Ep. 7 - Carl Setzer of Great Leap Brewing in Beijing Talks COVID-19 and Chinese Craft Beer


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Carl arrived in China for the first time in 2004, having just graduated from college in Alabama. He originally was going to teach English in Wuhan, the city where the COVID-19 virus is suspected of starting, but he then moved to teach English to business executives in a nearby town. After teaching, Carl returned to the states and got a masters degree in international political economy and learned Mandarin. He moved back to China in 2008, right before the Olympics, and quickly got married to his wife and business partner. She was the one who encouraged him to find a hobby that made him happy and in a tale familiar to many American brewers, it turned out to be homebrewing. The couple moved to Beijing in 2009 and he started serving beers to friends in a small courtyard complex from his small homebrewery. That setup quickly garnered a lot of attention and soon 50-60 people a night were coming by for beers. He quickly made the transition to a professional outfit, starting up his brewery in 2010.

Carl and his wife now operate a series of brewpubs and production facilities in Beijing and elsewhere in China.

When COVID-19 broke out, Carl had some tough decisions to make. While he ran a sizable and growing brewery operation, his wife was also entering her third trimester and the couple learned they would have trouble accessing prenatal care. Accustomed to working remotely, they decided to return to his native Ohio to wait things out. Soon thereafter, the virus came to the states, China closed its borders to non-citizens, and he finds himself in Ohio until that policy is lifted. All the while, he and his wife are running a massive brewing operation from thousands of miles away.

Having seen the virus for a few months more than American brewers have, Carl has some timely perspective that could help many American craft brewers deal with the current crisis. He also has some pretty engaging stories to tell about doing business in China.

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  • Hosts: Andy Crouch and John Holl
  • Guests: Carl Setzer
  • Tags: beer, craft beer, Chinese craft beer, COVID-19, Great Leap Brewing, Ohio beer, Beijing beer

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