We had a few ideas lined up for Halloween, but with preparing our home for friends to come visit and making sure Elijah was sorted for the night, we decided take the easiest route that evening. We were wanting to dress up – like Zombies – and go downtown to a party, but with three kids in the house, we were in a pickle. There was no way that we could get ready and not be seen by the little ones. We really didn’t wan to scare them! So instead of going with the scary make-up plans, we booked two tickets for a “Night at the Museum” at the Tsingtao Beer Museum.
Tsingtao Beer Museum is both Museum and Beer Factory (founded in 1903). It is a “must see” Qingdao attraction that should not be missed. In fact, we really enjoyed the museum but since we went at night, we didn’t get to see the outside grounds so we would like to visit again during the day. The tour is broken up into three parts: (1) history of TsingTao Beer over the past 100 years, (2) walk through tour of how TsingTao Beer is made, (3) current brew factory production with a final stop at the bar for some samples. There is also a “Drunk Room” which simulates drunkenness. It has slanted walls and floors. Justin and I took a pretty funny video which you can view below.
We assumed that there would be a lot of foreigners since this event had been advertised on the expat forums, but there were only a handful of us, and the rest Chinese. When we got to the museum we realized that we were the only English-Speakers waiting for the next tour, so we were assigned our own guide and given a set of headphones. Quite funny since there were only two of us, and obviously these headphones are meant for large groups, so that everyone can clearly hear the guide. We were in close proximity to our guide at all times, but of course, you have to follow standard protocol in China – even when it doesn’t make sense! Our tour guide was sweet, but we could tell that we were one of the last groups because we were hurried through everything, especially the beer tasting, gaming and souvenir section at the end. Our guide literally stood staring at us, two feet away, as we tried to enjoy our glass of raw beer and packet of honey-roasted peanuts… aaawwkwaardd! When the tour was done, we were shown to a large hall. It was there that we met a couple of our friends, watched some live music, and ate dinner.
Some interesting information:
Above, The above bottle design is based on the ever-popular Chinese word for “cheers” is “Ganbei” (干杯). You will no doubt hear this word a million times if you ever come to China. The expression means literally “to dry the glass” (or “bottoms up”) though not everyone takes this literally and will often mean for you to take just a modest mouthful of whatever beverage you are consuming. Be warned, many Chinese will watch your reaction to the first ganbei of the evening to decide how they are going to drink. If you down your drink on the first one then expect a boozy night to follow as they will probably expect you to do the same each time.
In the 70’s, Qingdao people drank beer from canning jars. In the 80’s, they drank beer out of large bowls. In the 90’s, and still quite frequently now, Qingdao people tap beer from large kegs into plastic bags. This is a common sights where we live. We are no longer surprised when we see a man, shirt pulled up over his large belly, carrying a plastic bag filled with beer.
Below, It is said that there are three things that make the people of Qingdao happy. Those are – drinking beer, eating clams, and bathing in the sea. Clams are a unique seafood of coastal areas, and in Qingdao they are commonly know as “ga la”. Drinking Tsingtao Beer and eating spicy fried clams is a characteristic cuisine of Qingdao people, especially during the Annual Qingdao International Beer Festival. As you can see from the bottom right image, things get really crowded around here during the summer. That is why we like to pack our bags, and head far far away. That picture is not exaggeration – it pretty much sums up how busy Qingdao gets in the summer months.
We got to taste some real hops (not like we usually taste them – in the beer), and walk through some interactive areas in the museum. We learned a few interesting facts about the production of beer. The tour was quite informative.
We got to sample some raw Tsingtao beer and honey roasted peanuts in the bar area, but as I said, it was kind of awkward since our tour guide just stood staring at us. In her defense, she late told us that she had been working at the Beer Museum for a number of years, but this was her first English Tour, so the poor girl was probably just nervous.
Tsingtao Beer Company exports to both the United States and South Africa, so we found our countries and posed next to them. They were next to each other… awww!
Above, “The Drunken House”. We went inside this room expecting it to move and shake us around in order to stimulate drunkenness. Instead we found just a slanted floor, which sounds very easy to overcome, doesn’t it?! Surprisingly, we could barely make it across without clinging to the handlebar running along the side of the room. Here is a video of us giggling our way through… Justin had to take my handbag and my high heels slowed me down (pretty accurate effects!)
We spent the next couple of hours with friends, enjoying a three course meal, live music and free flowing Tsingtao Beer (of course!) in the large hall located under the Beer Museum.
It wasn’t what we had planned to do, but it was a great night out nonetheless. We have some pictures from the dinner and the crazy afterparty (which we weren’t expecting!) and we will post those later this week.
We hope that you all had a great Halloween.