Qingdao International Beer Festival
Co-sponsored by various state ministries and state commissions - and also by the local government of the city of Qingdao - the Qingdao International Beer Festival was launched in the year 1991, in celebration of the city's 100th birthday. Since then, the Qingdao International Beer Festival has blossomed into a festive event that ignites the imagination of the city of Qingdao each year, and which attracts both beer lovers and beer manufacturers from near and far, including from the rest of China (Qingdao's own German-origin Tsingdao Beer is also represented at the festival, and - not to forget - Beijing Beer).
Qingdao International Beer Festival
Participating international breweries include Denmark's Carlsberg (from the 'probably the best beer in the world' advertising campaign), Britain's Guinness (probably the darkest - and thickest - beer in the world), the U.S.'s Budweiser (probably the most heavily advertised beer in the world), and of course a number of German beers (German Pilsner is probably the youngest variety of beer, or beer type, in the world, Bavaria showed the world that beer can be made of wheat, not just barley, and Germany's Bock beer is probably the epitome of dark malt beer the world over).
Participating beer drinkers include... well, probably just about everybody! In advance of the annual festival, the city begins to gear up for the excitement, and for the large swath of humanity that will descend upon the city to celebrate the alcoholic beverage that is the most widely consumed on the planet, and which has the most ardent supporters of any such beverage.* As can be expected, the official celebrations are accompanied by music, most notably, the din of drums punctuated by the blaring sound of trumpets, but in the city's many bars and night clubs, all manner of music genres can be enjoyed, from rhythmic rock to cool jazz. The official celebrations also include parades made up of marching bands, of ethnic dancing troupes, of special floats festooned with flags, baloons and garlands - and of course, adorned with beautiful "beer queens".
The Qingdao International Beer Festival unfurls in a carnival atmosphere devoted to one single purpose: the celebration of the salutary properties of beer. Yet there is a more serious side to the festival: it serves to promote cultural understanding and international unity on a broader level (the things we have in common outweigh the differences), and it fosters ties of friendship as well as business partnerships on a more individual level.
While in Qingdao to enjoy the annual beer festival, the unfamiliar visitor should take a look around this unique city, nicknamed "Green Island", though it is not located on an island (it might equally as well have been nicknamed "Green Oasis"); the nickname refers to the city's laid-back, tolerant, pleasure-seeking atmosphere, which is more characteristic of a resort island. But Qingdao does indeed lie on the shores of the sea, and thus has plenty of clean beaches. It is also characterized by its European architecture and - not to forget - its local "European" beer, Tsingdao Beer, which was founded by German settlers in 1903, during the "Concessions" period of China's late 19th century - early 20th century history. Tsingdao beer enjoys a 15% share of the domestic Chinese market alone (besides its sales abroad) - an enviable position for any brewery.
* Probably the most poignant, most undying admiration for the salutary properties of beer in general is summed up in the message written on a bronze plaque in a small, northern California town in honor of a now-defunct beer, Boca Beer. Its paraphrased message reads: "Since time immemorial, it has mercifully slaked the thirst of a grateful mankind."