Is China The New Craft Beer Market?

Studies show that because of a rising middle class, China is going to grasp onto the craft beer trend.

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

China consumes more than 50 billion litters of beer per year.

The drink that people seem to craving most this summer (and over the past few years) is craft beer. And we get it; it’s beer but more awesome, individualized, and with more personality. Germany, France and Latin America are among the new markets around the globe are tapping (no pun intended) into the trend, but China might just be the most successful. Why is that? The country has the largest beer market in the world.

The country’s Craft Brewers Association only has five member breweries, and the entire nation only has about 30 microbreweries and brew pubs. Don’t let this fool you; the nation consumes more than 50 billion litters of beer per year.

What’s the key factor hinting at the rising star craft beer industry? A growing middle class. "With continued rapid rises in average incomes and the general feel-good factor about China’s continued economic growth, consumers are not only drinking more beer, but are also beginning to drink more expensive beers,” said the Director of Chine Research at Mintel, Matthew Crabbe.

Carly Setzer, a Cleveland native, is excited about this news. Setzer is the co-founder of Great Leap Brewing in Beijing. The Asia Society interviewed him this week, noting that China has picked up his product. “The biggest piece of advice would be to study Chinese earnestly before you go into business in China. … There is no magical way to do business in China. There is only case-by-case experience and know-how," he said to the Asia Society.