Admittedly, we find it hard to gather enough reliable information about Snow Beer, which is, at present, the best-selling Chinese beer. CR Snow, a brewery that produces Snow Beer, is based in Beijing in order for the production, marketing and sale of the beer to the local beer market. It was founded in 1993 (some sources say 1994) in Shenyang, capital of the province of Liaoning in northeastern China. CR Snow used to have two main breweries (again, some sources say three) which were Shenyang and Dailan.
As a result of a joint venture between the global SABMiller and China Resources Beer (CRB), Snow debuted in Shenyang in 1994. It quickly grew, absorbing average regional brewers all around the nation. By 2006, Snow had more than 50 breweries and was the country’s biggest volume producer of beer. It was the largest in the world by 2010.
A few years ago, CRB changed its direction. Prior to the merger with AB InBev, SABMiller gave back its investment in the company in 2016. CRB then sold a small portion of its shares to Heineken in 2018. CRB said earlier this year that it will close roughly 20 of its breweries over the next five years. The idea is to draw attention away from inexpensive Snow goods and onto expensive (almost twice as expensive) Heineken products.
It has also took over some smaller beer companies. Up to 2007, both the national sales volume and single product sales volume of Snow Beer broke the record in China. Later, it has taken the first place of sales volume in Chinese domestic beer industry for consecutive years. In 2018, Snow Beer accounted for approximately 29.6% of China’s beer market. At present, it has been one of the top beers and most popular beers in China.
The beer was named “Snow Beer” most likely for its thick, rich head – pure white as a snow.
In just a short while, CR Snow became grew big, snapping up more breweries such as Jilin, Tianjin and Anshan, and began to spread its business outside the northeast.
Its acquisitions continued across the country, including more breweries such as Blue Sword, Dongxhiu, Longjin, Qianjing and Lion Nathan. In 2006, CR Snow went into a successful Greenfield expansion with its acquisitions in breweries located in Anhui, Dongguan, Lanzhuo, Harbin, Nangjing, and others
Today, CR Snow has over 80 breweries nationwide. Conglomerate China Resource Enterprise has a 51% stake in CR Snow, while British-South African brewery and beverage firm SAB Miller holds the remaining 49%.
Snow Beer has many other beer products – Blue Sword, Green Leaves, Huadan, Huadan Yate, Lowen, New Three Star, Shenquan, Shenyang, Singo, Sip, Tanjin, Yatai, Zero Clock, and 30-odd other regional beer brands. But CR Snow and SAB Miller’s most famed product is, of course, Snow Beer. As a flagship product, Snow Beer is the best-selling brand in CR Snow’s brewing history. In 2008, Snow Beer was proclaimed the world’s best beer in terms of production, having rolled out 61 million hectoliters. That is, despite being sold only in China and having never yet made a foothold in the Western markets – even in Hong Kong, where the beer is not yet one of the region’s regular beer brands but is slowly making a name in its beer markets.
As of 2010, Snow Beer sold around 16.5 billion pints, taking about 10% of the national beer consumption. China’s enormous population may account for this, but CR Snow has built over 80 breweries around the country that produce Snow Beer and other types of regional beer. As of this writing, CR Snow is predicting that the 2 billion hectoliters of Snow Beer shall be surpassed by 2013.
A survey of China beer
Long before anybody else, the Chinese began producing drinks from fermented grains over 9,000 years ago, yet they have generally avoided beer. Li, a weak beer prepared from sprouted grains and wild yeast that dates back to the first or second millennium, is one of the earliest beverages consumed in China. It was replaced with a stronger beverage created from an advanced microbe culture based on grains. This beverage, known now as huangjiu, was the most consumed alcoholic beverage in China up until the 20th century, and its term, jiu, came to be associated with all alcoholic drinks throughout East Asia.
It required outside help to bring beer back to life. The first European-style brewery in China was founded in Harbin in 1900 by a Polish-Russian immigrant; it still exists as the city’s name-brand brewer. The Tsingtao Brewery was founded three years later by the British and German Beer Corporation, and it was subsequently taken over by the Japanese in 1914, along with the city of Qingdao. When the PRC was founded in 1949, there were less than 10 breweries in the nation, with a total production of 70,000 liters, thus these beers didn’t have much of an impact on local customers.
During the Mao era, the beer market remained stagnant, but in the decades that followed, it expanded along with the rest of the economy. Production almost doubled by five between 1980 and 1985, surpassing 3 billion liters. By volume, beer has become the preferred alcoholic beverage in China by 1990. China then surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest producer of beer in 2002 and was drinking around 50 billion liters by 2011. This was accomplished via continuing growth, consolidation, and foreign investment.
The thawing of the snow shows that China’s taste in beer is shifting swiftly. Heineken’s ascent demonstrates that Chinese beer lovers are seeking more from breweries, even if it is a long cry from the bitter, acidic beers that please beer snobs across the world. Furthermore, it is hard to distinguish between this tendency and the craft brewers and brewpubs that have mushroomed in Chinese cities during the past ten years.
Even while craft beer currently only makes up a small portion of China’s $85 billion beer industry, it nevertheless has a big impact on the country’s drinking culture. Additionally, China’s long-standing, contentious connection with beer indicates a lot about the nation’s past and potential future.
Snow Beer – as the world’s best-selling beer
Snow Beer’s distinctive feature—and source of name—is a profusion of foams that resemble white snow. The beer liquid is vivid light golden, with a lingering malt fragrance. Snow Beer typically has an alcohol percentage of 2.5-4.5% and a wort concentration of 8-14°P. Consumers like Snow Beer, which has long held the title of most popular beer brand worldwide.
Looking towards the future
The enormous stride forward made by its manufacturer appears even more incredible when you consider that the volume of Snow Beer produced six years ago was only a tenth of the current ones. Today, Snow beer is available throughout China and is the only national brand of beer in a market that is notoriously regionally fragmented.
With few notable exceptions, such as Hingkong, where this beer is not yet accessible, snow beer is solely known and drunk inside the nation in where it is produced today. According to CRB expansion plans, this brand might soon become one of the leading players even in international markets, and some industry evaluations already predict an even greater future for it.
Many beer-drinking Westerners who think that Tsingtao is the best selling beer in China would be surprised to see that CR Snow has beaten all the competition, taking a share on the national market of 20%
However, its fame is slowly creeping outside the country, and many people around the world are becoming aware of Snow Beer. Only time will tell if Snow Beer, which has taken China by storm, would make a similar impact outside the country, most especially in the Western world.