German Beer Flourishes in Beijing

Beer enthusiasts in Beijing used to have a limited choice of brews for quenching the thirst worked up by touring the Forbidden City and climbing the Great Wall. Those days are long gone as a number of German-style brewpubs are flourishing in Beijing, offering a broader selection of beers to enjoy.

Inside the Forbidden City in the center of Beijing

German brewing techniques have a long heritage in China, dating back over a century to the establishment of a German colony in the port city of Qingdao. The best-known Chinese beer, Tsingtao, is a direct descendant of the lagers made by the original German Qingdao brewery. The vast majority of beers sold today in China, including Beijing Beer and the popular Yanjing, are German-style light lagers similar in taste to Tsingtao.

Under the category of history repeating itself, the German brewery Paulaner led the way for a new beer culture with the opening in 1992 of China's first brewpub, Beijing's Paulaner Brauhaus. As Western tourists and businesspeople began to flood Beijing in the early 1990s, Paulaner recognized that they would bring a thirst for familiar tastes. Paulaner Brauhaus in Beijing is faithfully modeled after its namesake in Munich, with decorations brought from Germany to give it a true Bavarian beer cellar look. The menu can also be mistaken for having come straight from Bavaria, with a full selection of hearty German specialties ranging from wursts and schnitzels to a delicious version of kasspatzle (homemade egg noodles smothered in cheese and sautied onions).

At the center of the brauhaus is the main attraction -- the gleaming copper kettles and tanks of the 15-barrel brewing system used to brew authentic Paulaner beers. My only disappointment on our visit to Paulaner Brauhaus was learning that just one beer was available. After tasting the Paulaner Premium Munich Lager, however, I quickly got over it. This classic Munich Helles beer has a golden color and robust flavor, with a delicate hoppy finish provided by the use of Bavarian Hallertau hops.

In addition to the Munich Lager, the Brahaus typically offers a Pilsner and Weissbier, along with seasonal specialties including Oktoberfest, Bock and Salvator strong beer. The bar scene at Paulaner Brauhaus is typically lively, highlighted by live music on the weekends and some weekday nights. Based on the success of the concept in Beijing, Paulaner opened 11 more Paulaner Brauhaus brewpubs across China -- in Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenyeng, Suzhou, Wuxi, Xian and Yinchuan.

Paulaner Bräuhaus Beijing
Kempinski Hotel, Beijing Lufthansa Center
50 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District
Tel: 6465 3388

In addition to Paulaner Brauhaus, there are several other German-style brewpubs in Beijing, including:

Drei Kronen 1308 Brauhaus Classic


Villa Castanea
(located near Summer Palace and site of the 2011 Beijinger Beer Festival)

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