Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hitting the Naale on the head!

The 'one and only' proclaims the banner at the top of the famous Newcastle beer's label. How ironic!

In China, you are not quite so unique as you had supposed, Caledonian Brewery Co.! Last week in my local supermarket, I spotted this familiar-seeming can below. And I have to say, at first glance, at a distance - I was fooled. The distinctive five-pointed blue star on the yellow background, the lettering, the name beginning with 'New...': that was more than enough for me. I really thought Newkie had started mass-market distribution in China. Even when I noticed the price was only 3.50 rmb per can (a fifth, at most, of what you'd expect for an import), I wanted to believe that this was an inadvertent slip by the store's staff, a bank error in your favour.  Only on the third or fourth look did I realise that this product is in fact.... Newtaste Naale.... from the "USA Ale Development Company Limited".

I'm not sure if the Caledonian Brewery or the great country of the USA should be more aggrieved at this outrageous misrepresentation. This is what we call 山寨  - shanzhai: the fake or copycat products that are so ubiquitous here, and are mostly not quite good enough to fool anyone, but often cut significantly into the market share of the legitimate products they are aping anyway.

And what is this Naale like? Well, weird. It's a lot paler than Newcastle Brown, and what colour it has seems to have been created by the addition of a gloop of malt or caramel to the mixture. There is just a suggestion of the Newcastle Brown taste about it (though that might just be an illusion brought on by the similar packaging?), but very, very watered down. (It can't just be watered-down Newcastle Brown, can it? Well, this is China: it could be...) It's not exactly unpleasant; just odd.

Still, at 3.50 rmb for a half-litre can, it is VALUE.

No comments: