Panda Brew Pub

  • Bars
  • Microbreweries
14 Dongsi Beidajie

The newest installment in the string of venues and brewing operations with the Panda Brew label, this brewpub initially got our attention when it started slowly opening its doors late last year. From the get-go we wanted this addition to the growing craft beer scene to be good – we knew its sprawling three floors of hardwood tables, two bars and nine massive fermentation tanks had barrels of potential.

Alas, Panda Brew skillfully maintains the appearance of a quality microbrewery taproom, but the reality is much less glamorous. We can only imagine the pile of money that was poured into this place – from top to bottom Panda Brew is decked out in the best and brightest beer-making baubles. Floor-to-ceiling plate glass shows off the shiny brewing gear, a custom steel staircase proudly reminds you where you are; even the urinals in the men’s toilets are made from bronze-plated kegs.

This is all well and good, but did anyone taste the beer?

Of the custom brews on tap, the Too Young wheat beer (35RMB) is a pleasant, easy drinker, with a smooth, clean finish you’d expect from a Belgian white. As for the other brews, the Pure Red honey ale (38RMB) and Brown Bear brown ale (38RMB) are the best, but even they lack the complex and fully developed flavours we’ve come to expect from craft beer in the capital.

On one visit they tasted like the efforts of a home brewer who was finally getting the hang of things, on a later trip both had sweet floral fronts but a lingering, bitter aftertaste.

Panda is a clear example of the cart getting placed several miles before the horse, and just hoping things fall into place. We left disappointed that more of the time and money that was clearly poured into the space wasn’t spent on, well, making better beer.

If the beer was an afterthought, the food was forgotten altogether. Pizzas arrive on tortilla-like flatbreads, while the wings are far too expensive (68RMB per pound) and flavourless. Avoid. At this point all we can do it pray that the contents of the taps catch up with the impressive space. In the meantime you’ll find us drinking around the corner at Slow Boat.

Venue name: Panda Brew Pub
Opening hours: Open 6pm-2am daily
English address: 14 Dongsi Beidajie, Dongcheng district
Chinese address: 东四北大街14号
  • 4 out of 5 stars