Archive for the ‘china’ Category

Figure 1. Harbin Beer


The production of beer-like beverages in China has a long history dating back to around 7000 BC (Wikipedia, 2010), although rice and wheat has often been used in place of barley.  This information questions the claim by Harbin Brewery, which was founded in 1900 AD, that it produces “the earliest beer brewed in China”, creating a 9000 year discrepancy (Harbin Beer label, 2010).   Harbin Beer (哈尔滨啤酒) is a weaker (3.6% vol.) lager-style beer made from “water, malt, rice, hops” (Harbin Beer label, 2010).  Harbin produces several types of beers including Hapi, Hapi Golden, Hatepi Heart Beer 10o and Harbin Wheat King 10o (ratebeer, 2010).


This experiment was designed to investigate numerous characteristics of Harbin Beer including, but not limited to, aroma, flavor, colour, satisfaction and vessel design.


A 610 ml bottle of Harbin Beer was obtained from a local bottle store for NZ$4.50.  The cap of the bottle was removed under controlled conditions using a bottle cap leveraging device.  The contents of the bottle were decanted into clean glass vessels.  Aroma was evaluated by smelling the beer.  Flavour was analysed by tasting the beer and discussing it with a research collaborator at great length and, subsequently, satisfaction was assessed.  The glass was held up to a standardized light to evaluate the colour and aesthetic aspects of the vessel were considered.


The results for Harbin Beer are shown in table 1 below.

Table 1. Characteristics of Harbin Beer

Characteristic Result
Aroma Sweet scented, like freshly bailed hay, with floral, hoppy undertones
Flavour Watery, with a distinct lack of flavouring.  Inoffensive aftertaste due to the almost complete absence of tastebud stimulation
Colour Pale yellow, evoking memories of a visit to the doctor’s to produce a sample
Satisfaction Having consumed the beverage, researchers were found wanting (beer with real flavour)
Vessel Design A crudely embossed, large green bottle adorned with a mainly white, gold and green label (see figure 1). Three gold “medals” at the bottom of the label promise award-winning achievement, but on closer inspection informs that it is “the earliest beer brewed in China” (see figure 2)
Head A thin fluffy head dissipates in 54 seconds
Drinkability 4

Figure 2. Harbin Beer ‘Medals’


Harbin Beer managed to underwhelm the researchers in the majority of tests.  This disappointment led to a protracted discussion as to whether the remaining liquid should be consumed or discarded.  The presence of rice in the ingredients may explain the final product being almost completely devoid of flavour.  The over-riding deduction from the analysis is that Harbin Beer is disappointing, and the almost complete nonexistence of flavours means that it will only be purchased again if nothing else is available.


Harbin Beer bottle label (2010)