Beijing Set To Host First-Ever Craft Beer Festival

Breweries Taking Part Include Great Leap Brewing, Boxing Cat Brewery, Strong Ale Works

Beijing's first-ever craft beer festival takes place June 2, 2012

Beijing’s emerging craft brewing scene will get another shot in the arm next month with the city’s first annual Craft Beer Festival, taking place on June 2 at Beijing Shijingshan Electrical Relay Factory. The event, the first of its kind in the Chinese capital, comes off the heels of the first annual Shanghai Beer Week and Sinan Mansions Beer Festival, the latter of which attracted over 2,000 attendees. As Michael Jordan, brewmaster of Shanghai’s Boxing Cat Brewery, told Jing Daily this week of the turnout at the recent event, “Shanghai beer week was very successful, and we are happy to see craft beer gaining a foothold in Shanghai…we were thrilled that people came out in droves despite the poor weather. It lets us know that we’ll need additional space for the event next year!”

The Beijing Craft Beer Festival will showcase the best in craft beer from Beijing and Shanghai breweries and some of the country’s growing ranks of homebrewers. As Carl Setzer, Beijing Craft Beer Festival co-organizer and brewmaster of Great Leap Brewing, told us, “The event itself is going to be held at a decommissioned electronics factory in the Dashilar area of Beijing’s Qianmen District. For the day we’ve brought in Boxing Cat Brewery, Strong Ale Works of Qingdao, our Bavarian friends from DK1308 and Fuerst Carl and Slow Boat Brewery of Beijing.” In addition to dozens of unique hand-crafted beers, the event will feature food tents offering everything from tacos and pretzels to Thai fish cakes and desserts, as well as a bouncy castle for the kids. 75 percent of net ticket proceeds will be donated to the Beijing Homebrewer’s Society to help get Beijing’s first homebrewing store off the ground. (A good cause, if there ever was one.)

Great Leap Brewing in Beijing

As Setzer added, the Beijing Craft Beer Festival “is Great Leap’s attempt to catch up to our brothers in Shanghai who just executed the Shanghai Beer Week and created a standard for craft beer festivals in China. We want Beijing to know that craft beer has just begun here and we have bigger and better things planned for the northern capital.” Setzer noted that this will the first time for Qingdao’s Strong Ale Works and Shanghai’s Boxing Cat to come to Beijing, and pointed out that the festival is for producers only, so imported brands and industrial beers will be scarce or non-existent. “Chances are,” Setzer points out, “the guy who made the beer will be the one serving you, and this is very important for Great Leap and the other craft breweries.”

With fewer craft breweries than Shanghai and an overall newer craft beer scene, Beijing is becoming known as one of the brightest spots in the country’s burgeoning homebrewing landscape. As the Boxing Cat’s Jordan told Jing Daily, “This is great for Beijing, as the homebrewing community can really foster growth for craft brewing — much like it has done in the USA.” Jordan added that he and the Boxing Cat team are looking forward to participating with Great Leap and seeing what Slow Boat and the German microbreweries located in Beijing bring to the festival. Reflecting on the broader development of the craft beer movement in China, Jordan said, “I foresee more ‘tier 1 city’ participation in craft beer festivals, with Beijing and Shanghai especially, with the creation of the China Craft Brewers Association. We anticipate having the Beijing brewers represented in Shanghai for the next beer festival in late September.”

Shanghai's Boxing Cat Brewery will bring six beers to the festival

With most Beijingers still accustomed to light lagers in the mold of Tsingtao or Budweiser, the event will give the city’s growing number of local craft beer lovers the chance to try something new and more flavorful. As Setzer observed of the Beijing craft beer scene in 2012, “Compared to last year, we are seeing an increase in Chinese drinkers. It’s really fun to see — groups of college friends, coworkers and Weibo foodies are making up a majority of our daytime and Sunday drinkers these days.” In terms of customer breakdown, Setzer notes that expats still make up Great Leap’s core base of regulars, but locals are becoming more enthusiastic due to the brewery’s use of familiar local ingredients and flavors. It is, he says, “really encouraging to see this just in year two” of Great Leap Brewing.

Added Setzer of the Beijing Craft Beer Festival, “Since its the first annual festival, we are trying to be prepared, but also don’t have the expectation that every beer drinker in Beijing is going to come out for it. We just want everyone to have a great time and walk away with a little bit more hope for China’s craft beer industry.”

Tickets for the Beijing Craft Beer Festival are 200 yuan (US$32) and include 15 tasters and two full glasses of craft beer. After thirsty drinkers finish their samplers and tasters, additional beers can be bought with cash directly from vendors until supplies run out. 

Running from 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM, the festival will provide free shuttle buses from Paddy O’Shea’s to the event venue at Dashilan’r, with buses departing at 12:30 PM, 2:00 PM and 3:30 PM. The last pick-up departing from the festival leaves at 3:30 PM.

In total, more than 20 craft beers will be on tap at the festival. Setzer has it “on good authority we will have well over 1,000 liters of beer on site…so people should come prepared to leave happy.”
Great Leap Brewing – 8 beers: Pale Ale #6, Little General IPA, Iron Buddha Blonde, Silver Needle White Ale, Aggressor, Chocolate Stout, East City Porter, Honey Ma Gold
Boxing Cat Brewery – 6 beers: TKO IPA, Right Hook Helles, Sucker Punch Pale Ale, Brawlin’ Belgian Witbier, Revolution Red, Bourbon Barrel-Aged King Louie Imperial Stout
Slow Boat Brewery – 4 beers
Strong Ale Works – 3 beers
German craft brewers – Helles and Wheat beers

First Annual Beijing Craft Beer Festival (Saturday, June 2, 2012)
Organized by Great Leap Brewing and SeeDiceGo Productions
Beijing Shijingshan Electrical Relay Factory
No. 8 Dawailangying Hutong, in Dashilan’r near Qianmen (Map)
For tickets/Additional information, contact


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