Tsingtao Beer, produced by Tsingtao Brewery, has been the best selling beer in China for eleven consecutive years, and is also the brand most widely exported to other countries, followed by Zhujiang and Yanjing. Tsingtao Beer is brewed in the city of Qingdao (formerly spelled Tsingtao) which was a German base in the time of unequal treaties and late-colonial western influence in China. The Germans needed beer for their sailors, soldiers and traders, and production continued after they lost the city to the Japanese in World War I.

Apart from Tsingtao, other major Chinese brewing groups include China Blue Ribbon, Yanjing, Sie-Tang Lio and Zhujiang. Many major international brewers now have interests in, or joint ventures with, Chinese breweries, and popular international brands such as Carlsberg are now produced in China. This gives them access to the Chinese market, while providing capital and expertise to help upgrade local brewing standards, albeit at the cost of variety.

Only a few brewpubs exist in China, primarily in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing which have a resident western community. The most well-known craft brewer in China is Kaiwei Beer House, a brewpub chain based in Wuhan.

Chinese media reported in 2001 that as many as 95% of all Chinese beers contained formaldehyde, to prevent sedimentation in bottles and cans while in storage.[2] This practice has now been made illegal.[citation needed]

Chinese beers often contain rice, sorghum and sometimes rye in addition to barley.

Interestingly, some beer is produced that uses bitter melon instead of hops as the bittering agent.

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