If you’ve been in China long, you probably recall at least one Tsingtao or Yanjing overdose. It’s nice for your wallet, but the hangover tastes bad, friends. It tastes like Yanjing. Even in a bar, you risk encounters with oversized, mass-produced, and ultimately tasteless lagers.
But Beijing is no longer in a microbrew draught (pun 100% intended). A number of local brewpubs are now serving complex craft ales in a pub atmosphere throughout the city.
Autumn is a theoretical possibility at this point, but with Beijing still blazing, we help you find the twenty best spots to relax and take in a craft pint. The spots highlighted here all offer up an unbeatable mix of cozy atmospherics, delicious ales, bar food, or all three. Perfect for riding out the rest of the summer.
1. 牛啤堂 NBeer Pub
Beer geeks rejoice: founder Yin Hai, president of the Chinese Homebrewer’s Association, joined forces with beer fanatic and bar owner Xiao Biar to build this shrine to ale. N Beer is nestled among the noodle shops on Huguosi Snack Street.
This brewery sports 37 taps and stocks over 500 bottled beers from around the world. Local brews from Tipsy Face, Panda, Great Leap and Slow Boat, as well as craft beers from around China (Master Gao’s from Nanjing and Harvest from Chengdu are highlights) rotate through the taps.
(1). Huguosi Branch
Add: F1-6 Huguo Xintiandi, No.85 Huguosi Dajie, Xicheng District
(2). Sanlitun Branch
NBeer opened a new branch recently in Sanlitun. You won’t find imported bottles here, but they promote local brewing with their own ales and some choice Beijing microbrews. There are more than 20 beers available on tap at any given time, including two nitrogen taps used only here. Don’t miss it!
Add: B1-625, Bldg 6, Sanlitun SOHO, 8 Gongti Beilu Chaoyang District
2. 云雀精酿 Lark Brew Pub
This pub and homebrew destination is now in its third incarnation, but all have come and gone within a few hundred hallowed meters of the original site. Now located next to Beixinqiao Station (exit B), Lark Han’s operation is a café by day and a pub at night. The 10 rotating taps mean that they have a beer for any taste. What’s more, the pub’s owner is known for his own brewing technology. Drinking here, you can also get an earful about the process of brewing. This spot gets bonus points for a fun clientele and general cozy vibes. Give it a shot.
Add: 227 Dongzhimen Nei Dajie, Dongcheng District
After closing their tiny Beixinqiao Dongsi and Wudaoying beer cubbyholes, the newest Panda Brew Pub is a much larger affair: 400 square meters of industrial chic, concrete floors and massive fermentation tanks. It’s a welcome addition to the area.
Add: Southeast corner, Beixinqiao, 14 Dongsi North, Dongcheng District
Hours: Daily 4pm-1am
Tel: 010-6408 7922
4. 河马啤酒 Hippo
This pocket-sized bar and bottle shop in the middle of the hutongs is an ideal place for a subdued pint. They stock standard craft bottles from around the world at very fair prices, along with the terrifyingly cheap 10 RMB shots. Go crazy. Delivery is free within 5 kilometers.
Add: 19 Beixinqiao San Tiao, Dongcheng District
Hours: M-F 3pm-12am, Sat-Sun 3pm-2am
The alliterative Beer Bear Bar was opened by three Beijinger bros. They’re very nice, and good talkers to boot. If you’re hiking around the hutongs, this is a good spot for a break, a brew and a conversation.
Add:125, Dongsi Wutiao, Dongcheng District
Hours: M-F 7pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 24hrs
6. 欧月啤酒吧 Beer Mania
Beer Mania lives up to its name. Owned by a Belgian that sells only Belgian Beer, this place has the best selection of Belgian brews on tap in Beijing, hands down. The bar also offers a rotating selection of white beers on draught. Everything from the décor to the beer menu screams Brussels, and the place is a general home run: every homesick Belgian’s dream, and new best friend. Give it a go.
Add: Sanlitun South Street, 16 Taiyue Suites 1st Floor Chaoyang District
Hours: Everyday 11am to 3am
Happy Hours 3pm to 8pm
Tea Time 3pm to 8pm
Tel: 010-6500 0559
It’s a small and intimate spot, where you’re definitely going to run into your fair share of Gulou hipsters. That’s a given, given the location and the aesthetics. Hipsters aside, Arrow enjoys an exceptional Friday-night atmosphere, that sometimes finds friends chilling both on the porch and inside. Dogs wander, neighbors converse. The beers are plentiful and always made with passion.
Add: No. 9, Jianchang Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
8. Nothing to Say Beer Shop
A small bottle shop up Qiangliang Hutong. The boss here offers a good selection of craft beers and the prices are reasonable, whether you want to drink there or take some bottles home.
Add: 33 West Lane, Qiangliang Hutong, Dongcheng District
Hours: Daily 3pm-2am
Nearby the Lotus Market at Houhai Lake, this is a small bar with a good selection of craft beers. Prices are reasonable relative to the surrounding Houhai joints.
Add: 10 Qianhai Beiyan, Xicheng District
Hours: Daily 3pm-2am
Scuffed floors, stacks of apple wood, a brick smoker designed by the owners and abundant country tunes (think Johnny Cash and honky-tonk) set the stage for a meal of down-home barbecue from the American South. An anomaly on a strip of Chinese restaurants, Home Plate is a place where time relaxes and the diners languidly enjoy slow-cooked meats. They bear all this with a light touch, or a touch so accurate that the impression isn’t one of kitsch, nor of any attempt to reinvent on Southern hospitality.
The newer Sanlitun location is much larger than the Sanyuanli original, with additional dishes, cocktails, and 6 Slow Boat beers on tap.
