Rise of Chinese Middle Class Fuels Interest in Craft Beers

“Panda Beer,” “Little General,” “Flying Fist IPA,” and “Mandarin Wheat” are among the offerings on tap at a craft beer exhibition this week in Shanghai dedicated to expanding the palette of Chinese consumers and promoting sales of high-end brews.

The 2018 Craft Beer of China Exhibition features breweries like Rasenburg Beer, Myth Monkey Brewing, Lazy Taps, Goose Island and Boxing Cat Brewery that are sharing tips on the latest technology and sales trends as Chinese shift from legacy brews to more experimental, refined and expensive flavors.

From taps at the expo flowed creative mixes of flavors and traditions, a swirling cocktail of Chinese ingredients, barley, hops and spices from around the world.

“After drinking it [craft beer], it feels much better than the domestic industry beer, and then you just can’t leave it,” said Yu Shiqi, a 40-year old craft beer consumer at the expo who dreams of brewing his own.

There’s money to be made in China, which drinks a quarter of all beer worldwide, and small-batch brewers and giant multinationals are cashing in. Though craft beer is far from upstaging local beer behemoths like Tsingtao that dominate the $28 billion national beer market, it is rising in popularity as small breweries open up in China’s major metropolitan areas like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Craft beers are typically more expensive than mass-market, low-alcohol content brews like Budweiser and China’s Yanjing. But as China’s middle class grows, so too does its tastes for finer products.

A couple of years ago, craft beer made up only 0.3 percent of total beer consumption. It has since risen to about 5 percent, said Darren Guo, one of the exhibition’s organizers, who expect to see 30 percent growth in the craft beer market every year until 2020. “Beer culture is pretty much on the beginning or starting level.”

Laurel Liu, sales director of Beijing-based Jing-A brewery, says she gets calls from small towns asking how to start up a craft brewery.

“You don’t even expect them to have craft beer there but now they do,” Liu said. “I’m really surprised and happy to see now that craft beer in China is a thing and it’s really easier to access these products now.”

More money was spent on beer in China than the U.S. in 2017, according to beer industry research firm Drink Sector. Craft breweries were “rapidly increasing,” although foreign imports continue to dominate the high-end beer sector.

The Belgian-Brazilian firm Anheuser-Busch InBev, the makers of Budweiser, has invested heavily in China, building breweries and acquiring craft breweries like Shanghai’s Boxing Cat. Anheuser Busch also owns Goose Island, which is based in Chicago.

Michael Jordan, brew-master at Boxing Cat, and his staff experiment with flavors like egg tart, green tea, peppercorn, chai, kiwi, hibiscus and sweet potato.

Jordan chalks up some of the success of craft brewing in China to President Xi Jinping sharing a pint of IPA, or Indian Pale Ale, in 2015 in the UK with then-prime minister David Cameron.

“The ‘Xi phenomenon’ really kind of opened people’s eyes to IPA,” he said.

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Huge Security Operation Under Way as Britain Prepares For Royal Wedding

The big day is nearly here for Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as the couple are to wed Saturday in the town of Windsor, just outside London. The former American actress confirmed this week that her father will not attend the ceremony because of ill health. Huge crowds are expected as well-wishers try to catch a glimpse of the royal couple and, as Henry Ridgwell reports, from the security operation, to the catering, to the flowers, the day marks the culmination of months of preparation.

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Inventors Honored in Hall of Fame Special Ceremony

Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Apple founder Steve Jobs are some of America’s best known inventors. But there are other, less recognizable individuals whose innovative products have greatly impacted our world. More than a dozen of them were recently honored for their unique contributions in a special ceremony at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum in Alexandria, Virginia. VOA’s Julie Taboh has more.

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For Some African-Americans, Meghan Markle Is Cause for Celebration

Ishea Brown and more than a dozen of her black friends will gather around the TV set in her Seattle home on Saturday to watch the biracial actress Meghan Markle marry Britain’s Prince Harry and to toast a union the hostess never imagined possible.

Brown is not a longtime devotee of all things royal, and she was not particularly interested in the House of Windsor before November. All that changed with the announcement of the wedding of the queen’s grandson to Markle, whose mother is black.

“These are things that growing up I never would have thought that we would see,” Brown, 33, said, referring to a woman with African-American heritage becoming a royal in the United Kingdom.

“I hope that women, but particularly black women, are able to see themselves in her and her mother, and know that there are no spaces that are not meant for us,” she said.

Brown has dubbed her party “Black A.F. Royal Wedding Brunch” and is using the hashtag of #WakandaWeddingWeekend, a reference to the fictional African country Wakanda featured in the blockbuster movie “Black Panther.”

