- The BREW at the Kerry Hotel
- 1388 Huamu Rd, Pudong, Shanghai (Metro is Huamu Road)
- Founded in 2011
- Dress Code (yes, dress code!): Smart Casual
“The BREW is an Australian-designed contemporary craft brewery with a vast beverage selection. Sample our six hand-crafted signature beers and one cider created by a resident brew master, along with the innovative pub-style menu. Watch your favourite sports on the television, listen to music or just relax on the outdoor patio with views of Century Park.” – Shangri-La Hotels, Kerry Hotel
The square itself is imposing. I found it a little weird to have to walk rough the hotel lobby’s thick cologne smell the get into the bar, and we had the slight misfortune to arrive in the middle of a scheduled fire drill. Luckily, they had the good sense not to light anything legitimately on fire, unlike at my school’s Chinese Fire Drill.
It it a bit like walking into a particularly nice brewery back in the USA. Crafty touches like plywood and coins glued to the bar go a long way. Also, I noticed that the brewing equipment was actually in use, which is nice to see since so many places in Shanghai appear to have a pristine break it due to making their beer offsite and trying to pull one over the customers’ eyes.
Unfortunately, the slick interior feels an awful lot like SODOSOPA from the last season of South Park. There is lounge music or top 40s playing, and it feels like it is deliberately trying to be fancy. Given the ceaseless stream of fancy international school buses outside, and the definitely-for-business-travellers-with-a-company-card prices, this makes sense.
Even with the up-market prices, there is a 15% service change on all tables. I sure hope that the proceeds actually go to the servers themselves.
We tried everything on tap, and genuinely enjoyed a lot of the selection. The first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Wow, that’s really clean!’ Russ remarked that the beers didn’t taste like they were make with Shanghai water. Most beer that is actually made here has a characteristic sourness that appears to come from the water, but the lagers especially lacked that trait at The BREW.
They seemed to specialise in session strength lagers, which makes sense given the market here. 4.5% ABV seemed to be the sweet spot. We also sampled a stronger coffee stout called Sumerian, which was mega flavourful and sticky (it seriously got everywhere). The beers were fresh and highly carbonated, but not typical of the US craft beer scene. This makes perfect sense when you consider that it was conceived as an Australian style bar.
Unfortunately, it appears that The BREW does not have a website all its own with the beers and their details on there. I tend to rely on that information when writing Beer In Situ, so these will be less technical notes than usual.
Skinny Green- Low-Carb Lager, 4.5% (IBUs Unknown)
Light, refreshing, and clean. There may well be some NZ hops in there, because of a slightly citrus taste and aroma. Very sessionable.
Razorback- Hard Apple Cidre, 4.5% (IBUs Not Applicable)
Indecisively dry and sweet a time the same time. A little funky and highly carbonated when cold. Drastically improved by being served hot.
Pils- Pilsner, 4.5% (IBUs Unknown)
Probably the best lager that I’ve had in Shanghai’s craft beer scene. Super clean and very Reinheitsgebot, with lower carbonation and pleasantly persistent bitterness. Very light in colour and alcohol.
White Ant- Belgian-Style Wit, 4.5% (IBUs Unknown)
I have a terrible head cold, so one should take anything I say here with a grain of salt…but I thought I caught a whiff of buttered popcorn smell on this baby. That’s a flavour that is not supposed to be in beer (diacetyl), but like I say I might have been tricked by the copious snot in my nostrils. This beer is funky but not really very nice, and tastes a lot like the counter beers I make in our apartment. I frankly expect better from professionals. This beer tastes ‘off.’
IPA -English India Pale Ale, 5.2% (IBUs Unknown)
I added the ‘English’ above because this is not your West Coast IPA. Very traditional and fresh, with a load of English hops (I’d bet good money the majority of which are East Kent Goldings). It has a nice Amber colour, and is well-executed. It cries out to be on cask and warmer, though.
Dugite- Vanilla Stout, ABV Forgotten (IBUs Unknown)
This is like a lower ABV Baltic Porter with copious doses of SO MUCH ROASTY BURNT TOAST FLAVOUR OMG. I said out loud, ‘Where is the vanilla?’ An intense and overall tasty beer, but a little weird.
Sumerian- Coffee Imperial Stout, 8% ABV (IBUs Unknown)
Best beer we tried. Complex, flavour-forward and strong. This is what one hope for from craft beer, in my opinion. The coffee is unique and has a fruity aftertaste that approaches Asian Pear in the finish (almost bubblegum-like). That might sound gross, but it was great.
FYI the tasting paddle is not on Happy Hour.
The menu is extensive, and one might be tempted to think that a place with an associate called The COOK would have good pub food. It’s just not there, somehow. My fish and chips was puny and although it was tasty I felt that 98 RMB was way too high for what you get. Russ had a fish burger which he characterised as ‘not bad.’
Russell’s One-Line Review
Russ is not inspired to give me a quote right now, so here is a picture of him reacting to the stories of the guys behind us instead. I can’t hear anything through my congestion, so I was blissfully ignorant.