's slick new Hotel Jen
is open for business, oozing all of the CBD
mod cons we will ever need in post-hutong Beijing. Key among its shiny new offerings is Beersmith, a self-proclaimed gastropub fixed on the corner of Guanghua Lu and the Third Ring Road. Shaded by the CCTV Pants building, Beersmith’s arrival is breaking news for the thirsty suits of downtown Beijing.
Beersmith’s imperious 625 square metres – almost 100 more than Great Leap #12
– are a pretty straightforward declaration of intent: not only is it the first and only brewpub in all of Guomao, it is also Burj Khalifa-huge. Entering from Guanghua Lu, a dozen bronze beer tanks emblazoned with a Chinese zodiac sign each hold a variety of Beersmith’s own beers, which are pumped up to ground level from whence they are brewed in the building’s basement. They are very beautiful tanks, and lend the venue a lick of that steampunk ’n’ beards aesthetic beer drinkers can’t live without slash
might’ve just about had enough of by now. A long dining space unfurls to the east, with plenty of sturdy furniture, TV screens and a tiled feature wall all handsomely lit by north-facing floor-to- ceiling windows.
For now, there are nine draught options, including a pilsner, a saison, a golden ale, an amber ale and an IPA, all of which are okay, the IPA being the most okay. Patrons of the city’s craft beer merry-go-round will note here a comparable brewing standard to that found at the established pubs, but with prices set roughly 10RMB higher per glass. Chunk-blowing as a 55RMB, 400ml glass – not pint – of ale is, a daily 5-7pm happy hour during which time all draught beers are two-for- one creates a traffic spike around which its core custom will be built, even if it does render the unhappy hour prices sadder still.
Beersmith soft-opened with an all-day, 50 percent off everything powerplay that set more than a few chins awag about its food – mainly its ‘Porter’ beer-marinated black pork ribs. We can mostly see why. A thick slab of fatty ribs with a charred candy glaze is a luxurious display of culinary manspreading and is perfect with a glass of the eponymous stout, even if the mash on the side rings irrefutably of reconstitution. Beer-battered fries are a highlight, the burgers are burgers and the beer-battered crispy calamari spicy aioli is okay but served atop a bed of stale popcorn. It will all make more sense when you’re a couple of pints down, though.
So this is what a post-work ale session looks like in 2017. Notably, it’s in the CBD, it’s in a hotel, which is in a mall, it offers unrivalled Ring Road charm and it’s enormous. We’re not going to cross town for the atmosphere, nor will we delight in eating the food sober, but we’ll no doubt be here with greater frequency than we’d have guessed this time last year. Beers are quite expensive, except for when they’re quite cheap, and when they’re the latter, it’s worth buying one and pouring it out for the fallen haunts of the hutongs.
Dinner and a couple of pints for two: 450RMB