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Bitter truth for Chinese craft beer: expats are out, local tastes are in

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Beijing craft brewers add Chinese flavours as Great Leap, other microbreweries grapple with expat exodus

Beijing brewpubs that traditionally catered to Westerners are diversifying their menus in favour of local tastes amid a 40 per cent decline in expatsGreat Leap Brewing has added Sichuan chicken and lighter beer options to its menu for customers coming from Weibo and XiaohongshuFood and DrinksYuke Xiein BeijingPublished: 11:30am, 2 Oct, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

For Great Leap Brewing, one of Beijing’s first craft beer brands founded in 2010 to serve the expatriate community, adding Sichuan-style spicy chicken to the menu does not seem immediately intuitive – but Allen Lueth, the company’s chief executive, has his reasons.

“The dish goes really well with our beer,” he said. “It’s a big hit, especially among our Chinese customers.”

Like Great Leap, many of the city’s foreign-run restaurants and microbreweries that started out with menus catering to Western tastes are now shifting strategies and marketing to locals.

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The change comes as the number of foreigners living and working in China has plummeted over the past couple of years, and continues to drop. Pandemic restrictions, geopolitical tensions, and an economic slowdown in China have all contributed to dimming job prospects.

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