Hundreds of thousands of royal watchers around the world will tune into the royal nuptials on May 19, and interest is particularly intense in the United States, with its historical, cultural and linguistic ties to Great Britain.

There has been a surge of interest and excitement among some black Americans, especially black women, who are inspired by Meghan Markle’s new-found status, said Sarah Gaither, a Duke University psychology professor who has focused on diversity issues and race relations.

“Most communities of color really aspire to have representation or role models, said Gaither, who is also a biracial woman.” That’s what I think is really unique of Meghan Markle – because she’s biracial.”

That said, Gaither pointed out some people within the black community do not fully identify with Markle because she is a biracial woman.

Kim Love, a black American with a large Twitter and YouTube following who frequently comments on social mobility issues, raised that point in an online post on Tuesday.

“Meghan Markle’s marriage does not represent a win for black women,” Love said in a tweet. “Besides, she doesn’t even self-identify as a ‘black woman,’ so please stop forcing it.”

In New York City, Claire Osborne, a 34-year-old stage manager and a fan of “Suits,” the USA Network television series that starred Markle, is one of those black women fascinated by the wedding. In fact, her interest runs so deep, she says she now spends much of her free time on Twitter to learn more about the festivities.

“A lot of my friends, we all weren’t that interested in the royal family but now she’s in there, as a person of color, we want to follow now,” Osborne said, who also plans on waking up early to watch the wedding on television. “We’re kind of rooting for her because you see someone in that world who looks like you and representation matters.”

The wedding service starts at 1200 GMT (5 a.m. PDT), and to get in the spirit, Brown and her friends will wear tiaras or fascinators, a style of headwear favored by women at British weddings. But in a nod to the bride’s heritage, the Seattle women will lace their hats with African prints.

In Seattle, Brown initially scheduled her get-together to start before dawn, but too many of her friends had schedule conflicts, so she changed the party time for noon, when guests will watch the festivities on delay.

Brown and her friends will sip glasses of English rose champagne and Hennessy refresh tea, a mix of the cognac and English Earl Grey black tea, which she said “is the best of both worlds.”

“We’re going to do cucumber sandwiches to be traditional, but we’ll also have fried chicken sandwiches,” Brown said. “We know that his favorite stuff is bacon and pizza, so we may have a breakfast pizza.”

While the party is mostly about having fun, Brown says her identification with Markle runs deep. Like the royal bride, she also went through a divorce and is currently in an interracial relationship.

Brown says Markle represents the kind of woman whose life was not limited by preconceptions and arbitrary social boundaries.

“I find it inspiring,” she said.

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Detroit to Name Street After King of Pop, Honor Jackson 5

The late King of Pop is getting his own street name in Motown, which first launched him into superstardom.

A section of Randolph in downtown Detroit will be renamed Michael Jackson Avenue during a June 15 ceremony. The announcement came Tuesday, ahead of next month’s Detroit Music Weekend.

Four of Jackson’s brothers — Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon — are scheduled to perform during the festival. They also will receive a key to the city.

The Gary, Indiana, brothers signed in 1968 with Detroit’s Motown and had hits that included “I Want You Back” and “ABC.”

Michael later would leave Motown and in 1984 recorded “Thriller,” which became the best-selling album of all time. He was 50 when he died in 2009 in Los Angeles from a prescription drug overdose.

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Miss America Picks Women for Leadership Spots

The Miss America Organization is putting women in its three top leadership positions following an email scandal in which male officials were caught making vulgar and insulting comments about past winners of the beauty pageant. 

The organization told The Associated Press on Thursday it is appointing Regina Hopper as president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, and Marjorie Vincent-Tripp as chairwoman of the board of the Miss America Foundation.

Coupled with Gretchen Carlson leading the Miss America Organization’s board of trustees, the group is moving on from the email scandal with women firmly in charge.

“By putting female leadership in place, we hope to send a strong signal,” Hopper told the AP. “We want young women to see Miss America as a place where they can come and benefit and be empowered.”

Hopper, a former Miss Arkansas, attorney and TV journalist, replaces Sam Haskell, whose emails about the intellect, appearance and sex lives of former Miss Americas led to his departure and a revamping of the group’s top leadership in December. She is a former correspondent for CBS News, where she won an Emmy for her work on the show 48 Hours.

The scandal began when the Huffington Post published leaked emails showing pageant officials ridiculing past Miss Americas, including crass and sometimes vulgar comments about them. The emails included one that used a vulgar term for female genitalia to refer to past Miss America winners, one that wished that a particular former Miss America had died and others that speculated about how many sex partners one former Miss America has had.

Haskell declined to comment on the new leadership.

Vincent-Tripp, who was Miss America 1991, formerly served on the Miss America Board of Trustees. She is an assistant attorney general in Florida, and formerly worked as a TV journalist. As chair of the Miss America Foundation, she is responsible for educating the public about the foundation’s values and building public support.

