Arrow Factory has been around for a while now, but the microbrewery’s first fully blown taproom and restaurant has been a long time coming. From the short-lived collaboration with Shunyi’s Charcoal to the popular but tiny tasting room off Wudaoying Hutong, finding a solid foundation in the heart of Beijing didn’t exactly happen overnight.
The new space is worth the wait, however. The taproom, in the space formerly occupied by the Vineyard Café on the River, is everything we could have hoped for, and the kitchen team have nailed the food pairings right off the bat.
The three-storey space has been converted to house the brewing apparatus on the first floor; you can see the shimmering stainless-steel tanks as you climb the stairs to the bar. The space’s exposed brick, soft tones and white-washed walls give it an open, friendly vibe. We slide into a very comfortable Scandinavian-ish bar chair (who says chairs with backs aren’t cool?) and get to work.
We are happy to report that Arrow Factory’s brews are now dependably on-point. Most likely due to large demand and a small brewing operation, distributed Arrow Factory at bars around town was inconsistent at best. With huge new tanks and downtown digs, that should now be a thing of the past.
Everything we try here is well-poured, fresh, properly chilled and without a hint of improper carbonation. We recommend the Two Birds Lager (40RMB) for something light, the Pilgrim’s Progress Amber Ale (40RMB) for a beer in between and the Seeing Double IPA (45RMB) if youwant to go big. The staff are knowledgeable and eager to help you sample your way through the beers.
The food menu is all about meat, with the hand of owner Will York, who also runs English sausage fest Stuff’d, clearly at work. The sausages are hard to beat, from the North African beef merguex (76RMB) to the classic English banger with herbs and even a Beglian saucisse de choux with carrot, onion and fresh marjoram (both 70RMB). Served with battered chips, beer-caramelised onions and salad, they are full-on meals, not just beer bites. The steak sandwich (85RMB) and Reuben (60RMB, lunch only) are even better, but both would benefit from even more meat, even if it meant a higher price tag.
Even before you consider the reliably tasty brews, central location and gorgeous rooftop terrace, it’s worth stopping by for the food alone. Arrow Factory Taproom is a fine example of working on a formula until you get it just right. Looks like competition in Beijing’s craft beer scene is really starting to heat up.
By Nick Gollner