It’s always nice to be regaled with news of a new opening in Beijing’s beleaguered hutong ‘hoods, no matter how small. Which is why we were happy to greet Zhujingban, a project by El Nido’s Zak Elmasri and Xiao Shuai, when it opened last month on the west side of Andingmen Neidaijie.
Though the decor is downplayed (more on that below), the premise is loftier, with the founders having established a structured mission statement in which to operate. Namely, Zhujingban runs on a simple 1/3/10 formula: one brewery, three months, ten beers. In effect, the bar serves as a residency to one chosen brewery for three months, during which time they serve 10 of their beers. Thus, you can pop in every season and find a whole new selection of fresh brews. As Elmasri puts it, “There is no point of stocking a beer that you can buy everywhere in Beijing. A lot of the breweries we are working with have never before been seen in China.”
The name, stands for the official representation to Beijing AKA “the Beijing office,” thus granting breweries from overseas an authoritative presence in the Big Smog.
The brewery that has been tasked with inaugurating Zhujingban taps is the international award-winning Taiwanese brewery Taihu (台虎). Amongst their ten brews, those that stood out to us were the mighty ABV 9.99 percent Long Island Iced Beer, the refreshing Sabro Sour IPA, a kumquat-brewed Taihu Kumquat, the “Apple Pie” cider, and their German-style smoked sour Lichtenhainer. Prices vary from RMB 45 to RMB 60 per snifter.
As for the interior, the dimly lit wood, brick, and green pleather-laden space shares an entrance with the new Gourmand foreign goods store next door, and probably the most eye-catching detail is the glazed terracotta roof that gives shelter to the bar area. With just a few long wooden tables and a high concrete ceiling, the roof was all Elmasri’s creation, “I knew we had to go industrial with this, because of the large windows and the ceiling. But I didn’t want it to be just another industrial beer pub,” he says. Less traditionally, there’s a standalone pinball machine in the corner for entertainment.
While we all have our favorite breweries and favorite beers at said establishments, Zhujingban is a welcome addition to the scene thanks to its shake-up of the usual approach and the opportunity to try new beers from further afield. Who knows, maybe your new favorite beer is from Taiwan or beyond, just waiting to be discovered.
Daily 4pm-2am. 221 Andingmen Neidajie, Dongcheng District
Images courtesy of the venue