Arrow Factory Brewing 箭厂啤酒


Per the recommendations of multiple friends, Arrow Factory Brewing’s Taproom had to be among the next destinations on my list. Only a couple hutong blocks west of the Lama Temple, the surrounding Wudaoying area is an eclectic mix of cafes, bars and boutiques, catering to tourist, upscale and/or hipster clientele, each to varying degrees. Feel free to make what you will of that description… 😉 The hutong they are situated on is itself called the “Arrow Factory Hutong” 箭厂胡同, which also hosts an art studio of the same name. The taproom was formerly their only production site, before they upgraded to a larger location in the outer Shunyi District. Immediately adjacent is Stuff’d Restaurant, whose full, UK-tinged menu is also served in the taproom.

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NBeer Pub 牛啤堂

So much beer... so little time...

In Chinese culture, there is the concept of moqi 默契 – an implicit or unsaid understanding between two parties. People here frequently talk about how it permeates interpersonal relationships and daily interactions. In my experience, it often seems to intersect with the general human fascination towards serendipity or fortuitous encounters. This past Tuesday evening once again saw these forces collide at the 2-year anniversary celebration of NBeer Pub 牛啤堂, held at their original location in the Xicheng neighborhood of Huguosi 护国寺.

It all started with a long-time reader of this blog, Yinhai. Contacting me promply after the blog’s revival last week, he invited me to the party. Upon arriving, I immediately encountered the co-founder, Xiao Biar, who recognized me before I could embarrassingly muster the same for him.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Great Leap 大跃啤酒, Slow Boat 悠航鲜啤, Jing-A 京A

This summer remains a scorcher, but I [barely] braved the muggy heat to make my long overdue visits to these marquee brewpubs. On Wednesday, I navigated Beijing’s famous hutongs, first to Great Leap Brewing‘s original #6 location in Doujiao Hutong south of the Drum Tower (Gulou) and then several blocks away to Slow Boat Brewery Taproom in the Dongsi area. The next day saw me stopping by Jing-A Brewing Co., which has arguably the “fanciest” or most “upscale” location of these three, near Sanlitun in the 1949 Hidden City complex. Suffice to say, it was obvious to me why they all have done so well. Finally, after some noble-but-failed attempts, the American-style craft brewpub has carved out a solid foothold in this city.

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Inedit, Chateau Jiahu, Dead Guy, Samuel Smith, etc

(UPDATE: City Weekend article here)

(UPDATE 2: Beijing Today’s article, in PDF format. May 14 – 20, 2010 Issue, page 17)

In late April, I was proud to showcase a few select beers for several invitees from the English-language media in Beijing. Amongst them were Annie Wei from Beijing Today, Gabriel Monroe from Agenda, and Greg Williams from City Weekend. We were also joined again by Jim Boyce and by Frank Siegel, who graciously hosted the event at the new Kerry Center location of Sequoia Cafe.

There were six beers featured, with three of them available in Beijing and the other three which I hand-carried back from the states:

(DISCLOSURE: I am currently a sales representative for DXCEL, the importers and distributors of Estrella Inedit and Rogue Dead Guy into mainland China.)

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Munich and… Brazil(?!) in Beijing


In early December 2009, I came across a restaurant/brewpub called Golden Hans 金汉斯 in the Wangjing area of Beijing (in Chaoyang District). I figured I would give it a shot. Lo and behold, it was one of the weirdest and surprising beer experiences in my life. They brew three German-style beers: a “pilsener”, a dunkel, and a weissbier. And for less than 50 RMB per person, you can partake in a mixed buffet of generic [sub-par, but usually edible] “Western” and “Chinese” food… WITH… (get this…) …Brazillian churrasco! Well, at least it TRIES to be churrasco – to be fair, it’s probably the most palatable food on their menu. Adding to this bizarre cultural amalgamation, the waitresses are dressed in Bavarian dirndl and the waiters making the rounds with skewers of meat are decked out in cowboy-like gaucho attire. Um… yeah… But onto the BEER… it’s actually rather decent (especially considering the price)! …[Full, with photos]

Munich in Beijing

When I returned from my visit to the US, there was only a few days left of the “Oktoberfest” (from the 9th to 25th) at Beijing’s Paulaner Bräuhaus (普拉纳啤酒坊) in the Kempinski Hotel/Lufthansa Center. The place is expensive, and the food is merely better-than-average (for a western restaurant in China). But I really wanted to get another taste of some of the best Märzenbier I’ve actually ever tasted ANYWHERE. Granted, I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Munich itself, but I’d had the Marzenbier here in Beijing for the past two years, and it was great both times. Last year, I even wrote a glowing review of it. Meanwhile, the mini-tent was booked weeks ahead of time, so I couldn’t get a seat. But I did manage to peek in and take some pictures: DSCF7054DSCF7059DSCF7065 Read more…