The Birthplace of Taiwan Beer
By Josephine Lin Translated by Lisa Chiu Photos provided by Chienkuo Brewery

While many people like to drink Taiwan Beer, most are probably unfamiliar with its history. As it turns out, Taiwan Beer originated at the Chienkuo Brewery in Taipei, making this is the best place to learn about it.

The brewery, located on BaDe (PaTeh) Road, section 2, was built in 1919 during Japanese colonial era and was in fact the only brewery on the island at that time. It eventually became as well known as the famous Sapporo Brewery in Hokkaido, Japan. After Taiwan's retrocession in 1945, this plant was placed under the authority of the Taiwan Provincial Tobacco and Liquor Monopoly Board. Its name was subsequently changed to the Taipei Beer Company and, later, to the Taipei Second Brewery. In 1975, it was officially named the Chienkuo Brewery.

The brewery is currently 83 years old and is one of the best examples of Taiwan¡¦s industrial development, culture and beer-making technology.
When this brewery first opened, it had an annual production capacity of more than 1.5 million bottles. Over the years, production increased, reaching a peak of more than 144 million bottles in 1992. That same year, automated computer-controlled production and environmental protection equipment was installed, creating a modern beer-making facility with a staff of 700 employees.

Over the years, Taiwan Beer has won many international awards and has sold well in Taiwan and abroad. Today, the brewery itself is also recognized for its historical value. In July, 2000, the Taipei City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau designated the brewery as a historical monument. When looking at the brewery's red building, green building, cooling room, boiler room and many wooden structures, it is possible to see the evolution in Taiwanese architecture. Moreover, the type of red bricks on the red building are the same as those used to build the Presidential Palace.

In one of the machine rooms, there is one of the few open-type traditional fermentation barrels in the world. There are also four large copper kettles used to ferment sugar. These kettles were specifically imported from Germany more than 30 years ago. Each barrel has very unique design with a curved neck like that of a swan. There are currently only 10 of these kettles remaining in the world.

Due to complaints from residents in the area about the noise and air pollution produced by this brewery, it almost closed last year, as the Monopoly Bureau felt it would be best to move it to southern Taiwan. However, the Executive Yuan stepped in and suggested that the brewery be preserved and continue production. Currently, the facility is managed by the city government's Civil Planning Department. The bureau plans to make the beer factory into a recreational area, providing food, entertainment, cultural education and historical exhibitions on Taiwan's beer production. This project is likely to be completed and opened to the public in 2005. In addition, two hectares of the brewery's property have been turned over to build a junior high school.

Due to the noise and air pollution created during production, the brewery is not usually open to the public, except for occasional community activities. However, groups may arrange a brewery tour, led by an experienced staff member. During the tour, the guide explains the history of the brewery, as well as the steps involved in producing beer. For further information, call (02) 2771-9131.