Copping a Brisbane tip from @250beers. Saccharomyces and Hoo Ha

27/11/2015 1 comment

After my post about Tomahawk, I received a comment from Brisbane beer blogger 250 Beers. He alerted me to a couple more beer venues that are close to the Brisbane Convention Centre. Both were outstanding and like me you should cop 250 Beer’s tip if you are ever in this part of Brisbane.​ Both are far more intimate and offer more variety than the gargantuan Charming Squire, a Malt Shovel brewhouse that seems like it covers half a block.


Ooh aah, Hoo Ha

Hoo Ha works hard. They are open from 7am until midnight. I popped in for a long black and perused a lovely little beer list. They’ve refurbed an old brick building beautifully and I’ll have to return to run through their taps, which looked intriguing. It turns out I was just around the corner from Hoo Ha when I was drinking at Tomahawk. Know for next time. 

That’s how you say it


Saccharomyces was his second tip, and like Hoo Ha this establishment is open from 7am during the week and goes all the way through to midnight. Unlike Hoo Ha, Saccharomyces is in a very modern building and has a very stark functional fit-out. I love the window benches that face out onto Fish Lane. The hero is the 10 tap wall, which sits over fridges stuffed full of some of Australia’s finest craft beers. Didn’t get to see the lunch menu, but it looks American and for each beer on the tap wall is a recommended food pairing. Looking forward to returning for a feed at some time in the future. And what’s the name mean? Saccharomyces is a family of fungus that includes multiple species of yeast. The website gives appropriate homage.

I don’t to get to Brisbane much at all these days, but it is great to see that there is a thriving beer scene to enjoy if I do. Great also to be exposed to a number of Newstead Brewing Co beers. Beer of the trip would have to be Newstead’s LiquidAmbar. Stunning beer, without being too heavy.




Saccharomyces Beer Café: Fish Lane, South Brisbane, Queensland

Hoo Ha Bar: 41 Tribune Street, South Brisbane, Queensland

@TomahawkBar – craft beer oasis in South Bank, Brissie

26/11/2015 1 comment

In situ post (so it’ll be brief)

In Brisbane for a conference at the Exhibition Centre with an hour to kill before the big dinner. The conference and exhibition centre is just behind South Bank, which is an entertainment precinct. Restaurants, cinemas and man-made beaches which were probably copping a flogging today.



Went for an amble and stumbled across this wonderful little place called Tomahawk. “Craft Beer in South Bank”. Indeed it is! 14 taps (13 in use) with some really new stuff. And there’s two fridges stuffed with an eclectic range of all styles including 5 11%+ ABV stouts. Read the tap list for yourself, but it updated whilst I was here. They do growlers and tallies for takeaway as well.


Taps and taplist

Well priced food menu and terrific to see a kids menu at one of these types of places. Suddenly the conference got a whole lot better.

Address: Tomahawk Bar 5/182 Grey Street, South Brisbane

Tomahawk Bar

@GreatLeapBeer – Beijing’s behemoth boutique brewer

21/11/2015 1 comment


Great Leap Brewing

In 2010, Great Leap Brewing kicked off in Beijing as Beijing’s first craft brewer. Today, their beers are available in three wonderful bars/tap houses in Beijing and I’ve seen their beers in Hong Kong and Shanghai as well.

The logo near the entrance to Great Leap #45

Thus far it is a wonderful success story, that compares much more favourably to the outcome of Mao’s same-named Great Leap Forward programme of 1959- 1961. (An absolute shocker of an economic programme, it aimed to accelerate transformation in China, but resulted in a massive famine amongst other things and saw 10s of millions of deaths through starvation and terror).

20 taps!


n 2015, Greap Leap has 3 wonderful brew pubs scattered across the North East of Beijing. All three are worth visiting, though particular homage must be paid to the founding venue in Doujiao Hutong. Buried as deep as one can bury a brewpub in the hutongs of Dongcheng, this is a Beijing beer experience par excellence.


