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.