My trip to China ended on a visit to an old home town. I truly love Beijing and its beer scene continues to evolve. I took my brother to some old favourite haunts (Great Leap and Slow Boat). Together we confirmed the sad demise of NanluguoXiang – a former great pub crawl. We opportunistically met a drummer in a cab line and ended up seeing MDC (summarised in Wikipedia thus “They play fast hardcore punk music espousing far-left sociopolitical ideals, with singer Dave Dictor expressing his animal rights, gay rights, transgender rights, pro-racial equality and anti-capitalist convictions.“) at the School Bar. Haven’t been near such a moshpit like that anywhere and two of the 90% Chinese crowd were carried out unconscious when some crowd surfing ended up in headfirst wipeouts on to concrete.
Between NanluguoXiang and the School Bar, my brother and stumbled across a bar in an alley. We spotted a cocktail neon out of the corner of our eye and discovered Chilli Crush. What a surprising beer oasis! It is probably better known as a lesbian leaning bar that serves very hot food, which only became apparent when I took a photo of a unique beer from Spain (see above). A conversation with a lovely but puzzled bar maid confirmed what the bar’s posters were indicating. They admired our enthusiasm for a fridge that stocked Tuatara, Garage Project, Rogue, Founders and Euro stuff to name but a few. Well priced too. A worthy detour before going to the Dongsi 8th Slow Boat venue.
The next night we visited Arrow Brewing’s new venue in Liangma. Slow Boat and Great Leap definitely dominate the Beijing craft beer scene, but Arrow expanded to its second venue last year to be a clear up and comer. They’ve done a great job. There’s working brewery equipment on the ground floor. There’s a rooftop bar which would overlook a pleasant tree lined river in summer, but it was -3 and I’d had enough of the cold on this trip.
The first floor is where the action is. 14 taps – all Arrow (I think). There’s bar seating, high benches and stools and tables. Good sound system and wifi as well. When I visited their first venue in 2015, their range was tight. Now Arrow’s stepped it with barley wine, Rye PA and Imperial Amber amongst the new types. The merch is the most reasonable in Beijing. Great thought has gone into the label designs for each beer and the price is right.
Aah Beijing – too short this time, but still great fun.
Chilli Crush: Zhongjianzi Xiang, Beijing
Arrow Brewing Factory Liangma He: 1 Xindong Lu, Beijing (but in LiangmaHe San Lu)