It’s always beer o’clock at the Shanghai Brewery! Who knew the city needed another big bar where big boys could watch big games? It did, and our ebullient newcomer has swept us off our collective pins and made a big splash in the Hengshan-Dongping axis of fun. The huge windows, beautiful wood interior and shiny beer pipes are all the invitation needed to stroll in, kick back and enjoy a delicious home-brewed beer.
Shanghai Brewery 2 captures the warmth and welcoming atmosphere associated with traditional local neighbourhood pubs, and its location at the heart of the premier residential and night entertainment district of Shanghai’s former French Concession area makes it a convenient destination for both the many nearby residents, and also visitors from other parts of Shanghai. Set into two levels of a prominent corner building facing the elegant tree-lined avenue now named Hengshan Road, Shanghai Brewery 2 is the second branch of the successful microbrewery operation that opened their first Shanghai Brewery in the Hongmei area of Shanghai in 2010. Under the direction of two passionate brewmasters, Shanghai Brewery, at both locations, serve selections of delicious hand-crafted beers that are brewed fresh on the premises. The fresh brews are complimented by a diverse menu of gastropub cuisine- with many popular dishes that provide a first-rate dining experience. And sports fans are catered for with numerous large LCD screens and projectors that feature live broadcasts of major international sporting events. Shanghai Brewery 2 offers a variety of spaces for relaxing and enjoying their brews and food, ranging from the open-air terrace at the front entrance, that also extends down the side of the building, to the main interior barroom, and a further bar and accompanying dining spaces on the first floor, which also houses the microbrewery operations. The interior features a contemporary, industrial chic style- with timber flooring, white ceilings with exposed stainless steel ducting, and custom designed and crafted, solid timber barstools, high-tables, and dining furniture, providing a relaxed and comfortable environment for social drinking. Elements of the brewing process are prominently featured within the room- with a large gleaming stainless steel brewing vat the centrepiece display behind the sleek solid timber bar. The upper level, accessed by a broad staircase with further stainless steel brewing vats prominent behind glass at the head of the stairs, offers further dining spaces- including a large private room at the rear- also with glass panels showcasing the functioning microbrewery production facilities.
The kitchen at Shanghai Brewery is recently under the direction of experienced UK chef Justin Birmingham, who brings his extensive culinary skills to his role as Executive Chef- honed whilst cooking in the kitchen at a Michelin 2-starred restaurant in the UK- ensuring a consistently high quality dining experience. The dining menu features a wide ranging selection of popular international gastropub-style dishes that should satisfy most appetites. The cuisine encompasses hearty serves of classic British pub dishes such as Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash; 12 inch Pizzas in many varieties; Grilled prime imported Steaks; Burgers and Sandwiches; Mexican favourites such Fajitas; Pastas and Salads; and the quintessential German dishes to accompany beer such as Crispy Pork Knuckle, Mixed Sausages, and Pork Schnitzel. As a functioning microbrewery, the refreshing house-brews are the main attraction for drinkers at Shanghai Brewery. The bar always has on tap the six styles of house beers brewed on the premises, plus further special seasonal brews for limited periods. The range of the beer styles include Weizen (wheat beer), Pilsner, Stout, Lager and IPA ( Indian Pale Ale). A good option for those not familiar with the beer varieties is to order the Sampler Set- with a selection of four of the beers served in smaller 220ml glasses. And unusually for a microbrewery, which typically only serve their own brews, Shanghai Brewery also offer on tap, and by the bottle, a good selections of local and imported beer brands. In addition to their beers, the drinks list features an intriguing list of beer cocktails, coupled with selections of classic cocktails. And for non-beer lovers, wines, champagnes and spirits, together with non-alcoholic beverages, are all available from the bar.
One of our favourite bars in town, this second branch from the Shanghai Brewery team (the first is on Hongmei Lu) is set over two spacious floors in a great location on the corner of Hengshan and Dongping Lus. Their range of quality hand-crafted beers – brewed on-site and a cut above the other microbrews in town – are complemented by a menu of classic pub food from the tasty bangers and mash to mouthwatering burgers and sizzling fajitas. From the beers (standard, 35RMB; large, 48RMB; four beer sampler set, 58RMB), we like the Czech-style People’s Pilsner, which slips down dangerously easy, and the strong bitterness of the North Star IPA. The rich, smokey Black Eyed Bear stout is another favourite, while the peach beer is especially popular with female drinkers.
