In particular, Chinese consumers are asking for Greene King IPA, which President Xi Jinping was snapped drinking on his on a recent state visit, in massive numbers.
“It has just gone berserk. It’s unbelievable,” said Peter Bloxham, a Beijing-based British businessman who imports Greene King beers, told The Guardian.
“Within two days of the great bar scene… people from all over China were ringing: agents, restaurants, bars, hotels. They wanted this beer.”
In The TImes, Shanghai pub owner Jackie Zhou said: “Customers usually don’t explain why they want the beer, they just say “give me what Xi Dada [President Xi] drank.”
Zhou said sales had quadrupled since the visit as drinkers seek to emulate the leaders at their pub lunch.
“This beer’s balance is good,” said Zhou. “Chinese people can accept it. Drinking it in the afternoon feels very comfortable. Chinese people like new things.”
Newspapers from as far away as Xinjiang, a desert region more than 3,200km west of Beijing, have reported a spike in the beer’s consumption, The Guardian reported.
In spite of consumers’ newfound taste for British IPA, China remains the world’s leading producer of beer. And as the biggest consumer, some analysts expect annual sales to reach 61bn litres next year.
Snow, a lager which is manufactured in China, has been the world’s biggest selling brand in terms of volume since it overtook Bud Light in 2008, with around 5.5% of the global market—even though it is only sold on the domestic market.
Fellow local beer Tsingtao, which is exported, is second on the list of the world’s biggest beer brands with a 2.8% global share.
During Xi’s state visit, Britain signed an agreement worth US$152m for the export of around 150,000 tonnes of British barley a year to China. The grain will largely be sold to craft breweries.
"British beer hasn't been the front-runner so far, but is growing in profile. So, I think there is a massive opportunity for us to take more market share,” Elizabeth Truss, Britain’s food secretary said after the deal.