Tony from Toowoomba and I spent our last night in Shanghai enjoying the delights of the French Concession. This part of Shanghai is a real joy to visit. The French Concession was a cool part of Shangahi to live in the 1920’s and remains so with many buildings from the early 1900’s preserved. It actually reminds me of the inner-city streets of Glebe or Newtown in Sydney. Many of the residential buildings have been preserved and are either still used as homes or have become boutiques or in rare cases brew pubs! (Come on down Boxing Cat Brewery) We had planned to have a walk around the French Concession before hitting a few bars, but with the heatwave continuing to grip Shanghai we were soon driven indoors. After a quick unexpected stop at Oscars – a tired old expat bar – we found our main target for the evening – the Shanghai Brewery.
Without doubt, the last time I visited Shanghai Boxing Cat Brewery was the discovery of that particular trip. On this particular evening, we found a venue to well and truly rival Boxing Cat and that is the French Concession outlet of the Shanghai Brewery. Shanghai Brewery launched its first outlet in 2010 and in 2012 the French Concession site was opened. They’ve done a fantastic job to find such a huge site. Two stories of really well appointed pub. The place was heaving and we struggled to get a spot on the bottom floor. We managed to grab a table for two upstairs and started to work our way through the Shanghai Brewery beer line-up. In addition to providing an awesome range of beers, the Shanghai Brewery dishes out huge plates of food and has plenty of televisions showing sport. I’d missed the Super 15 final and Tony and I watched the Brumbies v the Chiefs as we knocked off the beer list. Even though we knew the result it was still a very exciting game to watch. Gees the Brumbies had a go. Maybe they should just give that team gold jerseys and not worry about the other states.
The Shanghai Brewery beers were (almost) universally fantastic. TfT is a massive Hefeweizen fan and the Shanghai Brewery provides plenty of options. We started with the West River Weizen and it was an auspicious beginning. We then ripped into the Hong Mei Amber Hefeweizen and pretty much decided that our pub crawl was going to end here. This was a superb Hefe. We would have gone a second, but we had to work our way through the list and we moved onto the North Star IPA. This was well bittered and a fine example of the style – more American that British in style. We finished off with the Black Eyed Bear Stout. We toasted the gallant Brumbies and considered buying a t-shirt, but the one failing of the Shanghai Brewery was the 150RMB price of the t-shirt. Still a minor quibble – the Shanghai Brewery is a must visit in Shanghai.
I had to take Tony to the Boxing Cat Brewery. He was very impressed. This is quite different to the Shanghai Brewery and is more refined. The beers are still excellent and we had a plate of fiery wings which really hit the spot. You really can’t split the two (though Boxing Cat’s t-shirts are more reasonable). So the solution is visit both. We had a night cap at the Camel, which is apparently has the most live sports feeds in Asia. Amazingly, we watched the Storm play the Bunnies over some very ordinary but cheap beer. French Concession – a wonderful place.