Things have changed in recent years in Beijing, during my first visit here back in 2008. Back then you would only see green bottles from Tsingtao or the yellow bottles from Harbin beer that people were cheering and clinking their beer together within the bar.
But oh how things has changed in recent years, these days are there are almost more locals enjoying IPA´s, Stouts and other Beijing craft beer that don’t stand back when it comes to quality and taste for any European or American made craft beers.
There´s now six different microbreweries in Beijing, plus tons of craft beer bars and shops selling imported craft beer.
Two of the local microbreweries opened up in small historical hutong neighbourhoods a few years ago, but have now gotten so popular that they have opened up in new huge locations in the more popular parts of Beijing.
With one of them having up to 3 different brewing locations and another one just opened a section located in the most popular nightlife area of Beijing.
Some of the craft beers made are also offered in various bars around Beijing, and another city´s around China on bottle and draft these days.
And should´t be suprised if you soon will bee seing some of the local Beijing Craft beer for sale in your local shop or bar in your hometown around the world
The Beijing craft beer scene has seen a remarkable boom with several breweries racing to grab the crown of best craft brewers in town.
There are several breweries producing craft beers for you to choose from, each with its own distinct flavors and techniques. But, rest assured they all have a decent range that won’t disappoint you.
There’s a reason these crafty companies have been a part of, and some even creating, the craft beer boom in Beijing.
Whether you’re a beer lover or someone who doesn’t know hops from malts, read further to get in the know about Beijing’s best breweries.
History of Craft Beer in Beijing
While there are several conflicting opinions on the origin of craft beer in Beijing, there’s no denying that it started bubbling in the 2000s.
More precisely, most people point to the American expats, Carl Setzer and Dane Vanden Berg, behind Great Leap Brewing as the pioneers of craft beer brewers.
Great Leap Brewing opened its doors in 2010, earlier than any other brewer on this list. The duo did so after feeling unsatisfied with Chinese beer and seeing that there was no craft beer being produced and sold in Beijing.
And they grabbed the opportunity with both hands and capitalized on it, opening the floodgates for other craft beer brewers.
Before they took Beijing by storm there were some attempts at bringing craft to other parts of China.
The most notable one being Texan Gary Heyne opening a brewery in Shanghai – so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say he inspired the Great Leap duo.
Where to Get Craft Beer in Beijing
As you already know from the above, there are several breweries with craft beer on the menu.
They have a selection of pilsners, ales, IPAs and more – available on tap or in cans and bottles.
The following are Beijing’s finest places to get craft beer.
Jing-A started as a home brewing operation between two friends who were unhappy with then-Beijing beer.
Their first beer was such a success that it propelled them to where they are today – a firm part of the capital’s boozy buzz. The duo turned a converted factory compound into their premises.
They now have three established bars, one located in Xingfucun, another near Dongsi, and a recently-opened pub in the CBD. Jing-A in Beijing has soared to popularity thanks to a great flavor and delightful aroma.
At their bar locations, you’ll find the beer on tap or in a bottle if you’re planning on taking the party home.
Their inventory includes many core, seasonal and collaborative brews, many of which have finished on a podium at several beer competitions around the world.
Their most acclaimed beverage is the Worker’s Pale Ale. It’s an American ale with pronounced notes of grapefruit and pine resin balanced with moderate hop bitterness and pale and specialty malts.
Of course, these come with food to match; each location serves something different.
For instance, at Xingfucun you can combine your beer with a delightful Texas BBQ.
Location: 57 Xingfucun Zhong Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
38 Qianliang Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Kerry Center, 1 Guanghua Lu, Beijing
Opening Time: Sunday-Thursday: 11:00-Midnight
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 – 2:00
Weekdays: 8:00 – Late & Weekends: 11:00 – Late at The CBD taproom
Great Leap Brewing
Established in 2010, Great Leap Brewing was around when the scene started picking up and is officially the first Beijing Craft beer place to open up and is still around to reap the benefits.
It has four taphouses where visitors are spoiled with unique craft beers on tap or in a can.
Part of their popularity comes from the fact that some brews are named after Chinese military generals and idols.
They have 8 beers which are a mixture of ales, IPAs, and pilsners, meaning there’s something for just about anyone. The brews offer some interesting tastes that will please your palate in addition to giving you a buzz.
The Hidden General IPA has a citrus aroma thanks to it being brewed with grungiest and cashmere hops and dried sweet chrysanthemum flowers.
You’ll find their staple New York-style pizza on the menu alongside other dishes like burgers.
The exception is GLB Original #6, where you’re encouraged to buy food from nearby diners. This bar is one of the most popular Beijing Craft beer bars, and especially with expat teachers.