(1). Xiaoyun Lu Branch
Add: Courtyard 35, Xiaoyun Road, Chaoyang District
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm
Tel: 010-5128 5584
(2). Sanlitun Branch
Add: Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District
Hours: Sun-Thur 11am-2am, Fri-Sat 11am-3am
Tel: 400 096 7670
This beer bar and supermarket offers cheap and imported local brews, but it’s not quite what you’d call a real bar. The range really is pretty staggering, including plenty of Belgians and spirits, and the prices are often incomparable. Almost as if this were… yes, a supermarket. But it earns a spot on the list for its outdoor seating, and healthy community of beer swilling foreigners. Bonus points for plastic cups and the sacks of ice lying around. Mexican and American food is available.
Add: 14 Xindong Lu (next to The James Joyce), Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
Hours: Daily 11am-4am
Tel: 010-6415 6513
12. Trouble Bar
This new venture by Ryan O’Neal Johnston, formerly of The Brick in Shuangjing (and then later of The Drive-Thru) picks up where the aforementioned beer shop left off. A spot for him to indulge his twin passions, beer and bikes, the China View venue already hosts Beijing Brewing Society meet ups and is likely to interest other gatherings with some of the trappings planned or already installed. Amenities include a projector set up with a decent screen, touch screen jukebox and table football on the spacious second floor. There’s also cycling gear and regalia on sale.
Add: China View, 2-101 Gongti Donglu, Chaoyang District
Hours: Daily 2pm-late
Tel: 010-8590 0390
The latest outlet of the Luga empire, Taps German Bar and Grill offers beer taps at five of its tables. You’ve got Radenburger, Paulaner, Gaffel, Elbauer and Carlsberg mixed in there. Traditional German food is served, and is a must. Drinking here and taking in the unique atmosphere, you’re likely to find yourself in conversation with the staff or else with other travelers. Not easy to find another replace like this in Beijing. Mentally fortify yourself for the type of accelerated intoxication natural to a night sipping German ales.
Add: 7 Sanlitun Houjie (10m from northwest corner of 3.3 Shopping Center), Chaoyang District
Hours: Daily 10am-3am
Tel: 010-6415 6901
14. 过客 Pass By Bar
A favorite for foreigners and tourists sleeping in the neighborhood, this pleasant courtyard bar and restaurant is an ideal spot to fuel up, dish on your day with a weird mix of backpackers and upwardly mobile professionals, or hog the wifi- whatever you’re in the mood for. Beer selection is somewhat legendary, if expensive. Tibetan prints and wooden masks adorn the walls and there’s a selection of reading material to browse and borrow (you’ve got to donate three books). The menu skews Italian (passably) and they do a range of pizzas (including the famous gongbao jiding pizza) and pastas.
Add: 108 Nanluogu Xiang, Dongcheng District
Hours: Daily 9.30am-2am
Tel: 010-8403 8004
15. 方家小酒馆 El Nido
This Fangjia Hutong staple is a bottle bar that also obliges, by whatever twist of circumstance, with a spectacular ham and cheese plate. The owner hauls some cheese wheels out from under the bar and goes to work. Anyway, the Fangjia set can be found imbibing at picnic tables in front of this unpretentious spot until late.
Add: 59 Fangjia Hutong, Andingmen Nei Da Jie, Dongcheng Disctrict
Hours: Daily 11am-late
Tel: 010-8402 9495
16. 壹库 The One Place
Located in Maolong Art Park, this is a quiet and cozy spot with a few imports, and almost a family-vibe. The owner is a proficient brewer, so his ales are sometimes on tap. If you want to learn more about the process of beer-making, stick around and you’ll eventually get some knowledge dropped on you. Prices are reasonable.
Add: Bldg 29, Maolong Art Park,Sanjianfang East Rd, Chaoyang District
17. 爱尔兰酒吧 Paddy O’Shea’s
Paddy O’Shea’s is Beijing’s only true Irish pub (where the owners are actually Irish) and they pride themselves on keeping service (and beer) standards high. They opened in 2007, and in the elapsed years they’ve been voted Beijing’s Best Sports Bar 7 years running, as well as Best Quiz Night, Best Crowd, Best Guinness, Best Party, and Best Toilet. Paddy’s also serves a strange combination of food options: Irish, Italian and Indian food are all available. This is a place where the Irish community in Beijing often comes together. The Jianlishi is recommended here: typical and authentic.
Add: No. 28, Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Behind the Hepingmen branch of Quanjude, this pub attracts beer lovers from all over South Beijing. The owner offers hundreds of craft beers as well as a few draughts. There are a variety of snacks on hand, like roast mutton and chicken wings. This is a real beer bar, the first of its kind in South Beijing. A lot of backpackers wind up passing through.
Add: 200 Heyan Jie Qianmen West, Hepingmen, Xicheng District
19. 啤酒圈 Beer All
The owner of this cozy establishment, with branches in both Qingnian Lu and Jianwai SOHO, specializes in letting you drink in peace. It’s usually pretty quiet here and it’s a good spot for light weekday boozing.
(1). 啤酒圈-建外店 Beer All – Jianwai SOHO Branch
Add: B1/F, Unit 8821, Bldg 17, Jianwai Soho West Area, 39 Dongsanhuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District
Hours: Daily 5pm-midnight
(2). 啤酒圈-青年路店 Beer All – Qingnian Lu Branch
Add: 02 Bldg 17, West Huafangyicheng, Qingnian Lu , Chaoyang District
Hours: Daily 5pm-midnight
20. 爵色桃源 Beer Garden
The only bar around Houhai which specializes in imports, this place offers a really good (broad) selection, with reasonable prices. Especially considering the spot. Besides, it’s got a good darts set up. Come for the darts, stay for the beer.
Add: No. 8, Houhai Nanyan, Xicheng District, Beijing