Beijing Bachelors are colloquially referred to during the northern hemisphere summer holidays as a consequence of their spouses and siblings escaping the Metropolis for home or more serene landscapes. Typically this period see’s “BB’s” frequent local watering holes (more often than normal) in search marginally better conversion than the adopted new Labrador at home who only responds to questions in Zhong Wen.
The curiously named Swan with Two Necks has featured previously on BotF during Bladdamasters recent sojourn and is slowly becoming this North Asian correspondents replacement for the much loved Pomegranate although I still lament it’s sudden and heart wrenching demise.
De Konick was a very welcome Belgium surprise at the Swan with Two Beaks. Given this is a live post unfortunately further research doesn’t accompany the dialogue. However this is indeed a nice Kilkenny styled darker brew with subtle hints of liquorish and mint. One is left a little wanting with the size of the Stubbie at 330 mls but it has a medium slug at 5.6%.
Unfortunately the bar men refused hold the Stubbie to Zhao Zhao Pian for professional code of conduct reasons.
BotF’s north Asia correspondent is in the process of experiencing a third summer in Beijing and never ceases to be amazed by the temperatures ranges experienced here throughout the year. North China quite literally has a variation of no less than about 55-60 degrees celsius; from -15’s in the depths of winter to +40’s in the peak of summer. Last weekend we experienced the upper end of the range with temperatures pushing mid 40’s. Köppen climate classification officially categorizes Beijing as being located in a “humid continental climate” zone or a region typified by large temperature differences with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. Summers are great for sampling cold to very cold beers and winters are good for sampling … slightly less cold to very cold beers. Anyway enough about the climate and onto more important matters.
The curiously named Ahornberger brewery is located in central western Germany approx. 20 kilometers west of the Czech Republic in the tiny village Ahornberg. The sampled offing was Feines Ahornberger Landbier Marzen chilled to slightly before freezing. The “Marzen” sampled is a pale lager but its origins are in Bavaria and which according to the Bavarian Beer ordinance decreed in 1539 could only be brewed between 29th September and the 23rd April. Originally it was described as a dark brown full-bodied beer. However it could be described as being at the opposite end of the beer complex now that the Germans have hold of it and is a very flavorsome pale ale. They appear to be working hard to capture some of the China market and the entire back label is in Chinese characters but it is not bottled here. So do yourself a favour and keep an eye out for Ahornberger but please ensure to get the pronunciation right before asking for one.
A highlight of my 2009 stint in China was spending time at the Pomegranate, as has oft been recorded on this blog. Its unfortunate closure and demise has also been recorded here, but I couldn’t help but pull by the old site one more time. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw and the photo you see I thought would be my last memory.
Fortunately for the Northern citizens of Beijing, the former manager of the Pomegranate has opened up his very own bar. The gregarious, generous and unflappable Pat Walsh has opened up The Green Cap. It’s a little closer to town that the Pomegranate, but retains most of the same features. There’s sport, sport and more sport available. It’s possible to get great food from the restaurant next door and Pat still manages to put on a weekly trivia quiz. It’s much smaller than the Pomegranate – but it’s a great little place and it rocked when the trivia quiz was in full cry. The Guinness is first rate, and there’s a good bar fridge and some other decent tap beer. Pat (he’s in pink below) and his fiance will ensure you are never dry.
It was great to catch up with the old crew, including the January 2009 Beijing collective as well as Sinc – who arrived much earlier than the Collective. One of the Collective had left me a cryptic email saying that he had a gift for me, but didn’t get around to mailing it – and wasn’t sure I’d want it anyway. After the first shout, Eric from Illinois reached under the table and placed a heavy bag on the bar table. Inside was the most marvellous gesture – a brick from the site that was the Pomegranate. This permanent reminder now sits in the Cantina and I can totally understand why it wasn’t mailed. Thanks, Eric.
We didn’t do too well in the trivia quiz. Pat’s efficient service and a desire to catch up on old times, meant that concentration was poor. We were also pissed. That said – it was a wonderful night, and if you ever get to Beijing, you could do much worse than visit The Green Cap. It has the best motto of a pub that I can recall – “Average at Best”. With a saying like that, you’ve just got to buy the shirt – I did. Hopefully it won’t be my last time there.
