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An American made good in China with pub brewery

Updated: 2014-08-23 07:43
By Kurt Nagl (China Daily)

An American made good in China with pub brewery

The love for his Chinese wife pushed Carl Setzer to transform into a Chinese craft brewing pioneer. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Carl Setzer's transformation from mid-Western information technology guy to Chinese craft brewing pioneer can be attributed to one thing: love. He moved to the mainland in 2004 and married his Chinese wife, Liu Fang, shortly after. He worked as a "semi-successful" security analyst, and for a few years, life was good.

"I liked the job for a little while, but toward the end of my career, I resented it and didn't want to do it anymore," the 32-year old American says. "So my lovely wife suggested I come up with a hobby to distract myself from it."

In 2010, Great Leap Brewing was born. But at first, it seemed the business might be short-lived. Adhering to China's strict quality assurance and control, dealing with "greedy" landlords and scrambling for ingredients was a headache he probably would not have had in is native land, Seltzer says.

"Starting a business in China is very chaotic and confusing, and pretty much everything is a struggle," he says. "Every step of the way we have had setbacks and struggles but also opportunities to learn from mistakes and make the brand and business plan better."

Liu remembers the obstacles they encountered during their first years of operation. For a while, taxi was the only means of transferring materials to the brewery.

"We would have to sit in a taxi and go all the way south of the Fifth Ring in the middle of nowhere to pick up ingredients by ourselves," she says. 'We put 100 kilos of hops in the trunk, 50 kilos in the front seat and another 50 between Carl and me."

The hardships, however, have afforded the business some of its most valuable advantages. Instead of merely introducing the culture of craft beer, Seltzer blended it with local culture to create new, yet still traditional, products.

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