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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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). I
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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).
Jackie’s Beer Nest: 76 ZhaoZhou Lu, Huangpu, Shanghai
The Tap House: 74 Yongkang Lu, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.