Since I’ve been in China, I’ve drunk plenty of mediocre beers – until I arrived in Beijing. I’d also been eating plenty of Chinese food – not so mediocre, but it was time for a change. I’d heard about Slow Boat Brewery somewhere on the beer twitter/bloggerverse and was very keen to try their stuff. You can’t read a Beijing expat magazine without hearing about Home Plate Bar B-Que.
First to Slow Boat Brewery. This a craft/micro brewery operating out of Beijing. They do the usual craft brewery thing and have a couple of standard brews and a range of seasonals. Chandler and Daniel are two Americans that have set it all up in a suburb to the north of Beijing, called Changping and they’ve done well. I was lucky enough to try one of each on tap in the award winning restaurant – Home Plate Bar-Que. First up was a “Pacific Northwest Red Ale”. I love my beers opaque and this was a classic cloudy red beer. Very substantial with a good bitter kick at the end. A really, really good beer. Next was the “Citra Mango IPA”. This is a seasonal and despite the name – has no mango it it. It is an unusual beer, with a definite tropical taste. This should be re-released in summer, when Beijing gets stinking hot.
It seems weird, but some of the best American food I’ve eaten outside of the USA, has been in Asia. Home Plate Bar B-Que does a wonderful range of barbecue classics and the prices are sensational. My pulled pork roll was 35RMB – just an absolute bargain for something so good. There’s inside and outside dining and in addition to Slowboat being on tap – there is a bar fridge that is stacked with an eclectic range of beers. If you go to Beijing – you’ve just got to go here.
In fact, I was so impressed with the place I actually paid for my souvenir beer glass. The Slowboat Brewery logo really cries out to be put on a t-shirt – just a great logo, whether in neon or on a glass. Good luck, boys (both at Home Plate and Slow Boat). By the way, two of your beers are now on @untappd.
It’s great to discover a new place in Beijing. It’s disappointing I found it on my last day here. The Drei Kronen 1308 Bruahaus is a full on Bavarian Tavern near the Worker’s Stadium that offers great beer and food.
The joint is huge with 3 levels, built around a massive atrium which provides views of the expansive bar and brewing kettles. Yep – they brew their own beer here. Apparently one of 5 in China, Drei Kronen is a Bavarian brewery that is building brewpubs in Asia. They will be opening one in Bali soon.
They make 3 brews on site using German ingredients – a standard lager, a dark lager and a traditional wheat beer. The dark lager was reasonable. Quite malty, but a little thin for mine – still eminently drinkable and probably the choice for a big session. The Felsen Weisse was an absolute knockout. Wonderfully aromatic, with banana dominating – it also looks magnificent in its purpose built glass. It was stunningly fresh and effervescent with plenty of malt flavour. As good as any wheat beer I’ve tried.
The best surprise came with the bill. I hadn’t noticed the Happy Hour sign. This is the happiest Happy Hour for punters I’ve seen with a genuine half price deal for 6 hours! $4.40 for 500ml is great value when the beer is so good. Put Drei Kronen on the Beijing to do list.
PS – sorry about the layout. Faceb0ok, Tw1tter and W0rdpress are blocked in China. The only way I can post is in Email format, which gives me no control over photo size and captioning. Maybe better luck in Honkers.
This beer is travelling at 309km on an engineering masterpiece – otherwise known as the Beijing-Shanghai Express. The beer is yet another “variety” from the Beijing Yanjing Brewery Co. Ltd. I’ve seen about 8 versions of Yanjing Beer since I’ve been here. I’m convinced it is all the same weak, watery beer flavoured fizzy water – just in different designed cans and bottles. It’s tough to avoid, due to its often exclusive ubiquity.
