Sep 22, 2012

Summer vacation: Beer in a bag?

Yup. Beer in a bag!

Beer and BBQ
Beer in a bagThe corner bar is pretty much just stools and kegs outside The wonderful Beer MamaBeer Mama's future dinner
Beer Mama is a neighborhood fixture in the old town. You can even find word about her online, although I don’t think she is aware of her Internet presence.
This chicken was to be Beer Mama’s dinner later in the week. She was feeding it beer to make it extra tasty.

While they weren’t all as refined as the Ratskeller, the streets of Qingdao were filled with places where one could enjoy an outdoor beer. Scattered throughout the old town were tiny little establishments that basically consisted of a few kegs and some folding chairs. During the day, trucks from the brewery rumbled through the neighborhood dropping off fresh beer, and at night, locals and tourists alike crouched around the small tables for a refreshing drink. Some of these places also had a little grill, and you could order delicious skewers of meat.

Beer was sometimes drunk out of a mug, but often it was sipped straight out of a plastic bag with a straw. (This could get precarious.) Neighborhood denizens would even stop by to get a to-go bag for home consumption. Lighter to carry than a growler, I guess.

Our favorite of these sidewalk bars was run by a woman who called herself Beer Mama. Ask around in the neighborhood of the Kaiyue Youth Hostel and you’ll find her. She knows just enough English to entice western passers-by to come sit and drink her beer. And she gets a lot of takers. “Beer Mama’s beer is the best,” she said one night (thanks to the German guy at the table next to us for translating). “It’s good for the brain.” She also admitted to drinking a lot of her own wares herself.

The way to the bathroom
Peter, on his hunt for the bathroom: “It was like playing ‘Resident Evil,’ when your flashlight is dying, and you’re about to be killed.”

The only drawback was the bathroom situation. Even out of a bag, a liter of beer can fill you up. On our first night at Beer Mama’s, we saw other customers going in and out of the building that we were set up in front of. They handed off a flashlight to each other as they came and went. When we got to a point where it came to alleviate the problem or go back home, Peter stepped up to check it out. An Australian girl gave him the flashlight and directed him toward the building.

On his return, he reported the situation: “It’s terrifying in there.” Apparently, the “bathroom,” was a grate in an outdoor courtyard in an apartment building. But the whole area was pitch black, and there were mysterious noises coming from all directions. “I swear I heard a zombie sputtering from a room down one hallway,” Peter said. That’s when he turned around. We’ve acclimated to many things in China, but we both decided that this was a sign to call it a night.

But it definitely did not dampen our enthusiasm to return!

Coming up, it’s time to eat again!