Location: #6 Doujiao Hutong, Di’anmenwai Avenue, Dongcheng Dist, Beijing (GLB Original #6)
Room 101, Ziming Mansion, B12 Xinzhong Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
#45-1 Xinyuan Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing (GLB #45)
Room 103, Nuo Center, A2 Jiangtai Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing (GLB 100)
Opening Time: At GLB #6 & #12 Sun-Thu: 12:00 – 11:00
Fri-Sat: 12:00 – 00:00
At GLB #45 & 100 Sun-Thu: 11:00 – 1:00
Fri-Sat: 11:00 – 2:00
Slow Boat Brewery
Founded in 2011 by two American friends, these brewers wanted to bring North American brewing techniques while keeping an authentic Chinese feel to the beers.
And they’ve been very successful in their pursuit, standing today as one of Beijing’s most popular brewers.
The American-style pub has three establishments, one being in lively Sanlitun while the others are found in Dengshikou and Maizidian.
Slow Boat Brewery in Beijing has produced around 54 core and seasonal brews and is one of the most popular Beijing Craft beer bars.
They are constantly being rotated in and out of the menu.
However, customers often find delight in the Monkey’s Fist IPA, characterized by its hop flavors. If you happen to go once and find a favorite, it’s best to contact the pub to ensure your preferred drink will be on sale.
As an ode to their American roots, they are responsible for several delicious burgers. Having even won awards for their burgers, including 4 titles in 5 years for best burger at the Beijing Burger Cup. It´s good, I had it myself a few times.
Location: 6 Nan Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
157 Dongsi Nan Dajie, Dongchang, Beijing
78 Maizidian Jie, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Contact the brewery for times at: +86 10 6592 5388
+86 13 5218 83051
+86 10 6592 6362
Arrow Factory in Beijing
Another brewery started by an expat is the Arrow Factory, the product of a British bloke. It was initially nestled in an alleyway that it quickly outgrew as more people got a taste of its local Beijing craft beer.
Arrow Factory has an impressive selection of brews, ranging from APIs to lagers.
Much like their drinks menu, they have a vast list of food you can choose from.
Plus, they cater to special dietary needs for vegans and vegetarians.
Location: 38 Jianchang Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Oepning Time: Mon-Thu: 11:30 – 11:30
Fri: 11:30 – 12:00
Sat: 10:30 – 12:00
Su: 10:30 – 11:30
Unlike the craft breweries above, NBeer sees a Chinese national capitalize on the craft beer boom. The store’s establishment resembles a micro-museum for beer with a number of local and imported brews on its premises.
As a brewery, it has over 30 taps of crafty goodness for you to choose from – featuring both local and international beers.
As a testament to the quality of the NBeer crafts, they’ve previously won a Brussels Beer Challenge gold award for their Beijing GOSE Modern.
The beer hotspot also features an impressive menu full of foods that go down well with beer.
This includes burgers, sausages, nachos, fish and chips, and more. There’s even dessert on offer for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Location: Xicheng District, China
Opening Time: 3:00pm – 2:00 daily
Peiping Machine Brewery is another all-Chinese crafter who has been a part of the craft beer boom since it first opened.
At their pub, there are over 30 taps that include some of their own brews and a number of local and international crafts.
That includes an American-type IPA, a wheat beer, and a delicious chocolate stout.
The elegant taproom practically invites you and your friends to enjoy a boozy stay thanks to the long tables at its Fangjia Hutong spot.
Peiping Machine is also renowned for its signature breakfast dish, the jianbing, which is like a chicken wrap.
Location: E101, 46 Fangjia Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Opening Time: 5:00pm – 2:00 am daily
Other Beer Shops in Beijing
While the above are some of the more renowned Beijing craft beer, there are also hidden gems you can explore. These are the best microbreweries in the Chinese capital.
Opened in 2017 as part of Hotel Jen, Beersmith is more than just a showcase of crafty deliciousness. It’s a taphouse that often has live music to entertain you when you’re feeling boozy. Their selections of beer are definitely worth a try.
Another place that serves good craft beer and food is Panda Brew. The taproom sells locally brewed beer in an elegant setting that is full of Panda teddy bears.
They serve a whole range of beer including pilsners, stout, IPAs and more.
Find them at Dongsi N St, Dongzhimen, Dongcheng, Beijing.
Where to Get Craft Beer?
Instead of limiting your boozy plans to local craft beer made and sold in Beijing, you can go and try some international crafty goods.
There are several places to enjoy imports and give your tongue a taste of the unusual. Here’s a list of pubs with a wealth of craft beers available.
Beers 89 is home to numerous craft beers from various countries – all available to you. You can get pilsners, IPAs, and lager.
You’ll find them located on 89 Dashilan W St, Xicheng District, Beijing.
Big Smoke sells great food and beer to its patrons. They have a range of craft beers to choose from, including IPAs, pilsners, ales, and more. Find them at 57 Xingfucun Middle Rd, Chaoyang, Beijing.
Which Beijing Craft Beer Will You Try First?
Now that you know where to go to drink craft beer in Beijing, which spot will you be visiting first? The original Beijing masters at Great Leap Brewing or the Chinese-led NBeer or maybe the lesser-known Panda Brew?
Whichever one you end up choosing, you’re in for a great time!
Afterward, perhaps you can work up the courage to eat some of the strange food China has to offer?