A beacon in the hutongs

All three venues offer 20 taps today are naturally dominated by Great Leap offerings. There is good camaraderie between the Chinese craft brewers and Great Leap has guest taps, which variously supported Boxing Cat, Monkey Bar and Slow Boat. In the Xinyuan Lu outlet a huge  laser cut steel map of Beijing shows the location of other craft brew outlets in Beijing. 
The original venue is a compact classic. It has a courtyard and a small bar, but still manages to offer 20 taps. There’s no room for a kitchen, but they’ve done a terrific job of organising local restaurants to deliver all variety of cuisines. A unique twist on BYO food, which is a terrific concept.  

The other two venues are monsters and would compete with similar venues in the US for fit-out, beer variety and food options. Both have polished concrete floors, exposed pipes, and steel and wood seating. Very industrial and modern. The punters seem to love it. Plenty of food options prepared onsite. #45 has gone for pizzas as its shtick and #12 has a broader menu of US style comfort food like burgers etc

Tianenmen at night. (i also played tourist)

The best t-shirts in Beijing are made by Plastered 8. Cleverly, Great Leap get Plastered 8 to make their t-shirts for them. Top quality and worth the 100RMB. That’s the kind of place Great Leap is. No expense spared.


Great Leap Original: 6 Doujiao Hutong, Dongcheng, Beijing

Great Leap #12: 12 Xinzhong Street, Dongcheng, Beijing

Great Leap #45: 45 Xinyuan Street, Chaoyang, Beijing (just off the street, look for the lit up iron logo)


Vale Bill Cooper @coopersbrewery

Condolences to the Cooper family from all at Back of the Ferry


Categories: Beers Tags: ,

Arrow Factory Brewing and NLGX’s demise

18/11/2015 1 comment


South Luogu Ally

A big disappointment of this trip to Beijing has been the demise of Nanluogu Xiang or NLGX (from a bar perspective). This wonderful alley was jammed with all sorts of crazy little bars. I reckon there were at least 20 and each had their own shtick. One bar, which had no discernible name, offered patrons a free drink if they’d kiss each other for 1 minute without break. A Polaroid would be taken of the smooch and the front window was a gallery of kissers. It became lazily known as Kiss Bar. There was also Australian representation. Neds (as in Kelly) was a cheap boozer selling VB with lashings of Ozzie paraphernalia that probably isn’t missed. 12SQM Bar (named for the size of its floor space) was allegedly Beijing’s smallest bar and served up Coopers Pale and real Australian meat pies. It was the full stop on a couple of NLGX pub crawls, including my farewell from Beijing in 2009. A handful of bars remain, but only Salud has any real pull.

12SQM – Coopers and Meat Pies

To a some extent, the nearby Wudoying Hutong, has stepped up to fill the void. I had been tipped by Henry, the Vermont Brewer at Drunk, to a tap room close to Wudoying – and a pleasant surprise was a number of quaint little bars offering some unique experiences.

Panda Brew – tiny

Ben bar is decorated head to toe in Tibetan stuff and served up a Tibetan Green Barley beer. V Bar is a Vampire Bar which was Halloween themed all year around. And Panda Brew has a tiny 18 seat bar serving 5 of its beers on tap.

My target however was the Arrow Factory Brewing Tap Room, which shared premises with a restaurant (Stuff’d) specialising in sausages. This was a lovely Beijing beer experience.

Arrow Factory Brewing

Arrow Factory Brewing and Stuff’d can be found down a Hutong that comes of Wudaoying Hutong. A light beckons you to what is quite a small space.
There’s a number of tables at the front for dining and there’s a bar at the back. The bar offers more than just beer, but four taps provide four Arrow Factory Brewing beers. Sausages dominate the food menu, although pizzas are available. The sausages are big and packed with spices and chilli depending on your choice. 8 or so standards and that week’s special. The standard way to eat the sanga is is a bun with caramelised onion, but I opted for stand alone. Stuff’d is generous with its condiments.

 The taps take a similar approach – 3 standards and the latest limited batch. A ginger saison was the batch when I visited. Plenty of ginger (my favourite rhizome), but not much saison – pleasant nonetheless. Of the three standards – a Hefe, a helles and an IPA – the standout was the unctuous, piney “Seeing Double” IPA. After the overwhelming choice of Slow Boat and Great Leap, Arrow provides a lovely, simple beer experience. So, if you make it to Beijing, cop Henry of Vermont’s tip and it a visit. 

