Harbin Beer the 7th best in the world? Probably not, but is certainly the 7th most-sold beer in the world.
We recently did a fine blog on the 10 biggest selling beers in the world and would you guess 4 of them are from China? Now, we should clear up first that this has more to do with the population of China than the quality of the beer. Regardless if you travel to North Korea with us there is a decent chance you will sample some Chinese beer!
So what is the biggest selling beer in the world? The biggest selling beer in the world, or rather the best selling beer in the world is Snow Beer, which was covered in another blog. The third best selling in China, and seventh best in the world is Harbin Beer. The ninth is Corona, but we will ignore that for now.
What’s the history of Harbin Beer?
Sit down and strap in, the history is quite interesting. Harbin beer was founded in 1900, when Jan Wróblewski from Tarczyn in Prussian Poland, started a brewery in Northeast China (then Manchuria), which he named after himself. The initial idea was to give fuel to the thirsty Russians then building the Trans-Siberian Railway.
In 1908 it was remanded “Gloria” for some reason, before gaining the name Harbin in 1932 as a joint-venture between the Chinese and Czechoslovakians.
In 1945 the Soviets rolled-in, took it over, and renamed it the Quilin Stock company, before it was handed back to Red China in 1950. It continued innovating, such as being the first beer company to move to grain from rice (during the Cultural Revolution).
In 2003 SABMiller acquired a 3rd of shares in the company, before it was taken over by evil monolith Budweiser in 2004 after a bitter battle with Miller.
Nowadays, you can really taste he Budweiser influence in the flavor of Harbin Beer. Ironically whilst Budweiser isn’t a great beer, the American style flavor of Harbin makes it superior (in my mind) to the more German-influenced “top beer” that is Snow.
Unsurprisingly Harbin is a top beer in the heartlands of Dongbei, or the Northeast of China, and any trip on the North Korean Borderlands, will involve at least one, or two, cans of trusty Harbin..