Planet China

Going Greene

The Irish whiskey Jameson got an unexpected sales boost when pop sensation Rihanna sang “Oh, let the Jameson sink in” as part of the chorus to her 2011 hit Cheers (Drink to That).

And while President Xi Jinping lacks the Barbadian’s vocal range and pulsating moves, news of his own booze preferences also seems to have a halo effect. After Xi visited a pub with UK leader David Cameron last month, the landlord told journalists that the Buckinghamshire bar had been deluged with Chinese tourists, all keen to eat the same fish and chips they’d seen their leader munching through. And they also wanted to try a pint of the beer he was swigging: in this case an Indian pale ale called Greene King IPA.

Xinhua reported this week too that interest in the beer is now extending beyond Chinese tourists in the UK. Back in China, hotels, bars and restaurants have been rushing to stock Greene King, creating a “sales storm” and surge in exports. Peter Bloxham, a Beijing-based British beer dealer who imports Greene King, says he normally sells around 6,000 bottles a month. But after Xi downed two pints of the stuff demand has increased so fast Bloxham expects to import 80,000 bottles in December alone. The brewery will no doubt hope that sales will rise further in China. And Cameron can take comfort that his ‘quick drink’ with Xi in the Plough at Cadsden has given British exports a minor boost.

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