Beer In Situ: Double Feature

This is a special Beer in Situ article: Two beerspots! On one hot, muggy Shanghai afternoon, we made our way first to Daga Brewpub and later to Liquid Laundry downtown. For you, my dear readers, sake…I’ve cut things down slightly for brevity’s sake. 
Daga Brewpub
Daga Brewpub

Daga Brewpub

  • 37 Taian Lu, near Xingguo Lu, Xuhui District
Random, floor-bound marble busts
Random, floor-bound marble busts

The Space

First of all, there is not a brewkit on the premises. It’s not so much a brewpub as a cafe that happens to sell craft beer. Milan-esque, in a way that only people who’ve spent time in Milan will understand. Noveau-Baroque marble busts greet you at the entrance, and the whole place is one well-honed aesthetic. The bar itself is a thing of beauty, a seemingly-antique wooden number that is both understated and striking at once.

Unfortunately, smoking is allowed indoors. Meh…just part of life in Shanghai. There is repetitive and mildly stereotypical zither music playing over and over for our first fifteen to twenty minutes in the cafe. This is also the rough amount of time it takes to successfully order two pints of beer. Like many places in Shanghai, the menu seemed not to match the kegs at all…many of the offerings were already gone. Oh well. Normal problems.

Menu
Menu

The Munchies

Exclusive, if expensive offerings. We didn’t sample this time.
How I navigate without a smartphone. Yes, I am a Neo-Luddite.
How I navigate without a smartphone. Yes, I am a Neo-Luddite.

The Crowd 

Almost empty on a Tuesday afternoon, which doesn’t explain why it took so long to get our beers. A group of rather divvy businessmen came in and spent ten minutes haggling over which particular (identical) bar table to occupy, and eventually settled on the one that had air conditioning to blow their cigarette smoke directly into our faces. Overall, a high representation of people sitting around on computers and negotiating things, without drinking a drop of craft beer.

The remnants of the Black IPA
The remnants of the Black IPA

The Beers

There was not a whole lot of information about the beers available, likely due to the crowd that simply doesn’t care as long as it has alcohol in it. The bar staff were somewhat knowledgeable, but not specifically trained for craft beer.
NB Niubi Black IPA (This was not the name on the board, by the way)
  • Style: Black India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: 6.9% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = real dark
  • Decent black IPA. It’s no Black Betty from Beavertown in London, but then again, nothing but Black Betty is. Fragrant, and a lot fresher than some of the beer served in Shanghai. Tastes roasty, with undertones of coffee and burnt toast.
  • Overall Rating: 4.0 pints (out of five pints)
The antique, wooden bar.
The antique, wooden bar.
American Wheat – Maybe made specifically for Daga?
  • Style: American Wheat Ale
  • Geekery: Around 5% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = carmel
  • Low carbonation, with a slight banana smell. Hop profile typical of an American wheat beer. Our conversation sums it up: ‘There’s no body to this beer.’ <–Me ‘Yeah, it’s like Hogaarden without the ho.’ <–Russ
  • Overall Rating: 2.5 pints
Artwork in the cafe
Artwork in the cafe

Baby Fat (Feet?!) IPA

  • Style: English-Style India Pale Ale
  • Geekery: not hugely strong ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = dark yellow
  • Slow burn tartness, with leafy and fresh tastes. It is slightly creamy and has an aftertaste of dried cherries. At the very end, it seemed (perhaps a placebo effect) to have a hint of Chinese Five Spice.
  • Overall Rating: 3.5 pints

Liquid Laundry

The outdoors of Liquid Laundry
The outdoors of Liquid Laundry
  •  Second Floor, K Wah Centre, 1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Donghu Lu, Xuhui district

The Space

Upstairs in a fancy building downtown, there is a swanky place with beer, music, cocktails, and food. We arrived in the afternoon, and all the bartenders were practicing their skills on a special Old Fashioned. They are clad in old-style waistcoats with white shirts underneath, and they visibly know their stuff. House-infused spirits in massive Mason jars all over the place. There was a large selection of house-made bitters in blue bottles in a line on the bar, lit up by the cheeky neon sign behind it reading: ‘Tap That.’

