Friday, August 25, 2006

Taiwan Dragon Well Beer

Some nights when I return home from work--usually about 9:30--I stop in the 7-Eleven below where I live and grab a beer. There is something very relaxing after a long day about collapsing on the couch with beer in hand and losing myself in one of those silly variety shows that are on the TV here.

The usual choice is Taiwan Beer or one of the Japanese beers, but I started to notice another one called Taiwan Dragon(龍泉)Beer. Maybe it was the name that resonated with my fascination for the anomalous; I also liked the flavor. Dragon Springs became my exclusive beer.

Dragon Springs is made by the Taiwan Tsing Company, which I had never heard of. Several times I told the guy at 7 how much I liked Dragon Springs--I think I even said I liked it better than Taiwan Beer.

Then one day the path to Dragon Springs had vanished. It wasn't there. Where was that landscape that I had so cherished?

I looked at the other beers in the refrigerator and selected a Qingdao, which everyone knows is a Chinese beer, originally brewed by Germans. I believe it is still a Chinese-German joint venture.

Sitting on my couch I perused the label. There again: Taiwan Tsing Company. So, Dragon Springs is made by Qingdao (Tsingtao). Taiwan Tsing is Qingdao brewed in Taiwan.

What is interesting is that nowhere on the label does it say it is a Chinese company. It just says it is an international brand brewed locally in Taiwan.

Interesting marketing strategy. I suppose international could refer to the fact that it is a joint venture or that it is sold all over the world, but it seems to me that they are trying to mask the fact that it is a Chinese company. For many people, that wouldn't be a problem. There might even be people who drink Qingdao specifically because it is Chinese. But there is another market of people who very proudly drink Taiwan Beer. They are Taike (台客)--people who love everything Taiwanese and they certainly would not drink Qingdao, knowing from where it comes. That is why I think the marketers disguised the provenance of Taiwan Dragon Springs. It is a strategy for reaching out to Taiwan [Beer] lovers.

Of course, everyone already knows Taiwan Tsing is Qingdao. As I placed my Taiwan Tsing beer down on the counter (click) The guy at 7 said: "I heard it is good beer." He doesn't drink beer. "Do you like it better than Taiwan Beer?" I replied: "Oh, I like both." Everyone present laughed. The next day I returned and bought a Taiwan Beer.

p.s. I strongly recommend clicking on the above link and reading the piece by Jerome Keating about taike. He is a long-time Taiwan observer and liver. You will learn something about the Taiwan spirit and about how many Taiwanese people perceive their history and present.


Blogger Jason said...

Interesting post. Last I checked, Qingdao is brewed in Taiwan by a company called Sanyo Whisbih, same joint that manufactures our favorite construction worker fuel.

There was quite a bit of controversy when Qindao hit Taiwan in 2003, especially after the Chinese government forced Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. to change its beer's name from Taiwan Beer to "TTL" if it was going to be sold in the PRC.

If I recall correctly there was a backlash against Qingdao and talk of banning it in Taiwan but for some reason it held on. Prehaps the 龍泉 label is connected to that.

5:07 AM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

Thanks for filling in some of the details. They made them change the name to Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor. That seems strange. It doesn't sound like one of those Chinese Taipei type of things.

Taiwan Tsing then definitely seems to be part of that, as does this:
International brand, made locally [Taiwan].

Why is Taiwan in brackets?

9:55 AM  
Anonymous kaminoge said...

Keating sure has a different definition of "Taike". I thought the word referred to slipper-wearing, blue-truck driving, Long Life-smoking, betel-nut chewing dudes. His article is a nice romantic fantasy. I'm waiting to read his interpretation/idealization of "Taimei".

8:19 AM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

I wonder if it is his "romantic fantasy" or that of people who refer to themselves as "taike." You could add Taiwan Beer to your list.

10:38 AM  

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