It started with the simple idea of finding out what was truly the top selling beer by unit. Jay and I were both surprised and curious that we’d not heard of it before. It made sense that it was a Chinese beer on top because China. But Kingfisher wasn’t on the top ten lists we found researching Snow Beer, and we’ve had a Kingfisher many times. Further research was needed and the desire to quench the quest grew. And we weren’t the only people in the US whose curiosity was piqued.
SABMiller, the second-largest brewer by revenue in the world, was jointly responsible for this beer quest. The other party was China Resources Enterprises, a conglomerate that produces and sells many things. Together, they created CR Snow Brewery and took over the beer world.
I don’t believe this to be a white whale quest, because it exists…in massively massive quantities. We had hoped the Asian grocery markets in the San Francisco Bay Area would carry it. But visits to a couple were fruitless — well, Snow-less (they all have tons of fruit).
Thoughts that an email to SABMiller could point us in the right direction were also unsuccessful. A detailed email with several points and inquiries was replied to with, if it wasn’t a form email, it was a cut and paste job in template form. Despite bringing up that many sources said “specialty retailers” in the US stocked the beer and whether online availability was an option, the response just said the beer was not sold in the US.
I am the kind of person that throws myself into things, not just what I am interested in but also things that frustrate me. So I called SABMiller’s US headquarters the next day, which was MillerCoors in Chicago. The customer service rep that answered was very kind and forthcoming, but it was mostly about his lack of information. From the information he had access to, it only listed Snow Beer as a brand in their family but no other details. I was the one that told him it was said to be sold exclusively in China. He said, that is probably why they have no information. I mentioned that it was his company in partnership with China Resources and he had mentioned that it was very likely that distribution is handled by them and not Miller. But he wanted to help me get more information, really going beyond what I would have expected of the usual brusque interactions I’ve had with other customer service reps. He said that all Miller beers in San Francisco are handled by DBI Beverage and gave me their number.
I eagerly waited until after 9am local time to call DBI, thinking that they would only answer during regular business hours. It was an anxious hour of waiting. And when I called, I expected an automated system to answer. Instead, I was greeted with another very helpful person. However, she had no clue about Snow Beer and her system didn’t list it anywhere. I shared what I knew about Snow and updated her on my search. She was apathetic, but admitted she had no other leads to provide. Then she just started naming off other Asian beers they handled there. Tsingtao, Asahi, Kirin, thinking I just wanted Asian beer. I thanked her and mentioned again, I was just searching for the top beer in the world. The call ended without a new lead.
I pivoted and focused my search online. Ebay had empty Snow Beer cans for sale. The best lead was a listing for a 40’x40’ container of Snow Beer for sale through Alibaba’s Wholesale Online site. Even there, it seemed questionable because of the countries linked to shipping. Besides, I didn’t really need a shipping container full of beer. But maybe this was how “specialty retailers” in the US were able to get their hands on Snow Beer.
However, this first foray into procuring Snow Beer in the US was done. I made an initial effort, but needed to reset and see if there were new avenues toward being able to walk into someplace in San Francisco and seeing a can or bottle of that elusive beer that is now so familiar to me in my head. I’m hoping part 2 will have a better ending.
Maybe I should have been asking for Mons Beer?