We find ourselves spending a lot of time in brewpubs, brew places, breweries, and tap rooms now that we are doing the visa waiting game for our next move abroad. It’s amazing to have so many places available to us in the Front Range of Colorado. Every time I come back from living abroad, new places have opened and new beer is waiting to be discovered. We have started our adventure in Shanghai, and found our first brewery in China!
- Shanghai Brewery
- 19 Dongping Road, Shanghai, China (Line 1-Hengshan Road Station)
- Founded in 2010 (Dongping Lu location opened in 2012)
“Shanghai Brewery is one of the best microbrewery in China. All of the 6 kinds of fresh hand-crafted, micro-brewed beers are brewed on-site. Shanghai Brewery’s brewing facility is located upstairs and can be visited by the public in China. The 6 regularly featured brews include West River Weizen, People’s Pilsner, North Star IPA (India Pale Ale), Black Eyed Bear Stout, Hong Mei Amber Hefeweizen and Peach Weizen. Our Brewmeister’s Choice varies and is currently a Porter beer, which was especially brewed for the cold winter months. All of the beer recipes were created and are brewed by our award-winning American Brewmaster Geoff Engel and Joshua Deitner.
We believe in using the highest quality ingredients available, which includes importing many of the items that are not available in China. Our main microbrewery beers follow the “Reinheitsgebot” (also known as the Bavarian purity law), which was updated in 1988 to also allow the production of wheat/ weizen beers and which now permits yeast as an ingredient to produce beer. Thus, Shanghai Brewery produces some of the best beers of any microbrewery in China.” –shanghaibrewery.com
This is the second location for this brewery, with the first being farther out than we were willing to go at this time. I’ll update this blog once we’ve visited the first location!
The first thing that you see is the giant outdoor seating area, when crossing a street in Xuhui that could easily be in Rio, Santiago de Chile, or even Spain. Outdoors on the intersection are some plush wicker chairs with low tables in shades of dark grey. Inside, there are two full floors of bar tables, large TVs, and vintage-style decorations. It’s masssssssive. The first time we went to the brewery, it was early on a weekday and the upper floor was not open. The second time was a hopping Thursday night.
Security will seat you, and promptly take any outside food or drink (even water bottles) from you. Then a server will offer you beers and food, and continue to offer table service that rivals even American levels of attentiveness. You can relax in the cool breeze and watch whatever sport you prefer. Unfortunately, as in most bars in Shanghai, smoking is allowed inside.
I was entirely impressed with the selection and quality of the beers. We travel a lot, and we sample local craft beer everywhere we go. Craft beer is booming as an industry all over the world, and some of the mass expansion leads to watered-down, aroma-less, or otherwise ‘eh’ beers.
Not the case at Shanghai Brewery. These beers are tasty and above all approachable. No in-your-face sours or “holy shit that’s bitter” double IPAs. It’s a really good way to make inroads in a place where many are unlikely to have had craft beer before. It’s possible that a couple of the beers have suffered a little bit in the ABV department in the interest of making them more accessible to an uninitiated crowd. They also serve macro beers like Heineken and Stella Artois, for that Lager or Death crowd.
The freshness of the ingredients for these beers is apparent immediately. Fresh US-grown hops, good malt characters, and interesting combinations of styles (i.e. Amberweiss). The cost of these beers is considerable for Shanghai, but the happy hour is long and that helps make it less than London Prices (48 RMB for a pint normally, 30 during happy hour).
A selection of the beers we tried.
- Style: Amberweizen
- Geekery: % ABV, IBUs, Colour= Blood Orange Soda
- Served with a slice of orange, this is a delicious and refreshing beer. It’s got a malty backbone, and is very fresh. There is a fresh fruit taste, with a hint of tartness that may be either from Shanghai’s hard water or perhaps the house yeast strain (not lactobacillus-related). Despite the sweet character, it has what I tend to call ‘hop sparkles’ from alpha acids.
- Score: 4.5 pints (out of five)
- Style: India Pale Ale
- Geekery: % ABV, 60 IBUs, Colour= Deep Yellow
- The thing that immediately stands out for this beer is the fresh hop aroma. They clearly use American West Coast or New Zealand hops for this beer, with fruity overtones and citrus notes. The bitterness is strong, but not overpowering. It’s like a well-brewed cup of tea in terms of IBUs.
- Score: 4.2 pints
- Style: Red Ale
- Geekery: 4.0% ABV, 28 IBUs, Colour= Dark Red
- Inoffensive and easy-drinking, if a bit too low on the ABV scale. It lacks a bit of mouthfeel due to the session strength. This beer has the same characteristic yeast taste of the Amberweiss, with a hint of tang.
- Score: 3.5 pints
Black Eyed Bear
- Style: Stout
- Geekery: % ABV, IBUs, Colour= Blood Orange Soda
- Tastes just like chocolate milk! It’s subtle. Not a hugely ‘stouty’ beer, because it needs more thickness and lacks that characteristic chewy maltiness that most US-style stouts have.
- Score: 4.0 pints
The food is ample and Western. Pizza, Mexican food, and roasted meats. Definitely try the vegetarian version of the nachos, which are piled high with fresh pico de gallo. The mozzarella sticks are also tasty and well-made. On a busy night, you may have to wait a little while for the kitchen to catch up with all the orders. It’s worth it.
Russell’s One-Line Review
“It’s worth going to say, ‘Shang Hi!’”