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Professional beer taster ensures brews are the best suds

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong | (chinadaily.com.cn) | 2019-08-22

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Zhu Lei, 35, is a professional beer taster at Tsingtao Beer. [Photo by Li Zhiyong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

How would you like to be a professional beer taster? For some, it could be one of the coolest jobs in the world by working with so many beer products. For Zhu Lei, a gifted female beer taster from Tsingtao Beer, the job means patience, prudence and professionalism.

More than 100 ingredients can affect a beer's flavor. The 35-year-old Zhu is capable of telling subtle differences among the ingredients. As her colleagues say, she can "perceive a spoon of salt from a ton of water".

"To judge a beer, I first observe its color, transparency and foams, and see whether there are sediments. Then I smell its freshness and purity and I can tell if there is any unpleasant odor or not," Zhu said.

"Finally, I swallow the beer and judge its quality and aroma," she added.

Zhu is also sensitive to brewing materials that affect beer taste, such as water, rice, fermentation broth and kieselguhr, as well as bottle caps, cans and water used to clean the bottles.

"As professional beer tasters, we should give objective evaluations and suggestions for further improvement in the brewing process," said Zhu.

Back in 2002 after graduation, Zhu was a packer on a production line. She stood out in a beer tasting contest in 2005and then a new chapter opened in her career.

"When I took the bus back home after work, passengers would give me a weird look as my breath reeked of beer," Zhu recalled her early years as a beer taster.

In order to guarantee the accuracy of her tasting, Zhu gave up using cosmetics and refuses her favorite Sichuan cuisine, which is famous for being hot and spicy.

Thanks to these efforts Zhu earned designation as the youngest national-level beer taster in 2010; and only 55 professionals across the country had this highest honor at that time.

In Zhu's opinion, beer is "a drink of God". Raw materials such as barley, hops and yeast for brewing beer are all natural substances, while a beer is rich in enzymes, amino acids and inorganic salts, which are all beneficial to health.

"Beer is a thing of art and drinking beer is a happy experience," Zhu said.

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Zhu Lei is observing a fermentation facility at Tsingtao Beer. [Photo by Li Zhiyong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

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Zhu Lei works on a production line at Tsingtao Beer in Qingdao of East China's Shandong Province.  [Photo by Li Zhiyong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

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Zhu Lei (left) observes a glass of beer with a colleague at Tsingtao Beer. [Photo by Li Zhiyong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

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Zhu Lei (center) smells brewing ingredients with her colleagues at Tsingtao Beer. [Photo by Li Zhiyong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

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Zhu Lei, 35, is a professional beer taster at Tsingtao Beer. [Photo by Li Zhiyong/for chinadaily.com.cn]