In the past decade, Beijing has transformed from a city where craft beer is rare, to one where it seems a new brew pub opens each week. Bottled imports dominated at first—and hundreds of options are now available—but far more interesting are the home-grown brews. Here is a blend of veteran and newbie pubs to explore the scene.
These brewers started in Beijing’s alleyways and then branched out. The taproom, just off Wudaoying Hutong, is a modestly sized venue beside sausage specialists Stuff’d. The newer brewpub, near Liangma River, is spacious and includes a rooftop on which to enjoy a pint or two. Lager fans should try Two Birds. Other popular options include Heart of Darkness Belgian Bruin, The Bitter End Rye P.A., and Back in Black Stout. Arrow Factory has plenty of pub grub, too, including the ‘Spice of Life’ sausage platter.
Arrow Factory Taproom (beside Stuff’d), 9 Jianchang Hutong, Beijing, +86 10 6408 7804
Arrow Factory Brewing, Liangma River South Road, Beijing, +86 10 8532 5335. Closed Mondays.
What started as two guys making beer in a kitchen, led to one of the city’s most popular brew spots. The 1949: The Hidden City venue offers an airy space with table, bar and outdoor seating. Regular beers include Workers Pale Ale, Koji Red Ale, Black Velvet Vanilla Stout and Airpocalypse Double IPA. Fun, seasonal brews like Watermelon Wheat and Smoked Chili Porter are also worth a try. If hungry, try the grilled cheese sandwiches or, on Wednesday nights only, the chili.
Jing-A Taproom, The Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Workers Stadium North Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, +86 10 (8610) 6501-8883
Great Leap Brewing
Great Leap Brewing (GLB) has three venues and numerous beers that leverage locally sourced hops, honey, Sichuan peppercorns and other ingredients. The hutong venue requires a meander through Beijing’s side streets but provides a respite from the chaos of the city.
The second venue, north of Workers Gymnasium, is bigger and has what some deem the city’s best cheeseburger. And the newest venue, also in the city’s heart, swaps burgers for New York-style pizza. Inexpensive beer options include Pale Ale #6, Cinnamon Rock Ale and Honey Ma Gold. Iron Buddha Blonde includes oolong tea, while their seasonal or frequent beer offerings, like Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Aggressor Scotch Ale, pack more punch.
Great Leap #6, 6 Doujiao Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, +86 10 5717 1399
Great Leap #45, 45 Xinyuan Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, +86 10 5947 6984
Slow Boat has a pair of venues: a one-room venue in the hutongs and a newer multi-story taproom in Sanlitun, the center of the city’s Western food and drink scene. The Monkey’s Fist IPA is a favorite of many customers, with other regular options including Captain’s Pale Ale and Sea Anchor. There are also seasonal beers such as Slutty Mermaid Triple IPA and Sea Level Chocolate Stout. In terms of pub grub, the fry burger—the fries are inside rather than on the side—is popular.
Slow Boat Brewpub, 6 Sanlitun South Street, Beijing, +86 10 6592 5388
Slow Boat Taproom, Dongcheng Qu, 56 Dongsi Ba Tiao, +86 10 6538 5537
Panda started as a tiny brewpub near Beixinqiao and then moved to a three-story flagship operation just a short walk away. On hand are plush versions of the brewpub’s namesake animal with which customers can hug or pose with. Try the Red Honey Ale, Too Young Wheat and Too Fool IPA. You can also grab Panda brews in the B1 mall area of the Topwin Center in Sanlitun.
Panda Beer, 14 Dongsi North Dajie (near Beixinqiao station), Beijing, +86 10 6408 7922
One of the many newcomers to open over the past two years, Flow is a nice stop when on a bar crawl in the Beixinqiao area. It offers both its own beers as well as those from other producers in town. The Whirling Wild Horse American Pale Ale and German wheat beer are both worth a try.
NBeer took things up a few notches this year by opening a huge venue in Wukesong, close to LeSports Center, the home of Beijing’s professional basketball and ice hockey teams and site of some of the city’s best concerts. This venue has a 40-tap system that will eventually include 20 house beers. The food menu includes kebabs, burgers and meter-long pizzas. Patrons can also peruse the “World Beer Bottle Museum” that features the owner’s collection of 7000-plus bottles from 70-plus nations.
Peiping Machine Factory
The long, bulky tables at this venue are perfect for group drinking sessions, and there’s also additional room at the bar. Peiping has more than 30 taps which cover a few house brews, plus options from around the city and the world. This is a good starting point for a night of drinking and eating in the Fangjia Hutong area.