This place is Cool. It’s like a hipster with actual good taste got a LOT of money from somewhere and transplanted part of Shoreditch into Shanghai. There is a shiny, well-kept brewkit that is right behind the DJ turntable for late nights, and the place is massive. There’s a drinks section and a huge dining area.

The entryway.
The entryway.

The Munchies

A huge menu full of ever-evolving and delicious-looking fare. We’ll be back to eat here, for sure.

The bar, with bartenders.
The bar, with bartenders.

The Crowd

It was pretty empty when we came in, but the place filled up after working hours. It is popular with both locals and foreigners in Shanghai. A much more mixed crowd here than in Daga Brewpub, with women well-represented.

A throw pillow in the drinks lounge
A throw pillow in the drinks lounge

The Entertainment

Watching people coming out of the elevator, getting confused, and running back in. Sit on the couch near the bar, facing the entrance. Enjoy.

Sampler of six beers, for 110 RMB
Sampler of six beers, for 110 RMB

The Beers

Many of them made on-site, and many of them made by the parent group of the bar, Boxing Cat Brewery. All the beers have names that are plays on words in English, and they had about fifteen on tap when we visited. You can get a flight of six drafts (180ml pours) for 110 RMB, and most beers are about 40 RMB for a pour.

Alleycat Amber  
  • Style: American Amber
  • Geekery: 5.3% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = dark red
  • Unique, and malty. It’s not just another amber with a slightly watered-down taste. Clearly displays the quality of the malts used to brew at LL. Its aftertaste is burnt lemon peel, like the ones served with coffees in Rome.
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 pints
Cool as Saison 
  • Style: Saison
  • Geekery: 3.8% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = light and champagne-like
  • High carbonation and creamy. This is a light and drinkable beer that has a tiny bit of that spiciness only properly described as ‘Belgian-y.’ Would make a good beer cocktail with gin and cucumber.
  • Overall Rating: 3.9 pints
Something only a bartender would notice--well-polished squirrel cage lightbulbs.
Something only a bartender would notice–well-polished squirrel cage lightbulbs.
Standing 8
  • Style: Pilsner
  • Geekery: 4.9% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = pilsner-y and clear
  • Pilsners aren’t my thing, but they are a good measuring stick for a craft beer place. They are difficult to get right. This one is pretty good: clean, light, and not full of chemicals like the ones from my local supermarket.
  • Overall Rating: 3.5 pints
Miami Weisse   
  • Style: Hefeweiss
  • Geekery: 4.7% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = amber-ish, but cloudy and light
  • Clean and German-tasting. Very cloudy and creamy, which seems to be typical of the house yeasts here. Summed up by Russ: ‘It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s nice.’
  • Overall Rating: 3.5 pints
The shiny brewkit
The shiny brewkit
Laundry Latte 
  • Style: Um…Coffee Beer??? 🙂
  • Geekery: 5.4% ABV, unknown IBUs, SRM = light brown
  • This is a slightly acidic, sweet, and overwhelmingly coffee-tasting beer. It’s clear that they are using high-quality coffee here. It would go so very nicely with a New York or London Cheesecake. More of a dessert beer than a sipping style.
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 pints

A note on other reviews: I’m genuinely shocked to see people ripping on Liquid Laundry so hard online. Especially on TimeOutShangahi, people seemed to have had what I’d call a ‘meh’ time and gone full-on WTF WHY IS THIS PLACE A PLACE on it. I can only conclude that these people have never been to a craft beer place before, have terrible tastes, or are the type of douchebag that unfortunately seems to be drawn to the Xuhui District in droves.

There was nothing at all wrong with our experience. One of the best bars I’ve been to in Shanghai, and frankly…I go to a lot of bars. I’ll be going here for my birthday in October. Go decide for yourselves!

About the post

Beer In Situ

2 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Random marble busts, gotta love ’em!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: