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Scottish tech firm brings Chinese craft beer to UK

By Angus McNeice in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-12-06 01:37

Britons can now sip on craft beer brewed in China, following an import deal between Edinburgh-based online drinks platform Flavourly and Beijing brewer Panda Brew.

The deal is believed to involve the largest ever amount of Chinese craft beer imported into the United Kingdom, with 10,000 bottles of Panda Brew made available to British drinkers.

China is the largest beer market in the world. In 2015, Chinese drinkers guzzled 54 billion liters – more than double that of the United States, the second-biggest market, according to the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

With an expanding base of younger, more affluent drinkers in China, a taste for premium craft beers has developed, alongside the popularity of mass-produced lagers. The number of small, independent breweries in the country jumped from around 50 in 2015 to 150 last year.

Panda Brew was founded in 2013 and its range of craft beers is now sold in 60 cities across China. Six varieties are now available for next-day delivery in the UK through Flavourly, which is an online platform that sells and distributes imported craft beers and gins.

"Panda Brew is China's leading craft brewer and we were very keen to import their beers, and continue to offer our customers something very new," said David Moore, Flavourly's chief executive.

He added: "And there is, of course, a strong connection to Edinburgh. The city's zoo is home to the famous giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang, and the Panda Brew team also has links here."

Several Panda Brew beers have ingredients that give them a Chinese twist, including red honey, kuding tea, and ginger.

The beers range in price from 2.95 pounds ($3.95) to 4.50 pounds for a 330 milliliter bottle. The varieties differ in alcohol content, from a golden ale that is 5 percent alcohol, to a stout that is 10 percent.

Moore said the deal will pave the way for Scottish brewers to export to China.

"China is a massive market, and offers huge potential for Scottish brewers," Moore said. "Having a reciprocal import deal, where all parties mutually benefit, is a brilliant step forward for beer lovers in the UK and in China. We are very keen to promote this two-way relationship with brewers and distributors in China."

Earlier this year, Scottish craft brewer Innis & Gunn announced a deal with Chinese beer importer Dxcel International to distribute its beer brands in the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

UK beer exports to China have rocketed since President Xi Jinping and former prime minister David Cameron enjoyed a pint of ale at a country pub during Xi's state visit in 2015.

The following year, beer exports to China increased by 500 percent, and Britain began exporting barley to China for the first time after the two countries signed a 100-million-pound deal involving 750,000 tons of the grain being supplied during a five-year period. Barley is used in the brewing process.