If you go into a Chinese restaurant anywhere in the world and order a beer and you know what you’re going to get - Tsing Tao - it says on the bottle imported from China.
Tsing Tao is made here in the city of Qingdao, but for the locals, they buy their beer not necessarily in bottles or cans. They have a unique way of picking up their favorite beverage.
It’s the plastic bag!
A passerby tries a bag of beer. /CGTN Photo
Beer in a plastic bag
I met beer seller Wang Zhicai who reckons he sells eight to thirteen barrels of beer a day here on Fushan Road just outside of the city center.
“People have been getting beer in plastic bags here for a long time it is convenient and easy,” said Wang.
Now, this is where the story gets a little complicated. We were told that the locals not only buy their beer in bags, but they drink it from bags as well. Now, I don’t know how they might do that short of sticking their head in and sucking it up, or maybe cutting a hole in the bag and drinking the beer through the end. We were told that the locals buy their beer in bags, but they take it home and drink it from glasses or cups just like anybody else. I turned to Mr. Wang for the definitive answer.
“They take the bag home, find a cup, put the beer in and then drink,” he replied.
It is another way to enjoy the beer in Qingdao. /VCG Photo
Smart new bags
Sun Lin has run the nearby “Tsingtao 1903” bar in the pretty neighborhood of Beautiful Lake, Light Mountain for the past three months.
He showed me another way locals can extract beer from plastic bags by puncturing a hole in the side and pouring it out.
Inside the bar, Sun Lin gives me his take on the beer in a bag custom.
“People have been drinking beer from plastic bags for 30 years in Qingdao, it just came about naturally, no one knows how or why it started exactly.”
At Mr. Sun’s bar, they sell beer in swish new plastic bags which are more environmentally friendly and have a pouring spout and a smart logo on the side.
War on plastic
But with plastic clogging up our oceans and beaches does he think the current United Nations-led, “war on plastic” will mean buying beer this way is doomed.
“People will not accept giving up beer bags. They’ve been using them since their parents’ time. It’s such a part of their lives, and I don’t think beer bags are going away anytime soon,” Sun added.