“We only drink craft beer,” declares a sign over a skull mural in Phoebeer Brewpub’s Liwan location. There, for over a year, the small craft beer bar has been a go-to destination for locals who appreciate hop-forward brews.
Now, with its recent expansion into a building on Yanjiang Zhong Lu in Yuexiu District, Phoebeer is able to offer craft beer lovers a total of 24 varieties on tap and, allegedly, over 200 different bottles, a number of which are crafted by Chinese breweries such as Jing A, NBeer and Panda (all RMB35 for 330ml and RMB45 for 500ml on tap).
On a Monday night roughly three weeks after opening, Phoebeer is more or less vacant. Maybe the shop’s inconvenient location is to blame, or maybe guests are simply turned off by the ‘oyster stout,’ which tastes of burnt wheat and coffee. Luckily, Phoebeer stocks less peculiar varieties as well, including Bravo’s lime wheat ale and Church Key’s hoppy lager (RMB35 for 330ml and RMB45 for 500ml).
An American-made peanut-butter-flavored stout dubbed Burping Beaver (RMB50/60) is also on tap. Foamless, it tastes thick with a hint of rich, nutty butter, and has scored mixed reviews from patrons.
After trying several imported craft beer brands such as Russian River, Westvleteren 12 and Treehouse, Dutch brand De Molen’s IPA Dag & Dauw (RMB55/65) emerges as our top pick. It boasts an agreeably fruity taste thanks to the addition of bergamot orange and a well-balanced medley of hops.
As more Chinese gravitate away from tasteless ‘water beer’ to explore the wealth of alternatives, Phoebeer is ready to show them the ropes. And with two additional branches currently underway, the bar looks poised to play a central role in enlarging the city’s craft beer scene, one foamy pint at a time.
Who’s going: local craft beer lovers, Pearl River tourists
Good for: a wide variety of brews, chill atmosphere
Nearest metro: Tuanyida Square (Exit B), 10 minutes
Open daily, 5pm-4am; see listing for Phoebeer Brewpub.