There are a few things you need to know if you have anything more than a passing interest.

  • Beer in Chinese is written 啤酒 and referred to as "pijiu" (in pinyin) and pronounced something like "pee jee oh"
  • Most Chinese beer is in the American Lager style and uses rice as a filler.  Beers like Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon (two of the finest beers in the US) also use rice.  If you positively detest the concept of rice as a filler, you pretty much have to buy Becks, which is brewed in China under the strict German brewing rules.
  • Most Chinese beer quotes alcohol content by weight (often shown as m/m).  Most other countries seem to use by volume (v/v) and I have adopted the "by volume" unit.  I have used a standard factor of 1.25 to convert alcohol by weight to alcohol by volume.  You can argue other figures if you like, but I would bet most Chinese beer in my list are rough guesses of alcohol % at best.  Figures of "3.5 to 4.5%" hardly inspire confidence.
  • Chinese beers tend to prefer the Specific Gravity measure figure over alcohol % anyway.  The typical choices seem to be 10, 11 and 12º (degrees).  But these figures are only a rough guide.  For example, Heineken quotes alcohol at 5% by volume and 11.5º SG.  While Yinpu Black Beer quotes 4.2% by mass and 14º SG.  There are many 10º SG beers and I would classify them all as light beers.
  • Typical beer ingredients are :
Ingredient Han Yu Pinyin Pronounce
water shui shway
malt 麦芽 mai ya my ya
hops 啤酒花 pijiu hua pee jee oh hwar
(literally beer flower)
rice 大米 (da)mi (da) me
alcohol jiu jee oh
barley 大麦(粒) da mai (li)

da my (lee