Qingdao (Tsingtao ) International Beer Town
Located on coastal road S212 in the Shilaoren National Tourism Resort in the city of Qingdao, just east of Fushan Bay and about 3 kilometers southeast of Qingdao University, Qingdao International Beer Town is dedicated to showcasing the virtues of beer. Originally founded as a venue for holding the annual Tsingtao Beer Festival (note that the Colonial Era name for Qingdao was Tsingtao, and since the beer stems from that era (Tsingtao Beer is a German pilsener that was originally developed and brewed by the German occupiers of Qingdao during the 19th century Unequal Treaties period), it has preserved its original name), the beer town has become a year round fixture where beers from all over the world can be enjoyed.
Qingdao International Beer Town has developed into a theme park, now in its 6th season, with over 30 international-class recreational facilities spread out over 33 hectares (80 acres) of land, making the beer town an interesting and refreshing (also quite literally) place to spend a day discovering the infinite diversity of pilsener, lager, ale - or just plain ol' beer.
There are over 20 rides for the visitor's diversion, including the mandatory roller coaster, there are a number of theaters presenting films and documentaries related to the art and science of brewing beer - and of course the art & art of enjoying beer! - and there are beer tasting events and beer trivia contests where one can show off one's knowledge, and maybe learn a thing or two in the process. There is live and recorded entertainment, and there are fashion shows, so there is something for women as well as for men (granted, the average beer drinker is a male!).
Qingdao International Beer Town is also a green park with walkways, ponds, trees and sculptures, including a very large sculpture in the form of a cup of beer (though it looks more like a short-stemmed red wine glass) mounted on a base in the center of a largish pond, where frothy water gushes over the sides of the beer cup, suggesting draft beer in general, though one can make out the Tsingtao Beer logo on the cup, and there are several small fountains surrounding the centerpiece beer cup that shoot a thin, vertical column of water. The name of the beer cup display is fittingly "Spilling over the world over".
At the back of the pond, and serving as a backdrop to the centerpiece beer cup, is a large, handsome, rectangular stone wall with the inscription "International Beer Town". At night, this entire water display is lit up, which changes the character of the fountain arrangement dramatically, rendering it cosy and intimate. Round about the sculpture is a large plaza with room for up to 10,000 visitors at one time. There are also thousands of chairs round about the plaza, so one can always find a place to sit and enjoy the view while one enjoys one's beer.
Tsingtao Brewery has a small brewing facility on location, where fresh beer is brewed daily. One can of course find bottled beer here from all over the world. Where there is beer, the has to be food, and Qingdao International Beer Town does not disappoint on that score either, since there are almost as many food types here as there are beer types, from pizzas to burgers to stir fry to more traditional Chinese and international dishes - and everything in between.
The annual Qingdao Beer Festival is partly held here, but since it has grown with the years, it has outgrown even the capacity of the beer town. Initially the festival was held all over the town, in the city's regular bars, restaurants and cafés, then the beer town was created as its main venue, though all of the city's bars, restaurants and cafés continued - as they still do - to celebrate the festival each year. Eventually, the beer town could not hold everyone, so new venues were taken into use.
Today, the main festival activities are held at three venues: Huiquan Plaza, Dengzhoulu Beer Street, and, not least, Qingdao International Beer Town. The festival has grown to be much more than just an event where the public enjoys a glass - or a bottle - of beer, it also has a serious business side, where beer manufacturers and importers gather at conference halls round about the city to "talk shop" and to work out trade deals, though it can't be denied that even these distinguished individuals perhaps occasionally succumb to the temptation to quaff a favorite beer, or perhaps a new lager, pilsener or ale.
As indicated in the above, Qingdao International Beer Town has also developed from strictly a festival venue to a summer-long theme park, where the presumed main theme - the praise and enjoyment of beer - is only an excuse for getting out of the house/ the apartment/ the hotel room and enjoying, in the company of like-minded souls, all of the attractions that one has become accustomed to finding at an international-class theme park, though for a small hardcore flock, Qingdao International Beer Town's main theme will forever remain beer. Cheers! Salut! Salute! Salud! Saude! Prost! Proost! Skaal!