If you're in the mood for cheap beer, just walk into any restaurant, bar or corner store and buy yourself a Tsingtao or Yanjing. However, if your taste buds are hankering for something a bit more substantial, flavorful, hopped or dark, Beijing boasts an ever-increasing number of beer bars and microbreweries to cater to your needs. While Beijing’s beer culture is not quite on par with the United States and Europe just yet, a beer aficionado will however find a number of great beer bars and microbreweries in Beijing. Here are some of our favorites.
1) Slow Boat Brewery TaproomView In Map
A newer brew pub on the scene, Slowboat peddles its wares on a hutong in the Dongsishitiao area as well as on the taps at many other bars in Beijing.
Slowboat asks its customers not to be too loud or rowdy to avoid incurring the wrath of their hutong neighbors. Slowboat's location is a bit more industrial and stark but the newsletter tells beer drinkers to expect outdoor seating as the weather warms. This brewery also does an excellent job of organizing weekly events that offer entertainment and better deals. Think you can hold up a full pint at arm's length the longest, interested in sharing a pitcher with some pals, or would you like some brats with your brews?
Slowboat has a small kitchen and menu of pub food including a cheese plate. The beer names are memorable like the Monkey's Fist IPA though the flavors are not quite as strong and perhaps still developing. You can also find them on tap at places like Brussels (with many other delicious Belgians on tap as well), the Bookworm and even Ocean Grounds, the gourmet cafe that teamed up with Slowboat on a Coffee Porter.
Add: 56 Dongsi Batiao, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6538 5537
Opening hours: Tue-Wed, 16:00-24:00; Thu-Fri, 17:00-01:00; Sat, 14:00-late; Sun, 14:00-22:00
2) Malty DogView In Map
Another one of the newer microbreweries in Beijing, Malty Dog is fairly subdued though also perhaps a bit on the trendier side. That should not be surprising given that the man behind it is also the owner of popular Mai bar. Not too big, it has around eight beers of varying styles on tap including the most popular wheat, an enjoyable black IPA and even an ale/Campari mix. Malty Dog also keeps a good selection of bottled beers in the fridges up by the bar. The lighting is low and some of the decorations are a bit more provocative, but in general it is a just a laid back place to stop in for a beer. Though it becomes much more crowded and smoky on the weekends and its brewed beers can be hit or miss depending on your tastes, it's great to see another brewer breaking on to the scene.
Add: 51 Beiluogu Xiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 183 1033 0091
Opening hours: 20:00-01:30
3) Great Leap View In Map
If craft brews are for you, then visit this alehouse near Nanluoguxiang (second location near Sanlitun coming soon!). Though many a customer has been overheard regaling fellow beer drinkers with their tales of getting confoundingly lost on the way to the courtyard pub, most who lose their way agree that the confusion was worth the Porter, Stout, Amber, Red, or other richly-colored and flavored liquid held in their triumphant hands. Prices range from 20-50 RMB and alcohol content varies as well with several erring towards quite strong. So pull up a seat at the cozy bar or out in the sun, grab some free peanuts, and start chatting with other locals while enjoying a cold one.
Add: 6 Doujiao Hutong (from Di'anmenwai Dajie, walk east down Fangzhuanchang Hutong until you hit Doujiao Hutong. Turn right then follow the road round to the left), Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5717 1399
Opening hours: Tue-Thu, 17:00-24:00; Fri-Sat, 14:00-24:00; Sun, 14:00-22:00 (call to ask as times may change)
4) Panda Brew PubView In Map
Barely a whisper to suggest its existence, Panda has been hiding. But beer drinkers are spreading the word of this brewery's somewhat erratic arrival. The locally made liquid is worth a try, though the opening hours are not 100% reliable so far. With other bars in the area, even on the same hutong, you can safely go to take a look and be sworn to secrecy or to keep the pub on the down-low, as that seems to be the management's current approach.
Add: Beixinqiao Toutiao (20m east off Yonghegong Dajie), Dongcheng District, Beijing
Opening hours: Daily, 18:00-24:00
5) Heaven Supermarket View In Map
Don't be fooled, this is no supermarket. Heaven, now in its second location around the corner from where it first started, is still just on the outskirts of Sanlitun Village. With two levels of seating, this misnomer offers bottles of foreign beer, liquor, cigarettes, and even Mexican food. Though I cannot speak to the quality of the later three things, the bottles of beer are well worth a trip to this often rowdy foreigner mecca. With the chance to buy a delicious pale ale for 20 RMB or other styles of beer for a similarly decent price, Heaven crushes the bottled beer competition of other nearby bars that might only have a few names to select from, and be 30 kuai more. Word to the wise, if you do not like a crowd or smoke, buy your bottles and head to another location. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy one of the plethora of beer choices and the generally raucous atmosphere in this joint.
Add: 14 Xindong Lu (next to The James Joyce), Chaoyang District, Beijing
Opening hours: Daily, 11:00-04:00
6) El Nido View In Map
Another hutong bar where you can find bottled beer not available elsewhere. Unlike Heaven, El Nido could be considered a 'hipster hangout' that’s smaller and more relaxed, although also a bit pricier. There are some deli-type eats like cheeses to nibble on or a chuanr menu to order from if you need a bite. In the event that you get really ravenous, you can walk just down the alley to the El Nido restaurant for some modern American fare like pizzas and salads. The bar has very little indoor space but is great on a warmer day when you can sit at an outdoor picnic table and enjoy a nice beer.
Add: 59 Fangjia Hutong (enter from Andingmennei Dajie), Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 8402 9495
Opening hours: Daily 4pm-last customer leaves
7) Beer ManiaView In Map
If you like draft Belgians and an impressive wall of bottled choices from Europe and North America, make a mental note to get over here. The kitchen can whip up some pretty decent fare including brunch on the weekends and there is plenty of seating. You cannot miss it, with the lights glancing off the bottles to light up the street below.
Add: 1/F, Taiyue Fang, Nansanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6500 0559
Opening hours: Daily, 14:00-late
8) Beijing Okhotsk BeerView In Map
And you thought there were only beer places in the hutongs and Sanlitun. This brewery resides in the Sanyuanqiao area within the Phoenix City complex. There are four beers on tap that can be ordered in 300, 500, or even 1000-milliliter vessels. The brewing equipment is just behind the bar, visible to all you beer nerds. Food and convenient location are not among the reasons to trek to this bar, but a Tuesday night all-you-can-drink deal (99 RMB for men and 50 RMB for women) certainly is. Welcome, Beijing Okhotsk Beer, may we call you BOB for short?
Add: 7 Shangye Jie, Phoenix City, 5 Shuguang Xili, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5866 8552
Opening hours: Daily, 11:30-00:30
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Keywords: microbreweries in Beijing Beijing’s beer culture
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