There's a new bar joining Gulou's ranks, and it's from the brains behind El Nido and Fang bar. Led by Xiao Shaui and Zak Elmasri, Zhu Jing Ban – the name of representative offices in Beijing – promises new hutong headquarters for beer enthusiasts to call home.
Located next to imported food store Gulou Gourmand on Andingmennei Dajie, Zhu Jing Ban's concept revolves around a rotating tap residency, with brewers from across the globe subbing in to show off their wares during three-month-long stints.
Xiao Shuai, one of Beijing's earliest pub pioneers, has close ties to brewers both local and from abroad, and plans to use these connections to keep Zhu Jing Ban's taps well stocked. It's a way for overseas brewers to dip their toe into Beijing's drinking scene, and in return 'they can put their support behind [Zhu Jing Ban], either by sending one of their brewers along, or by releasing smaller batches of unique beers through our space,' his El Nido partner Zak Elmasri tell us.
For fans of local brews, Zhu Jing Ban doesn't currently have only plans to showcase Mainland brewers. As Elmasri points out, 'We probably wouldn't put on a residency with commonly found Beijing brew brands – that isn't very interesting, really.'
In line with their goals, first up on the beer circuit is Taiwanese brewery Taihu Brewing
, led by head brewer Winnie Hsu who's been in the craft brewing game for over 12 years since opening Gordon Biersch's first Taipei location. During their Zhu Jing Ban residency, punters can expect to try a range of tried-and-true favourites, along with a few beers to be released exclusively during their time in Beijing.
All beer aside, Zhu Jing Ban's also home to a limited anniversary edition pinball machine. Based on Adam West's Batman television series, it features the original soundtrack, sound effects and even voice recordings from Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) themselves. In other the words, 'it's the s**t!' according to Elmasri.
Arguably the only bar in Gulou with a pinball machine, Elmasri's a lifelong fan, we're told, and plans on making it a key part of Zhu Jing Ban with monthly competitions and pinball happy hours. High scorers or those who make it onto the grandmaster board will also get the chance to win free beer. Good news then, for those still missing pints-and-pixels emporium 8-Bit.
Zhu Jing Ban's launch party kicks off today (Saturday 30) at 4pm and will continue until the wee hours (2am). Taihu head brewer Winnie Hsu will be on hand to answer any questions as well as hand out limited edition gifts (including those of a boozy variety). See you there!
Zhu Jing Ban (驻京办) 221 Andingmennei Dajie, Dongcheng district.