In the heart of posh Xintiandi there are plenty of small boutique-y bars and lounges to frequent but the recently-opened joint called The Beer Shelf is a great find, especially if you are a fan of Belgian beers. Creator and owner Venus took the time to study the art of brewing in said country and thought it might be a good idea to bring its treasures to Shanghai. As an added bonus he is preparing to open a new venue across the street with the same fare but more options. It’s safe to say we whole-heartedly agree with all of his decisions.
Decor and ambience
The space is easy to see from the street as it’s lit up by a bright red awning sporting their namesake. It hangs over the storefront. Complete floor to ceiling glass make it hard to not glance inside and stop in for a pint. Walk through the door and you are accosted by walls of beers. Almost every surface of the small room is covered in different bottles of beer. Even the bottle caps and coasters are used as decoration, lining the bar and complementing several beer plaques and posters that cover whatever space isn’t yet used. They play jazz music, and the staff is helpful and knowledgeable. The only drawback is the size. There were about 10 people in there on a Monday night which was comfortable but it was a slow night. I couldn’t imagine what 5 more people would have felt like, most likely very claustrophobic. With the bigger location set to open in April hopefully that won’t be the case.
Food and drink
Beer, beer, and you guessed it beer! From Belgium to be specific, and boy is their selection extensive. Dark beers with names like Delirium Nocturnum (45RMB), White and Blonde beers (avg. 42RMB), Monk-brewed Trappists (avg. 45RMB), Triples, wild yeast fed Lambics… the list goes on. They have big bottles as well ranging from 750ml to 3L (130-800RMB). This doesn’t include the beer shelf itself, from which you can choose from anything you see on the walls: Achel, Grimbergen, Leffe, Maredsous, and Vedet and way more. They also offer daily specials; Hoegaarden on tap is always 30RMB and they also carry Chimay Draft on tap for 37RMB, my personal favorite. Delivery is also available for those looking to stock up on their preferred beers. The food is consistent with a beer bar, well a Belgian beer bar anyway. The cheese plate and ham baguette are pretty tasty and Venus promises that once the new store opens there will be pomme frites as well, the perfect accompaniment to any beer in his opinion.
This is a nice place to come relax with beer and friends. How many friends you will be able to bring along is the question. The selection alone should be enough to want to check this place out but an added bonus waits in the coming months with a brand new shop.
The Beer Shelf – 232 Danshui Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu (黄浦区淡水路232号, 近复兴中路). Tel: (0)21-6339-1962. Hours: 11am-late daily
See a complete list of our bar reviews here.
By Noelle Albert
Noelle Albert is a contributor for Shanghaiist’s Food Desk. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates to [email protected]!