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Craft collaboration

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-31 07:37

Craft collaboration

Steve Luke, owner of Cloudburst Brewing in Seattle, Washington, works at his brewery. He will be among the beer makers to join the Beijing festival. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new Beijing beer festival promises a three-hour, freeflow tasting of 32 different craft beers and eight collaborations between breweries in China and the Pacific Northwest, together with gourmet food and live music.

And this is just one of four sessions being held at the inaugural 8x8 Brewing Project's Beer Festival taking place in Beijing on Nov 3-4.

Eight up-and-coming Chinese breweries and eight top craft breweries from the US Pacific Northwest have paired up to brew eight collaboration beers specifically for the festival.

This is the first beer festival in China to focus on collaborative brewing-where two breweries work together to make a co-branded beer that combines their brewing styles, favorite ingredients and expertise-according to Alex Acker, initiator of the project.

Acker is also the cofounder of Jing A, one of the most popular breweries in Beijing, which started in 2014. Acker is surprised by how quickly craft beer has taken off in China.

"When we first started our brewery, probably 80 percent of our customers were from the foreign community, and now that's flipped the other way," Acker says.

The 39-year-old from the United States has taken Jing A beers to several international beer festivals since opening, giving beer fans from the US and around Europe the chance to taste beers from Chinese craft breweries.

Absorbing the positive experiences from the beer festivals they joined, Acker and his team came up with the idea of throwing their own brand of beer festival.

"It's not a typical festival but more like a project, with all 16 breweries becoming more involved in a six-month brewing collaboration.

"Too often, it's just distributors or sales teams that attend festivals, but we've invited the owners and brewers to join themselves," Acker says. "So, there's every chance the guy who pours your beer may well be the brewer, and you will be able to talk with him about it."

Acker's goal with 8x8 is to build connections between craft beer communities in other countries and the vibrant craft brewing industry that's developing in China.

For the first event, Acker chose to team up with breweries from the Pacific Northwest, one of the birthplaces of the modern craft beer movement and the location of his home state of Oregon.

Half the breweries attending the festival from the US are in the top 50 rankings of US breweries. Among them, Breakside Brewery from Portland won two silver and two bronze medals at last year's World Beer Cup, and four bronze medals at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival Awards.

Besides collaborations, each brewery will also bring eight of their craft beers to the festival. "Most of the beers from Pacific Northwest are not available in China, and many of them will cost $30, or even $40 for a bottle," Acker says.

"For beer fans, it's not only an opportunity to try some of these amazing beers in China but also to show support for this creative collaboration between Chinese and Western brewers."

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