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Shangri-La Beer: A taste of highland barley and Swiss craft
Liu Ziyu, Cao Yunbo and Eric Wang 2018-09-11 17:44:20

“It is quite beyond us that Shangri-La produces such refined beer,” exclaimed visitors at the Shangri-La Highland Craft Brewery on August 17.

Located at the Jingkou Industrial Park near Shangri-La City, northwest Yunnan Province, the brewery was founded in 2010 by three young Tibetan entrepreneurs who had studied and worked in Switzerland and Germany.

Since it went into production in 2015, the brewery has developed quite a few Shangri-La Beer varieties, including Yalaso, Golden Child, Son Gha, Black Yak, Tibetan Pale Ale, Super Nova, and Fat Dolma.

Of these, Yalaso was awarded Pale Lager Silver in the 2016 China Beer Awards, while Super Nova and Tibetan Pale Ale were respectively awarded the Helles Bock Bronze and the American Pale Ale Bronze. 

“In the first half of 2017, our sales volume reached 10,000,000 yuan,” said Gama Taqing, vice-president of the beer company. 

As is indicated in its name, the beer is full of Shangri-La elements. It is brewed out of highland barley and pure water in Shangri-La, most of its 40 plus workers are locals, and even the package design bears local Tibetan folk style.

Thanks to its uniqueness, the beer gets popular among tourists, and it sells well at the pubs and hotel in the Dukezong old town. The brewery also marketed its beer by opening beer bars in Kunming and cities in neighboring provinces.

In Kunming, you can taste Shangri-La Beer at THE TURTLE bar on the first floor of the Xiexin Tiandi(协信天地) building, Jianshe Road.

As the beer increases its popularity, some customers asked to learn about the production procedures of Shangri-La Beer.

“At first we were too bust to receive the visitors, but the rising number of visitors later made us feel obliged to let them see it,” said Taqing.

Taqing disclosed the number of daily visitors now can be as many as around 100 in 2-3 batches, with German and Franch tourists forming the majority.

The visitors are usually treated with a share of Shangri-La Beer and entertained by stories behind the beer. 

Under the initiative of Shangri-La Beer, an International Sister-City Partnership was forged between Arosa, Switzerland and Shangri-La, China.

Since then, the brewery has employed Swiss and German brew masters, who provide technical support in the production.

And the beer company also plans to cooperate with its Swiss partners to found a chocolate manufacture in Shangri-La.

“Shangri-La and Switzerland share similarities, both belonging to alpine areas where agriculture is dominated by cattle husbandry,” said Taqing. 

Taqing thinks that the added value of Shangri-La dairy products is low at present, and based on Swiss experience, the potential in making dairy chocolate is worth tapping.

“Yunnan boasts all of the raw materials for chocolate production,” said Taqing. They want to create their own chocolate brand which combines Tibetan flavor and modern design. And the chocolate aims to be a popular souvenir among tourists in the region. 

By Liu Ziyu, Cao Yunbo and Eric Wang

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