Question for the ages, from the Int'l Herald Tribune

"Why aren't there better beers in Asia?"

In the IHT today Jeff Boda dares ask the question that so often runs through my mind these days. Most often, when I confront the depressing choice among local Tiger, local Carlsberg, local Suntory, local Heineken, and of-course-local Qingdao or Snow in a neighborhood restaurant. Talk about a distinction without a difference! I might as well just have a REEB.

Even the brave Boda is not daring enough to hazard an answer. (My hypothesis: hops are the one expensive ingredient in beer, so the breweries don't use any.) But his story says enough to break my heart:

There's hope brewing in Japan. Thirteen years after it legalized microbreweries, the country has produced craft brewers who can hold their own with the best that the United States and Europe have to offer. Their pale ales are as refreshingly hoppy as Sierra Nevada, the benchmark in the United States.

Where were you, Japanese microbrewers, when I lived in your country? And why aren't you in China now? Just wondering. Crying in my beer, you might say.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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