Today Alistair, Nick and I toured the Tang Shan brewery, where they make Tung beer. Our students at the brewery - directors, managers and the boss himself - invited us yesterday.
It was a lot of fun. We met up with two of them and a driver at the school at 10:45am, then were taken to the brewery, which is more or less behind where Alistair and I live, a bit to the north and east. We were greeted by a few of our other students, and shown to the owner's office. I was offered an extremely expensive cigarette (one pack of twenty is 150 yuan) and we chatted as our various other students were assembled. I got to see where my student, a finance manager, worked (holy nice office). Then we were given hats and safety glasses, and off we went.
We hit the room for the mash boiler, rice cooker, and Launter mixer first. A pretty sterile room that Alistair noted "looks like a Bond villain lair", complete with control room with bright toggles, buttons and switches. Since they weren't in production at the time, we were able to pop open the hatches to the five tanks and peer down into them.
Then we went below to see all the mechanical works. Terry Gilliam would have had a field day with all the ducts and pipes. Then we saw the fermentation tanks, and the filtration and cleaning areas of the brewery. Very cool. Like vast rooms of sexy stainless steel. Apparently, they make up to 500 tonnes of beer a day in peak (read: summer) times. Pipes, pipes and more pipes. It was quite something to see. So much goes into beer-making... everything from a centrifuge to separate bacteria from the fermented beer to a machine that turns hard-water soft. We didn't get to see the bottling lines since they weren't going at the time.
After the one-hour tour, we all walked south a block or two to a "famous" restaurant - famous apparently for dumplings. We all filed into a quiet room and a case of beer was popped open. Thus began the biggest early afternoon drunk since 1999 (for me). It was non-stop gan bei's and toasts/thanks. I had a few new dishes today: cow stomach (chilled), jellyfish (chilled) and sole. We also had crab, pork, mogu (mushrooms), two types of shrimp, two other kinds of fish, dumplings, a few chicken dishes, spare-ribs, about six other dishes, and beer, beer, beer. Dear god... I have no clue how these guys went back to work after that. Nick had five bottles (720 ml), Alistair and I each had three, plus I shared a 4th with my student, Xiang Li. Nine of us finished off a case of twenty-four Tung plus six more.
I'll post later tonight, also, since we have our first work social event happening: bowling. Everyone will be there, which means 8 teachers (6 of us minions + the DoS + our new DoS, Andrew, from Qinhuangdao), 3 Sales, 6 assistants, 1 accounts manager and the coordination manager. I'm with Duncan, Julia (coord manager) and Betty, a new assistant who helps me out for one class. It should be fun, and I plan on taking many more pictures.
I just hope there isn't any beer...