Like half of the population of Shanghai, we attended the launch of the Bund Brewery last Friday. Free flow beer, bring it on. Consequently, like half of the population of Shanghai, we were sweating more than the scantily clad men in last Thursday’s photo of the day. But, again, free flow beer, bring it on.
The Bund Brewery is your beer-hall-about-town, complete with park-style benches, large copper kettles and wood galore. Certain Shanghai loyalists might remember it as Fest Brewhouse, established back in 1998, but due to new management (Frank Steffen, the man behind a Future Perfect, Arch and syzygy) it’s undergone a face-lift, most noticeable in new pictures on the walls and of course, a new name. (Actually, we’re not exactly sure what is new other than the paintings. Friends who had been there before said the place looked pretty similar. Indeed, the old Fest sign is still outside and we were drinking from mugs that read “Shanghai Bund Brewage Co.”)
The food — if you were lucky enough to grab any on Friday — is an interesting mixture of international pub grub, ranging from figure friendly “Roasted Codfish” to clog your arteries “German Sausage Sandwich.” The beers — the venue’s raison d’etre — represent the most noticeable relic of its past, and are the same German brews that have been made on location since it first opened nine years ago. Reviews of the brews have historically been mixed: from “very disappointing” to “unexceptional” to “decent.” We didn’t hear many rave reviews on Friday, either (except about the price). We sampled both varieties: Bundlander Dawn and Bundlander Dusk, aka light and dark. For us, Dawn was a tad average on the tongue, but Dusk was much more punchy and wholesome.
The Bund Brewery is not free flow forever unfortunately, and the prices are what you might expect from the Bund area (no views, however): 48RMB for 0.5l pint and 88RMB for a liter. This is not your local (does anyone live near there?) but still more affordable than some other German brewhouses around town.
We plan on returning and checking out the Bund Brewery when it’s not packed with people looking for free beer. We think we’ll like the feel of the place … and maybe the beer will taste better second time around?
Dan Washburn contributed to this story.
The Bund Brewery, The Custom House, 11 Hankou Road, Shanghai
上海市汉口路11号. Tel: 6321 8447; weekdays 11.30am-1.00am, weekends 11.30am-4am.