Even if it is 15-times as delicious and 15-times as refreshing, that a craft beer in Beijing will fetch roughly 15-times the price of a Yanjing is astonishing. On top of the hops, you’re hoping for for a bit of atmosphere with your 45RMB-plus point.
Transmountain represents a curious addition to Beijing’s craft beer
scene. We’re in the lesser-frequented Zuojiazhuang neighbourhood, which despite sitting a mere kilometre due north of Dongzhimen is relatively off the map if you’re interested in anything other than a 'massage'. The area carries a distinctly local energy, and while bougie beerhouses
may well be in its stars, the contrast between it and the surrounding home-style restaurants – where dinner costs less than a Transmountain pint – is stark.
Warm light from the five-seater bar beckons the business in from canopied Zuojiazhuang Xi Jie, the bar itself the natural focal point of the space, with a Chinese-only chalkboard menu listing available brews.
There’s no denying Transmountain’s 30 beer taps are impressive. Most of the offerings here are Chinese; beer enthusiasts will recognise Beijing staples Jing A
and Slow Boat
, and super connoisseurs will clock Feng Shou from Sichuan, as well as Transmountain’s own range, which is brewed in 798
. Prices hover around, or slightly above, what you might expect from any Beijing taproom, though with some brews being served in smaller, winier glasses, it pays to ask the bartender which vessel they will be filling pre-purchase.
The design team at Transmountain have gone with a clean, perky aesthetic: white walls, cream furniture and bone-white wisps of cigarette smoke setting an unfamiliar beer-drinking tone. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is undeniably stiff. Music is played low, the audible chinks of beer glasses underscoring that you’re here because you wanted to drink a beer, so drink it.
A chirpy menu of hotdogs, fries and a Japanese sea-snail dish among other bar snacks render the evening a shade more jovial, but again, it’s more about the cold ones, and with the effort Transmountain has put into its well-curated and extensive offering, we’re fine with that. Also, it has a home delivery growler service.
Transmountain is a first for this relatively understated neighbourhood, but with the arrival of more established food and drink concepts later this summer (including Bottega
), this neck of the woods appears set to feel the full squirrel grip of gentrification. Overall, it’s a little 'Taiwan lite' for ours, but if you’re after a quiet nook to deconstruct the bejesus out of your Chardonnay barrel-aged barley wine, you could do worse.