Here at That’s Beijing we really, really like our beer. And we thank the beer gods that Beijing has a pretty kickass craft brew scene. We know, we know, most of you already know these places like the back of your hand. We sure do. But after hosting the That's Beijing 2016 Lifestyle Awards earlier this month, we felt inspired to pay homage to some of Beijing’s best craft beer places. (Or perhaps, because it’s Friday, we’re just really craving some craft beer. Either way, here’s our guide to some of Beijing’s best craft breweries. And now that we’re finished writing this, we’re going to grab a pint…
1. Great Leap Brewing
If you drink beer and live in Beijing, we’re willing to bet you’ve tried a pint of Great Leap. If you don’t drink beer and live in Beijing, we’re willing to bet you’ve at least been to one of their three locations, and perhaps been glared at for ordering a soda. If you’re a newcomer to Beijing, then make plans to grab a pint at Great Leap stat, because it is a Beijing drinking institution. We recommend all three drinking spots, but we have an affinity for the original hutong location, Great Leap Brewing #6. GLB #45 has bomb pizza, too.
2. Slow Boat Taproom
Slow Boat Brewery is another pioneer of the Beijing craft beer scene. They pride themselves on brewing fresh beer – free of preservatives and chemicals – to their customers. All beers are brewed right here in Beijing, and there are currently 20 different types on offer. Head over to their taproom and order up a pint or two along with one of their famous burgers.
See a listing for Slow Boat Brewery.
3. Arrow Factory's New Taproom
We’re big fans of Arrow Factory’s New Taproom on the Liangma River because it marries three of our favorite things: beer, brunch and a sick deck. The second location has the same brews as the first one, which, yes, is still operating out of its delightfully painted wooden shack in Gulou. We’re partial to Arrow Factory’s syrupy-yet-sessionable Belgian Bruin, but the Seeing Double IPA appears to be the reigning champ of the place.
4. Jing-A Taproom
Jing-A really needs no introduction. Their craft brews are top notch (and their food is damn good too). Jing-A also happens to be Editor’s Choice for Craft Beer Pub of the Year at the That's Beijing 2016 Lifestyle Awards. If somehow you haven’t sipped on one of Jing-A’s fine craft brews, you’ve got a problem.
See a listing for Jing-A.
5. Hacker Pschorr
Hacker-Pschorr has almost 600 years of history. It has been Munich’s premier brewery since the 18th century, the personal favorite of Crown Prince Ludwig I. Famous throughout Germany, the Bavarian brewery opened its first Beijing outlet on the basement level of a Xindong Lu complex, doing its best to prove wrong our prediction that the street was becoming little more than bootleg booze-peddling dive-bar blemish on the streets of Sanlitun. If you’re looking for an authentic German brewhouse Hacker Pschorr is a solid choice. It was also the Reader’s Choice for Craft Beer Pub of the Year at the 2016 Lifestyle Awards.
6. Drei Kronen 1308
Authentic (in as much as any brauhaus with a Filipino cover band can be) displays of armor and brewing kits draw regular evening crowds for the superb pork knuckle and heavy-duty helles (pale lager), wheat and dark beer (brewed on-site).
See a listing for Drei Kronen 1308.
7. Paulaner Bräuhaus
One of Beijing's best and most popular microbreweries can be found at the Kempinski Hotel (Liangmaqiao). Paulaner Bräuhaus is a not only a traditional Bavarian brewery, but it is also an award-winning restaurant. So come thirsty and come hungry. In addition to enormous (and we mean enormous) steins of beer, you can also order up frankfurters and other traditional German dishes.
See a listing for Paulaner Bräuhaus.
8. Flow Brew
Flow’s teeny space (just across from Vagabond) serves three varieties of its own beer, plus Slow Boat (see above). While Flow’s are worth trying – support your local businesses! – Slow Boat’s are better in taste and quality. But that doesn’t matter. Flow is a lovely, tucked-away hutong spot for drinking, no matter which kind of beer you're after. The intimate setting ensures speedy service, and barmen are more than happy to hand over samples.
See a listing for Flow Brew.
9. Peiping Machine Brewing
Peiping is part brewery, part sharer of others’ brews, all temple to the gods of beer. The airy, high-ceilinged former factory has been packed ever since it opened. All because Beijingers love their beer. Peiping makes its own brews – a sweet wheat beer is our favorite – but perhaps more importantly, it serves craft varieties from breweries around the country. There’s Slow Boat, of course, and soon Jing-A, but also brands from outside Beijing – ones you may recognize from beer festivals but that you’ve never seen on a menu before.
See a listing for Peiping Machine Brewing.