There’s also a good range of lagers on tap and in bottles as well as extensive wine and cocktail lists, including an array of beer cocktails. The food menu ranges from tasty traditional pub fare (we particularly recommend their double burger Tuesdays) to German and Mexican dishes. The bangers and mash with pilsner gravy and the heaping el nachos grande are two of our favourite pub dishes in Shanghai. The laidback pub is also a great spot for watching big sporting events with large TV screens dotted throughout the bar and a four metre-wide screen lowered at one end of the bar for big games. With smart, friendly service and better beers than your average sports bar, Shanghai Brewery draws a large audience for major sporting events without feeling uncomfortably crowded as with other bars in the area. The positioning of the sports screens on the first floor means that they are viewable from anywhere in the bar without being in your face, while the second floor space gives the venue the flexibility to host dedicated mixers, private events and activities such as Wednesday night salsa dancing. Private rooms are also available for booking upstairs.
That corner of Dongping and Hengshan opposite Sasha’s that seemed in a constant state of disrepair has been given a new lease on life with the welcome arrival of Shanghai Brewery’s second branch. The interior of this new micro-brewery, all angles and shiny pipes, is a well-designed space that could have come straight from a chic European capital. Service is helpful and the atmosphere airy and modern. Yes, it’s a classy sports bar that is carried off with a certain elegance. There are multiple televisions and a projector showing sports, but one isn’t left with the overwhelming sensation of being surrounded by screens. If you want to watch the match you can, but it’s not completely in your face. Then, of course, there is the beer. Shanghai Brewery has been building a good reputation at its Hongmei Lu location based on the quality of its micro-brewed ales (RMB35/regular, RMB48/pint). There are no less than eight choices on the new menu (though only six were available when we were there), with options ranging from lager to stout and pretty much everything in between.
The highlight for us is the crisp and cleansing People’s Pilsner, a dangerously drinkable pint that certainly hits the spot after a hard day. A powerful, meaty North Star IPA will set taste buds buzzing, although the Hongmei Amber Hefeweizen was disappointingly watery. We were surprised by the creamy Peach Weizen beer (definitely one for the ladies), which grows on you after a few slurps. In addition to a fresh pint, they’ve also got a wide array of bottled brews, intriguing beer cocktails (RMB32-55) and an extensive food menu. Is there anything else you would expect from your classic Shanghai pub? In an area rapidly becoming prime pub-crawl territory, Shanghai Brewery complements the existing choice of bars, with a sharp atmosphere and fine beverages.
This microbrewery on Hongmei Lu has been open since late last year but only popped up on our radar last month. It’s a large space that churns out eight of its own brews, from its light People’s Pilsner to its rich North Star IPA, as well as a sweet Peace Weizen and a Black Eyed Bear Stout (all at RMB46 for a pint or RMB28 during happy hour). The food is equally diverse, from Mexican to Italian, but is surprisingly flavorful given the range. Throw in tasteful decor, friendly staff, plenty of space, excellent pool tables and a lavish upstairs terrace and you have one of the nicest spots in Hongqiao, and one fitted out to suit all tastes, from groups of girls to sport-addicts.
Part microbrewery, part restaurant, and altogether impressive, Shanghai Brewery is largely regarded as the home of the best beer in Shanghai. Aside from their world-class and vast selection of brews, Shanghai Brewery is an excellent venue for dining. The restaurant features international cuisine specialties, prepared by chefs who have worked at 5-star hotels. Shanghai Brewery is famous for the American food with many people raving that their burgers are the “best in Shanghai”, and that their thin-crust 12″ pizzas are equally delicious. The restaurant also features steaks that are high-quality imported Australian beef. In addition, Shanghai Brewery also features delicious Tex-mex fajitas and quesadillas and even nachos. Shanghai Brewery is also a great venue to watch all sorts of international sports events on the 14 flat screens and 4 large screen projectors. Or, you can relax and play some pool on their two professional quality pool tables. Shanghai Brewery is even children friendly, and for the kids, Shanghai Brewery has a Kids’ Room with Xbox and Wii computer games, DVDs, kids games and coloring books.
It may be so, at least between 2pm to 8pm on weekdays and 4pm to 8pm on weekends. Located on Hongmei Lu’s Laowai Street, Shanghai Brewery has an almost mindbogglingly well-priced happy hour price – their homemade beers are just 28rmb for a big glass (and 20rmb for a smaller one). Shanghai Brewery apparently got its start less than a year ago with two brewmasters at the helm – Geoff Engel (who says he’s breen brewing since he was 18) and Sam Hua, formerly of Henry’s Brewery & Grill. The decor echoes that New American Brewery feel of The Boxing Cat and the Bund Brewery – big copper kettles, sleek dark wood bar, and walls of logs. The polish makes it stand out compared to the Comic Sans logos and cheap prints all over the rest of Hongmei Lu. But heck, they could be a street stand for all we cared – what we wanted to know was how good the beers were. Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint. While a Peach Weissen was a little too cloying and a little too non-alcoholic for our tastes (and I, personally, resent that anyone would think I’d like it better because I’m a lady), their other brews were hits across the table.
We especially enjoyed the Hong Mei Amber Hefeweizen, which was rich but still refreshing with a slight tang of sweetness, and the People’s Pilsner, a hoppy blend with a clean finish.