Who makes it: Tibet Lhasa Brewery in Lhasa, Tibet. They claim to be the world’s highest commercial brewery and the only one in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
What kind of beer is it: Pale Lager. According to Lhasa, they use Himalayan spring water, Tibetan barley and Saaz hops.
What I thought of the beer: Lhasa’s a standard lager with grainy malt flavors and a mild hop bitterness in the finish. It’s drinkable and that’s about it. What’s really interesting is the background information on the brewery.
Dzambuling, the US company that imports Lhasa, claims that the production of Lhasa is helping the Tibetan people, pointing out that 72% of Lhasa’s employees are ethnic Tibetans and that 10% of the company’s profits are donated to “support philanthropic intervention in Tibet.” That’s in direct contrast with a petition that says that Lhasa is partially owned by a Communist Chinese company and should be boycotted because of the Communist Chinese treatment of Tibetans and the use of beer production to “erode Tibetan culture” by increasing alcoholism rates. The petition is a little over-the-top, but the Lhasa website says the brewery is owned by “a domestic corporation” and Denmark’s Carlsberg Group, and who knows who the domestic corporation is? Also, you’ve got to wonder how much Carlsberg gives a shit about preserving Tibetan culture.
Don’t believe all the horrible reviews of Lhasa on ratebeer.com. I thought it was a drinkable lager with no offensive flavors. The whole ethical dilemma behind the brewery is another matter. I’m not sure what to believe.