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Doughty Denver brewer to export Chinese craft beer to China

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-03-01 13:35

DENVER, the United States - A handful of Americans have tried opening breweries in China, and now one is trying the brash move of brewing his China-made and tested recipes back in the US - and exporting the final product back to whence it came.

"Jade Mountain Brewing Company was created with the goal of crafting full-flavored, artisanal ales that incorporate Chinese fruits, spices and teas," beer entrepreneur Sean Guerrero said.

Born and raised in Denver, the capital and most populous municipality of the US state of Colorado, Guerrero, 31, returned from China last year to replicate his brewpub success.

Guerrero made his first trip to China in 2008 to teach English in the small city of Huzhou, some 150 kms west of Shanghai. One day after work, he overlooked Huzhou's spectacular Lake Tai and thought, "A cold craft beer would be perfect right now."

But there no craft breweries in Huzhou. So Guerrero got busy.

In 2015, Guerrero opened Huzhou's first craft brewery in a centuries-old teahouse, with the final product having a unique Chinese flavor of tea and beer, and priced at $5 per glass.

"People said they'd never pay that much for it," Guerrero recalled, smiling, "but after some free samples, they were convinced that my beer was much better than the cold light Pilsner they bought from the convenience store."

Guerrero "taught himself Chinese by explaining the different types of beer" to his patrons, and soon, Huzhou was hooked. Still, when it comes to mass producing beer, the regulations in China are very strict, which made him come back here, mass produce the Chinese beer, and ship it back to China.

On Monday Guerrero announced his second facility -- a 279-square-meter space with 1,000 tasting rooms -- would be opened in Southeast Denver in May.

In China, due to a lack of traditional Western brewing ingredients and a desire to tap into Chinese tastes, Guerrero used a number of Chinese ingredients, including the sweet osmanthus, jasmine, hawthorne berries, Chinese cinnamon, dragon fruit, Pu'er tea, oolong tea, mandarin oranges, and Sichuan peppercorn.

Last year, he recruited a local Chinese beer aficionado, Li Giu, to keep the Huzhou flagship running, and took his skills and trade back to Denver.

"The market is wide open for American craft beer to enter China," Xian Dong, a business consultant in China, said.

"Colorado and California brew the best craft beer in the United States, so it makes sense they want this beer," Dong said, especially complimenting Guerrero's "Jasmine Lager" that includes jasmine yeast to produce a light, fresh taste.

Only a handful of Americans have been successful in starting brewpubs in China. Among them are Beijing's Great Leap and Shanghai's Boxing Cat.

Boxing Cat opened in 2008 and was bought out last year by Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate AB InBev, the world's biggest beer brewer.

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