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Boxing Cat Brewery

Jun 10, 2009
by Christopher St Cavish

Area: The new Boxing Cat Brewery is on the western end of Fuxing Lu, after it's intersected and done the curve with Huaihai Lu. Moroccan joint Marrakech is directly across the street; JZ Club, Tara 57, The Shelter, and Yongfoo Elite are just down the street near the Yongfu Lu intersection.

What It Is: The Boxing Cat Brewery is a comfy, American-style brewpub. It fits in with the rest of owner and serial restaurateur's portfolio -- Cantina Agave, Closed Door, iiiit! -- with its casual vibe and uncomplicated food. There's already one out west, in Minhang, but they've just opened in a handsome, three-story garden home in the French Concession.

The second part to the BCB equation is Texan Gary Heyne. Heyne's a character. (Classic Heyne-ism: "Man, he was high enough to hunt ducks with a rake...".) He's also the brewmaster and a walking beer encyclopedia. The first Boxing Cat has a larger setup for brewing their own, and that's where Heyne makes the bigger batches of the more popular beers. This new location has two smaller tanks, visible through a glass window on Fuxing Lu, that he's going to use for more specialized brews -- "Russian Imperial Stouts, man, I'm gonna be making some barley wines, some Scottish Ales, whatever, man, some beer" -- and eventually, vodka and sour mash whiskey.

Basically, what you got here is simple: good homebrewed beer and Southern American food. There's fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, deep-fried mac'n'cheese, pulled pork sandwiches, BCB's "Burger Masterpiece", Heyne's lovely gumbo, a grilled steak salad... You can see the full menu, including what they have on for Sunday brunch, here.

It's all Good Food, as I suspect Kelley Lee would call it. Nothing too fancy, but a definite step-up from your average bar. They make their own andouille sausage for the gumbo, have an in-house bakery above the tanks, smoke their own ham, make their own sour cream and buttermilk... Hell, they've got lentils on the menu. If lentils aren't your thing, there's lots and lots of beer. What's on tap is always rotating, but there's usually at least three of Heyne's brews available at any given time. At the moment, I think it's the Sucker Punch Pale Ale, Ol' Smokey Porter, and the Standing 8 Pilsner. His whole brewing portfolio, and a technical explanation of the process, is here.

Atmosphere: It's a relaxed, classy pub. The ground floor is split three-ways between a bar area with high communal tables, a lounge with upholsterd wood chairs and a stacked slate fireplace, and some outdoor seating that fronts Fuxing Lu. There's a lot of brick, wood, and leather scattered across the three floors. The top floor is a shockingly red attic space-cum-sportsfan lounge, with a pool table, foosball table, darts, Wii hooked up to a projection screen, and its own small bar. In between, the second floor is more of a dining room -- the floor where you'd come to have dinner with a beer on the side. (First floor is beer first, food on the side.) There's a nice balcony up there on the second floor, too, with an overhanging tree and a view of the street.

Damage: First, there's two ways to drink for free here: their Grand Opening Hoedown, this Sunday; and their 12 Pint Challenge. The Grand Opening starts at 4pm and includes a bunch of BBQ. The 12 Pint Challenge is you against 12 pints of their homebrew. If you finish -- and keep down -- 12 pints in two hours, it's free. Twenty people have tried so far; five have won. Apparently, after one of the winners lost his beers in the bathroom, he came back and drank three more. Ugh. Also, winners get a lovely picture of their drunk ass plastered on to the wall to commemorate the event.

For normal people, there are prices. They go 35rmb for a 13oz beer ("Our Generous Half-Pint"), 45rmb for a 20oz British Pint, 45rmb for four six-ounce sampler beers, and 100rmb for a 55oz pitcher. There's also a full bar here, with cocktails in the 50rmb range, and 14 wines by the glass.

Food is... well, look at the menu. All the prices are there. If you're just popping in for a burger and a beer, it's gonna be just over a hundred. If you're coming to drink anything less than 12 pints, figure that a hundred fifty will go a fair way towards a lovely inebriation.

Who's Going: Boxing Cat has the feel of both a comfy, neighborhood place and it's a good place to grab an after-work, Sunday afternoon, lunch break, weekday night, celebratory, restorative, quiet, early evening beer and you've got that crowd, which is everyone who goes to a bar. There are suburban warriors with rolled-up sleeves grabbing a pint before they've got to fight traffic, sports fans, and your general twenty-, thirty-, and forty-something crowd milling about on the first and third floors. The second floor, with its table and chairs, is geared more towards families and people coming for more than just a beer.
Opened:
June 2009

Address:
82 Fuxing Lu,
near Yongfu Lu
Taxi-Printout and Map

Reservations:
6431 2091

Hours:
Mon-Fri, 5pm-2am
Sat-Sun, 10am-2am

Cards:
No cards yet

Prices:
Sweet Potato Fries, 38rmb
Crispy Creamy Fried Mac & Cheese, 45rmb
Mini BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, 55rmb

BCB's Burger Masterpiece, 80rmb
Lazy Man Fried Chicken, 85rmb
House-Smoked BBQ Baby Back Ribs, 125rmb

13oz ("Our Generous Half-Pint") Beer, 35rmb
20oz British Pint, 45rmb
55oz Pitcher, 100rmb
Cocktails, 50rmb
Herradura Margarita, 65rmb
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