Tsingtao Brewery Co. Ltd. is China’s second largest brewery, with about 15% of domestic market share. It was founded in 1903 by German settlers in Qingdao, Shandong province. Its logo displays an image of Zhanqiao, a pier on Qingdao’s southern shore.
Tsingtao Beer, a well-hopped standard pale lager of 4.7% abv, is the flagship brew, accounting for most of the brewery’s production. An unpasteurised version is sold as Tsingtao Draft Beer. Tsingtao Beer was long advertised as being “brewed with mineral water from the Laoshan Spring”, which contributed to its characteristic flavor, but that now applies only to beer produced in Qingdao, and not to that produced in the company’s other breweries.
Originally, Tsingtao Beer was brewed in accordance with the German Reinheitsgebot (“Purity Law”) of 1516. Therefore, the only ingredients used were water, barley, and hops. However, the recipe changed after privatization; like many other beers made in China, Tsingtao Beer contains a proportion of the less-expensive rice as an adjunct in the mash.
The brewery also produces a number of other beers, mostly for the local market. Those sometimes found outside China include Tsingtao Dark Beer (5.2% abv), and more rarely Tsingtao Spirulina Green Beer, also sold as Tsingtao Green Beer, a 4.5% abv green-coloured pilsner containing spirulina as an additive, and claimed to promote good health. The alcohol content of export versions may vary slightly from those for the domestic market.
Locals typically buy this famed draft brew in branded plastic bags that they then hang under street-side tables or carry it back to home. This specific phenomenon known as the “beer takeaway”. Buying Tsingtao beer this way is even more popular than buying it by the bottle.