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Local Flavored Craft Beer as a Cultural Ambassador to the World | Realpreneur Tales


Chongqing - In the heart of Chongqing, known for its unique landscape and lively street scenes, Caver Bar stands out by utilizing historical air raid shelters to create a distinctive drinking experience. With rustic stone walls and vintage décor, it attracts tourists and locals alike.

During World War II, Chongqing built numerous air raid shelters to protect civilians from Japanese bombing raids. These shelters were carved into hillsides or constructed underground and are now repurposed for different uses, such as museums and restaurants.

Qin Xiaochao, founder of Hops Craft Beer. (Photo/Chen YingZhu)

Caver, founded by Qin Xiaochao of Hops Craft Beer, exemplifies creative reuse and cultural innovation of air raid shelters. Established in 2020 after two years of meticulous design and construction, the bar is centrally located in Yuzhong District, near Li Ziba Station on Chongqing Rail Transit (CRT) Line 2. It is renowned for its unique monorail passing through a building.

Qin elaborated on the unique appeal of Caver,  "Caver represents a distinct aspect of Chongqing. With its abundance of air raid shelters, Chongqing stands alone in this regard, making our bar in an air raid shelter truly one-of-a-kind worldwide," he said.

The name "Caver" draws inspiration from treasure hunters, reflecting Qin's desire to evoke an exploratory and adventurous spirit among his patrons. "The air raid shelter is irregular; irregular is the most fun," he said.

However, the journey to open Caver was fraught with challenges, particularly design and infrastructure. "Almost no interior designers have had experience with air raid shelters," Qin shared. 

He and his team pioneered innovative methods to adapt the cramped, irregular space into a functional environment. Each piece of furniture inside Caver is custom-made to optimize space utilization without compromising guest comfort.

Another significant challenge was waterproofing. Rather than sealing potential leaks, which might create water pressure issues elsewhere, Qin's team chose a strategic approach by installing diversions at seepage points to manage water effectively.

Due to its proximity to Liziba Station, Caver naturally attracts many foreign tourists. In contrast, Qin's other venture, Hops Craft, caters to a clientele that values traditional wine culture, showcasing the diversity in Qin's business ventures.

Hops Craft Beer earns international silver medal

During his college years in Japan, Qin discovered a passion for craft beer inspired by the cozy settings of local bars. Returning to Chongqing, he recreated this ambiance while staying true to his origins, blending it with local cultural elements to appeal to a broader audience.

For example, Qin's innovations include the Laoying Tea Lager, which blends local tea flavors with beer, and the Chenghua India Pale Ale (IPA), known for its tropical fruit and hop aromas, named after the local dialect term for "umbrella."

Under Qin's leadership, Hops Craft Beer has experienced substantial growth, distributing its products to over 100 bars nationwide and achieving an annual turnover exceeding three million yuan. Operating as a gypsy brewery, Hops utilizes equipment from other breweries to produce their distinctive recipes.

His business model has enabled widespread distribution and garnered international recognition. Hops Craft Beer earned a silver medal in the lager category at last year's International Beer Cup in Japan.

Qin humorously compared winning the award in Japan to a foreigner receiving a silver medal for mastering the art of making hot pot in Chongqing, acknowledging the achievement's cultural significance and international recognition.

Hops has forged partnerships with esteemed restaurants like Beijing's Michelin-recommended Pang Mei Noodles, where their Tianfu Lele and Laoying Tea craft beers are proudly served as part of the dining experience.

Looking forward, Qin is optimistic about the future of craft beer. "Craft beer will continue to diversify and specialize," he stated confidently, anticipating a growing trend towards more varied and distinctive beer offerings.


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