Sunday, June 12, 2011

Premium Beer in Tibet

Lhasa TibetI was recently reminded of this story so I thought I would share.

A few years ago I took a tour through Tibet. At each restaurant, the waiter would always gave a choice between "local beer" and a slightly more expensive "Premium Blue Ribbon" beer. Most of the time they referred to the second choice as only "Premium Beer" or more often simply as "Blue Ribbon Beer". I usually tried the local beer which was always a one liter bottle of Lhasa Beer. Sometimes I would split the liter with a friend at dinner.

So at lunch one day after more than a week traveling around in Tibet -- I think it was the day after coming down the mountain from Rombuk and the Everest Base camp -- I decided to splurge the extra buck and find out what the premium blue ribbon beer was like. I was surprised when the waiter brought me a one liter bottle of this:

PBR in Tibet
(Click the picture to see larger size and read the label)

Yes, there were only two choices of beer at the time and the premium beer choice was a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. In the U.S. we usually refer to this beer by the brand name "Pabst" or "PBR", and it is considered a cheap beer selection. However, the words "Blue Ribbon" on the label are more clearly readable and understandable so the locals had been referring to the brand name "Blue Ribbon".

I later read on Wikipedia that the Lhasa beer was a relatively recent commercial venture by the Chinese in cooperation with the European Carlsburg brewery. At the time, I did not know this and believed this just to be a cheap long-time local brand of beer.

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