The Beijing-Shanghai Express is a fabulous way to travel. The 1318km journey is covered in a little under 5 hours and a ticket costs 555RMB or AUD$85. It flies along at over 300km for much of the journey and second class is very comfortable. The dining car is a cool place to hang and even has the smallest of bars. It could improve its menu, but then again they aren’t catering for laowei like me. There is no better way to travel between Shanghai and Beijing, particularly with the domestic air travel being so prone to delay. Given this isn’t run by NSW State Rail, everything here runs like clockwork.
For years the “Pomme” (as it is affectionately known) has been an Oasis for Laowei’s and an escape back to an almost normal bar scene with Guinness and Stella on tap.
The trivia night, annual Dinorock and the many footy games watched at the Pomme will be forever etched in the memory of those fortunate enough to partake in a truly unique experience.
It almost brought a tear to BoTF’s eye seeing your condition this afternoon combined with the gut wrenching realization that one can never again step inside your welcoming doors.
We’ve had two chili beers on this blog – a Chili Beer from Arizona and a chili flavoured stout from Canberra. The first was close to undrinkable, whilst the second was a really fine drink. Today, I was able to sample a chili beer from Australia’s Sunshine Coast Brewery. This is one of 9 beers available in the bottle from this brewery that has been going since 1998, though it changed hands in 2006. They’ve now got a restaurant set-up with at least 10 different beers on tap, including the Chili Beer. If you get to Maroochydore, this looks like the place.
The beer pours an almost orange colour with little head. I’d had it in the fridge for some time and the little birdseye chili in the bottle looked a little faded. There was some sediment in the glass that looked a little like chili powder. The first taste was quite fiery with the chili overwhelming the beer taste. I took a different approach to when I drank the chili beer from Arizona, and actually whilst I drank the beer. This made all the difference and the chili beer was a great accompaniment to the steak that I had. I’d go this again – hopefully in Maroochydore.
Today I received some sad news from Beijing. The favourite watering hole of Tony from Toowoomba and I in Beijing has either been demolished or is very soon for the wrecking ball. The Pomegranate was a courtyard house turned into a bar that was nestled in a village surrounded by a bunch of ex-pat compounds. These compounds are full of 4 story houses that rent for upwards of $20k a month. Well, it would appear that the Chinese economy continues to power on, as the village and the Pomegranate are to make way for another compound of oversized faux US/Spanish villas. Back of the Ferry – first with the economic news.
The Pomegranate was the scene of some fantastic nights, including music festivals, trivia quizzes, football marathons and a cleaver fight between the kitchen and bar staff. “progress” is sometimes sad.
A sublime Sydney evening saw our latest member be inducted. All the way from Toowoomba, via Beijing, Tony has reading about the joys of life on the BotF for some time, and had the opportunity to enjoy it first hand.
We were acutely aware of the wallopers, which does impinge on the enjoyment some what, but other than a perfunctory stroll by the guards – we were undisturbed.
Tony’s answers to the membership questions:
Favourite beverage: James Squire Amber Ale
Favourite sport to spectate: Rugby Union (Tests or Ben and Darce playing for the Beijing Lions)
Area of trivial expertise: Henry Lawson’s poetry (and we got a couple of stanzas)
We made a quick visit to the 4 Pines, which had an Irish Stout as their seasonal beer. If there is a finer winter beer – I’ve not had it. Outstanding. T from T only wishes they had a Beijing outlet.
Firstly, a great friend of BotF – Tony from Toowoomba – is being inducted as a fully fledged BotF member tomorrow evening. Probably aiming for the 6pm ferry, and we hope that the wallopers won’t be out. T from T is in Sydney for a brief time and will regale us with tales from Beijing. We’ll hunt for a 6 pack of Tsing-tao, but XXXX maybe also on the menu.
Secondly, BotF’s favourite band – Snaketide – has made the grand finals of the Manly Fishos International band competition, which will be held next Tuesday night. We won’t know what time the boys hit the stage as the line-up is determined by a draw on the night. Now, if you miss Myles, Ben, Muzza, Chris and of course Ken on Tuesday night – don’t despair. You can catch them on Friday night 30th playing a 45 minute set also at the Fishos. You can also hear a few of their tracks on jjj unearthed.