Two Chinese Beers The World Could Live Without

Sitting in the back of my fridge, I just found a pair of abominations: lemon juice beer and pineapple flavor beer. Where they came from, god only knows.

But it was time to get rid of them.

Brewed in Beijing — out in the chic and rural Shunyi, in fact — the Yanjing-brand lemon juice can was filled with nature. Malt, rice, hops, sugar and apparently real lemon juice… I was impressed! Granted, there was “edible flavor,” but the small print insisted “Quality Grade: Excellent.” I was sold.

And yet, it was as hideous as you’d expect. Chemical, plastic, foul, and far too sweet.

“Wow,” said Michelle. “This is great!”

Granted, she hadn’t slept in three days, and was actually hallucinating slightly. She was also sampling alongside a huge slab of chocolate cake. I don’t think that’s how professional tasters work.

“No, it’s fantastic. I really like it.”

She took another sip.

It reminded me of the Chinese nouvelle-flavored potato chips we’d tried, bizarre twists like lobster-cheese, lemon-tea, or cucumber, mass produced for virgin audiences. Those were almost all awful.

And yet the pineapple beer — Great Value brand, but ingredients in Chinese only — was even worse.

I’d suffered a fever as a small child. The same night, my mother had made pineapple upside-down cake. For years I associated pineapples with crushing sickness. This can of beer brought all of that pain flooding back.

“Whoa,” howled Michelle. “This one smells pineapple-y!” She took a sip. “Wow, it’s great! You could serve it at a picnic.”

I was seriously wondering what I’d gotten into. It was crisp and sharp and utterly foul. It overwhelmed the senses with a big rush of intense plastic pineapple sugar.

Michelle took another big bite of chocolate cake. She smiled. She was in heaven.

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