Ben Bar, V Bar, Panda Brew. Wudaoying Hutong, DongCheng District, Beijing (Between Yonghegong Street and Jianching Hutong)

Arrow Factory Brewing: 9 Jianchang Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing

Salud: 66 NanluoguXIang, Dongcheng District, Beijing

Jackie’s Beer Nest and Yongkang Lu

Confucius Say

There’s plenty to like about Shanghai. Deservedly the view from the Bund across to the Blade Runner cityscape dominates dispatches, but there’s plenty of reward if you are prepared to go walking. Buried amongst built up suburbia is a wonderful temple to Confucius, built in the 14th century. Once your templing is done, you can treat yourself to beer nearby at one of the most unusual tap houses I’ve ever found – Jackie’s Beer Nest.

Opening hours 5pm -10pm

This tiny, tiny bar has more taps than it can fit people inside. There’s 40 taps and Jackie (whom I met) loves the Kiwis. Tuatara, Epic, 8 Wired in Shanghai? Who’d have thought it? Well, Jackie has. The nest is in amongst some great street seating restaurants in Zhaozhou Road. He’s a lovely fellow. Opening hours are 5pm – 10pm. 

Seriously small tap room


He’s also turned his hand to brewing himself and he offered up a ginger and date beer, which was actually quite tasty. Maybe inspired by Epic’s Fig Stout. Thanks, Jackie, you provided one of the highlights of my trip.

Jackie and a rack of NZ’s finest

A more conventional beer destination is Yongkang Lu. This strip of bars and restaurants caters for pretty much every taste. Portuguese, Mexican, Irish to name a few. I was tipped to the Tap House, which provides a little more room than Jackie’s. 18 or so high quality taps with Mikkeller dominant. Plenty of outdoor seating available for people watching as well. Great to have options beyond Shanghai Brewing and Boxing Cat (not that they aren’t great places).

The Tap Room & Mikkeller


Jackie’s Beer Nest: 76 ZhaoZhou Lu, Huangpu, Shanghai

The Tap House: 74 Yongkang Lu, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai

Beijing bar observations

08/11/2015 1 comment

So there’s been plenty of changes to the Beijing bar scene since my last visit. Plenty of bars have gone and the craft beer culture has started. There’s a couple of perennials, but for mine (and maybe it’s looking backwards through rose coloured nostalgic eyes), the edge has come off. 

Huxleys – cheap Houhai drinking


The Den remains constant and doesn’t look like anything has changed at all. Still the place for sport and expats first arriving. Huxley’s near Hoihai also hasn’t changed and guarantees a cheap drink. Very few of the Nan Luogu Xiang dives exist anymore, but Reef, 16mm and Salud are hanging in there.

The Den, nBeer, Beer Supermarket

What’s gone

My old mate Pat from the Pommegranate has left his bar the Green Cap and it’s changed its name. No reason to go now that Pat has left. Many of the bars in NLGX with terrifying ladders to rooftops have gone. Ned’s and 12SQM Bar have also gone. One of my all time favourites was the Drum & Bell, which sat between the two eponymous towers. All the bars around here have disappeared. Stumble Inn has also gone from Sanlitun. Only one bar (Nashville) remains in (perhaps not so) Lucky Bar Street.


Last standing in Lucky Street

New comers

I’m sure there’s a slew of newcomers in the Cocktail bar/nightclub scene, but from a beer drinker’s perspective the developments are positive. The Belgians and Germans wave the flag with a slew of Chinese run beer bars all over town. The weirdest was Dream Beer Supermarket on Houhai, which served an eclectic range of Belgian and Spanish beers, many of which I hadn’t seen. Tiny spot. All around Houhai are empty 5l barrels of obscure German beers.

5l dead marines

Craft beer bars are emerging and some will be discussed in detail. NBeer is in the second division that I described in a previous post. In Building 6 of the Soho complex opposite Sanlitun, it has a great tap set up, but plenty weren’t working and the staff had no clue. They’ve got another outlet somewhere. A discovery is a very new brew bar in the Wangfujing area. This high end shopping street close to Tian’enmen Square is a bar desert – except for this place called Drunk. Henry from Vermont does the brewing and it is very early days. He’s got a fair wheat on the go and when they shift a ton of German beer, he’ll get more brews down. Never thought I’d have a Tank 7 saison on tap in Beijing. Good luck, Henry.

Drunk in Wangfujing


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