'Fountain of beer' bunged

Critics complain that Chinese festival display wasted resources

Aug 11, 2005 - The northeastern China city of Harbin vetoed a much criticized "beer fountain" during the Fourth Harbin International Beer Festival.


According to critics, the fountain sponsored by Harbin Brewery Group would have consumed 90 tons of beer - produced using 1,800 tons of water, 9,000 kilograms of coal, 14,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 18,000 kilograms of grain.

"It's OK for businesses to put up eye-catching ads but it's definitely not OK to squander public resources," said Liu Yu, a Heilongjiang University student. "We're not rich enough to squander scarce public resources like that. So many people cannot even afford a beer."

The brewery explained the fountain would have used limited resources. "We just wanted to highlight the beer culture that is deep-rooted in Harbin," said Fu Hui, chief operation manager of Harbin Brewery Group. "When we first tried the beer fountain, we only mixed one ton of beer though the capacity of the fountain pond was 400 tons. After all, to make it smell like beer is enough."

Fu insisted his company did not intend to waste that much grain or coal. "Even the beer we mixed was residue from our workshop that had to be thrown away anyway. We know well enough to economize. Our company's success is a rags-to-riches story."

Organizers of the beer festival declined to comment on the fountain, but before the festival started decided to replace beer with water at the fountain.

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