As promised, here’s my review of the Tsingtao Lager I received as part of a promotional package. As I’d mentioned, Tsingtao is available in some 95% of Chinese restaurants, and those are the only places I know to buy it; I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it retailed anywhere.
The thing to know about Tsingtao is even though it’s brewed in China, the style is essentially that of an Amercian Macro Lager—the light pilsner. As a result, you won’t usually see overly positive reviews of it on the craft beer sites. For myself, while I don’t go out of my way to drink light lagers, I do enjoy trying other country’s beers and try to go about reviews without preconceptions.
Appearance: Very light, very clear. Straw yellow, pilsner, very white fuzzy head that formed and fell quickly. The phrase "champagne of beers" comes to mind because the appearance is like that.
Smell: First smell is the slightly skunky Euro-Grolsch-lager aroma that’s typical of these types of beers stored in green bottles. Then it’s light and grainy. Understated and slightly spicy hops.
Taste: Light and crisp; has that slightly skunky macro-pilsner "twang." Some grain—corn. Clean aftertaste. Again, hops are understated and not really a presence, other than in cutting down the sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Very light, a little effervescent. I wouldn’t say watery, but leaning that way. Very clean feeling.
Overall: It’s decent, better than the typical American macro. Certainly one I’ll order next time I’m out for Chinese; I have a hunch it will complement a spicy dish quite well. Or maybe that’s just because the promo material suggested it; ah, the power of subliminal marketing…