Vincent-Tripp replaces Lanny Griffith, who along with MAO chair Lynn Weidner stepped down during the transition.

Carlson, Miss America 1989, was named chairwoman of the Miss America board in January after the email scandal rocked the organization. Her sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes led to his departure.

Hopper said she hopes young women will realize that Miss America is now being led by women who have been through the program and have been helped by it, and that they will seek the same benefits from it.

Larry Hoffer, a volunteer at local and state pageants, said he is eager to see what the new leaders’ vision will be and expects the women will leave the organization stronger.

“I think it’s an excellent, excellent move,” Hoffer said. “For a pageant that is strictly about empowering women to have not had female leadership for all of these years just never seemed to work. You basically had men deciding how women should be treated and featured on the telecast and how Miss America should be portrayed in the media. Having these women lead such a major scholarship organization shows that women are being taken seriously.”

Jill Cook, a local pageant volunteer, said she saw the new appointments as “a step forward” for Miss America. She applauded the women’s pedigrees and their success both in the pageant world and beyond.

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First-time Director Brings ‘Post-Post-Colonial’ South Africa to Cannes

With its characters herding cattle through an austere, dusty landscape, “The Harvesters” bears a passing resemblance to a Western. But the setting of the movie, which won critical acclaim for its first-time director in Cannes, is not the Wild West but South Africa, and its cowboys are Afrikaners, a community that thrived in the apartheid era but now faces an uncertain future.

The story follows teenage boy Janno, the oldest child and only son in a God-fearing family whose life and sense of self are thrown into chaos by his parents’ decision to foster an orphan, Pieter, a 13-year-old child recovering from drug addiction and life as a rent boy.

Writer-director Etienne Kallos, a South African, but not an Afrikaner, was drawn to the story of a community in a “post-post-colonial” world that finds itself increasingly isolated.

“They are overlooked, I would say, in many ways,” Kallos told Reuters in Cannes.

“They are under-represented, especially because the only thing people think about is apartheid. But there’s so much more going on.

“The new generation of Afrikaners was born completely outside the apartheid regime and they’re moving towards some sort of a new Africa and don’t know what that is yet.”

There is a sense of identity under threat, both for the community and for Janno himself, played by newcomer Brent Vermeulen, whose deep feelings for his best friend do not fit with the macho rugby-playing culture.

Screen Daily said: “This assured feature debut effectively hints at a churning savagery beneath the surface, which is every bit as unforgiving as the stark landscape.” That landscape, in Eastern Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, with its mesas, striking flat-topped mountains, was the starting point for Kallos.

“I set out to make a film about place,” he said. “We worked hard to somehow capture … a grandeur that the landscape is bigger than the people. “I wanted to feel the landscape was more important than the characters or more powerful than the characters.”

“The Harvesters” (“Die Stropers”) is in competition in the “Un Certain Regard” section at the Cannes Film Festival that runs to May 19.

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Raisman, Other Women to Receive Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Gold-medal Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and dozens of other women who spoke out about sexual abuse by Larry Nassar will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYS.


The July 18 show in Los Angeles honors the past year’s best athletes and moments in sports. Alison Overholt, a vice president at ESPN, says the women have shown “what it truly means to speak truth to power.”


More than 250 gave statements in court when Nassar was sentenced for sexual assault in January and February. They said the sports doctor molested them while they sought treatment for injuries.


Michigan State University announced a $500 million settlement with Nassar’s victims Wednesday. He assaulted females at his campus clinic, Lansing-area home, area gyms and major gymnastics events.


The ESPYS will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET from the Microsoft Theater.

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Old Tires Find New Life in Hands of Moroccan Artist

In his home in Marrakech, artist Lahcen Iwi brings out a cutter and gets to work, slicing up squares of used tires to craft his sculptures.

From dragons to unicorns, Iwi creates his artwork out of tires he collects from landfill sites and scrapyards.

The Moroccan artist believes that there is something noble in recycling tires, “injecting art” into an object that would otherwise be harmful to the environment.

“It is a good message for humanity,” he said.

A single sculpture can take Iwi anything from a week to two months to make.

He sells his art and previous works have gone on display in exhibitions in France.


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Exploring the History of Teeth at Baltimore’s Dentistry Museum

Here’s a little known fact to sink your teeth into — Did you know that George Washington’s second inaugural speech contained only 135 words? It’s not because America’s first president had nothing to say. Tooth historians say it’s because the president was wearing new dentures, making it difficult for him to speak. Searching for other toothy morsels from history, our reporter Maxim Moskalkov went to the National Dentistry Museum in Baltimore to learn more.

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