When Vice’s “Munchies” site declared that “Expat Hipsters Are Taking Over Taiwan’s Craft Beer Scene” it seemed a little odd and inaccurate. (See the first reader comment!)
A quick search online in English pulls up this 2012 article from Taiwan Today talking about three local microbreweries. This one from 2010 in Taiwan Panorama. And also this Taiwan Fun article going back to 2004…
I guess it’s just a case of a Western media outlet doing its job covering the Western perspective, right?
It’s been on my mind because I was just at Le Blé d’Or last weekend having an impromptu afternoon beer at the Taipei Main Station location inside Q Square mall. And I thought to myself, holy cow, this place is huge.
So I thought I’d gather and share some information about Le Blé d’Or, the independent brewery that started the Taiwan craft beer scene 10 years ago…
11 Interesting Things About Le Blé d’Or:
1. The business was started by a father-son duo in 2002 after the Taiwanese government abolished the monopoly on tobacco and alcohol products. This was one of the conditions for joining the World Trade Organization.
2. The Yehs returned from Vancouver to Taiwan to found Le Blé d’Or, when the younger Yeh, Quentin, was only 23. Quentin is the brewer-in-chief.
3. The name is French for “Golden Malt”. Today they have 10 gastropubs around Taiwan and also one in China.
4. Le Blé d’Or uses premium local ingredients in its beer, including longan honey from Yunlin County in its signature honey lager. The honey lager won the gold medal for specialty beer at the 2009 Tokyo International Beer Competition.
5. The company didn’t make a profit for the first 7 years! Kind of like how Eslite didn’t make a profit in its first 15 years.
6. They commissioned Taiwan Glass Co. to custom-design a bottle for them with a German-style ceramic cap and a special insulating sleeve.
7. The “best-by” date for their beers is only 18 days.
8. You can buy bottles at the premium supermarkets, Jason’s and City’Super, as well as Costco.
9. The interiors of their gastropubs are really crazy. It’s like you stepped inside the Hogwarts dining hall or an Oktoberfest hall. See some photos of the Xinyi Eslite branch here.
10. Their website is in Chinese only – no English whatsoever – which goes to show they’re really catering to the local market, not the expat market.
11. Le Blé d’Or sponsored the Taiwanese team at last year’s inaugural 21U Baseball World Cup which was held in Taichung. The Taiwan team – I mean, “Chinese Taipei” team – won gold. Japan won silver. South Korea won bronze.
Photo Credit: Le Blé d’Or Facebook page