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.
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 bronzeplated
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.
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.
By Nick Gollner