visitors often get a lot of the beer for free. This bounty of luck might even make the journey worth the price of a plane ticket - depending on how much you can drink, of course.
This year’s festival is currently underway and coming quickly to a close, unfortunately. If you can’t rush over there right now, it’ll always be back next year. The Qingdao International Beer Festival has become an integral part of the city’s culture and it doesn’t look likely to be going away anytime soon.