2.8AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
When we think of China, beer is not usually one of the things that come to mind. But if we must name a Chinese beer, Tsingtao is pretty much the only one most people (connoisseurs included) can name. As is the case with most countries, their most popular beer is a completely generic, uninspired, pale lager.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
This brew pours rather rough to a bright white gold, clear complexion. It’s bristling with carbonation and forms a one-finger, bright white, fizzy head which dissolves quickly and almost completely. The carbonation also calms down rather quickly. The scent is a bit skunky, which isn’t surprising considering the fact it’s packaged in green bottles. Compared to others of the style it’s actually quite subdued, but otherwise there isn’t much worth mentioning since it’s just a typical grainy “beer smell.”
In the United States, certain macro breweries like to market their beers as tasting “crisp” and/or “clean” as if such adjectives were compliments. I would use both to describe the taste of Tsingtao. This is a pale lager, after all, supposedly based on the German pilsner style. Those looking for something distinct in the palate will have a tough time finding anything.
Surprisingly, this beer does not have a rice-like flavor since rice is apparently not used as an adjunct ingredient. The bottle boasts “only the highest quality malted barely, hops, yeast, and pure mountain water…” If this is the highest quality China has to offer, I’d hate to taste what the lesser-quality beers taste like. However, it does have a slightly sweet taste, but it’s extremely faint. Like most lagers of the type, water seems to be the predominant flavor.
With a very soft mouthfeel and a smooth, easy finish, it’s not hard to understand why Tsingtao is such a popular brew. I’ve come to the conclusion that drinkers, en masse, would much prefer a smoother brew to a tasty one.
This beer drinks and tastes like a typical American light lager, and yet it’s a bit heavier at 4.8% ABV and 157 calories per serving. I drank a 22oz bomber bottle very quickly and felt almost no effects whatsoever.
There isn’t much to appreciate about Tsingtao and yet it’s not a beer that’s easy to hate, in fact, my reaction is almost complete indifference. I think it would work fine a session beer, or as a compliment to Chinese food, but otherwise there’s very little here to enjoy.