Probably most of us know the four main ingredients of beer are water, malt, hop and yeast. Have you ever heard people use Qingke to replace malt as the main ingredient to brew beers? Qingke is also called Tibet barley. It is normally grown in the thin air of the Tibetan plateau like Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan in China. Local people have used Qingke to make into a food called zanba for more than 3500 years.
The Cherry Tibet – Tibet Pale Ale is the very first beer brewed with Qingke in the world. The Qingke used in our beer were harvest in Shangri-La of Yunnan province. There are long sunlight, thin air, fertile soil and snow water in Shangri-La. With such a terroir, it gives some special characters of Qingke grown in this area:
- High starch content. It contains 50%-70% of starch. Most of the starches are short-chained which means it is easier to convert to sugar and makes mashing process shorter.
- High β-glucose content. Qingke has the highest β-glucose content in all plants of the world. The most exciting thing about glucose in brewing is that it can give more banana flavour to a beer according to the research by Chris Saunders(2016).
According to food and beverage quality-control standards for distribution, bottled beer should not contain yeast or any other microbiologicals. However, craft beer is not filtered and contains yeast, so that it can keep flavors the brewer intended for the finished beer.
Fortunately, Shangri-La local authorities wanted to help. They hope Snow Mountain craft beer can create more demand for Tiber Barley. Shangri-La is an important cultivation area of Tibet barley. 80% of local people live on growing Qingke. Local officers promise greater regulatory freedom and have suggested packing in kegs instead of bottle. The above standard doesn’t apply to kegged beer. As long as you are licensed, you can brew beer on site, or off-site for distribution to other outlets run by a business.
Japan and Korea used to have similar strict standards to craft beer. However, their governments have modified regulations and encouraged microbrewery development. China market wants craft beer. We are optimistic more positive changes will happen in China. But that time China’s new brewers will have more latitude to explore their other challenge: making a distinctly Chinese beer with Chinese flavour ingredients and let the world taste Shangri-La in bottle.