Great Leap Brewing Taproom (Xinzhong St. Shop)



Just follow the punters through the imposing iron door into bearded winemaker Carl Setzer’s newly opened Gongti flagship. Setzer and his wife Liu Fang, have re-imagined the gastropub experience for the Beijing audience. It’s lost a lot of the charm of the original but mostly made up for it through the advantages of its massive scale. The novelty of chatting with the proprietors about how they make their brews, for example, is lost in this high-decibel, high-turnover pub. But that doesn’t detract from the fine taste of the beers – the hoppy Honey Ma Gold (35 RMB), with its nose full of Sichuan peppercorn, the malty, fragrant crispness of the Banana Wheat (50 RMB), or the smooth, amber-colored, slightly sweet Cinnamon Rock Ale (35 RMB). Not all brews measure up, though – the bland Prosperor (40 RMB) tasted vaguely bitter, while the cloudy Heaven on Earth Kölsch (40 RMB) was low on suds. This was especially disappointing as the GLB has a state-of-the art tap system that connects directly to the in-house brewery, ostensibly allowing staff to pull smoother, more reliable drafts. Four brews, taken from GLB’s rotating list of a dozen or so craft ales, were available on tap when we visited, and by the time you read this a full complement of 12 should be available. The menu also has basic mixers and house red and white wines (all 40 RMB). Plentiful, well-trained waiters somehow manage to pacify the roaring, mostly expat, crowd with attentive service. Most can speak English but getting them to explain the beers in their second language is something of a stretch. A list of all beers and their ABV is buried in the back of the menu, but it currently lacks a detailed introduction to the various types.