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Discovering back-alley baijiu in Ningbo

I was bike-sploring old villages around a large lake on the outskirts of Ningbo, on China's eastern coast, when I saw a man making what I thought was maybe soft tofu. Silly me. Closer inspection revealed the soy beans to be rice. And the contraption the man was tending to was a homemade distillery. With the aid of a translation app it was confirmed. He was making moonshine baijiu - that potent Chinese rice wine that almost nobody outside China likes but it seems to be a staple in Chinese restaurants around the globe. Here's how it went down...

We were riding through villages like this.

When suddenly I saw a sweet little homemade distilling operation next to a canal.

After chatting with the guy a few minutes, with Google to the rescue, here let me try it. Amazing actually, very natural, ricey, earthy, warm and fresh. Turns out it was about 70% alcohol by volume or 140 proof. Still not a huge fan of baijiu but great experience!

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