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Dr. Beer

Nov 29, 2011
by Justin Fischer

Area: At the northern tip of the Fumin strip. Dr Beer resides in the space formerly occupied by Rex Club and Fame before that. It sidles up next to Pho Asia and just two doors down is expat Hunan haunt Guyi.

What it is: In an effort to expand a lucrative nightlife practice, Dr. Wine has brought on a new specialist, a brewery pub and restaurant.

Not long after Rex Club went tango uniform, the Dr. Wine team snatched up the space. Needless to say, it was a fixer-upper. They had to strip out about eight dump trucks' worth of sound insulation, concrete rubble, seizure-inducing lights, not to mention that massive steel vault door that used to seal the entrance.

After that, they had to find a brew master. They looked as far as upstate New York, where they found Teddy Gowan of Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company. With just over two years of commercial brewing experience he's a relative newcomer to the zymological arts. For now, most of what he's brewing is brew pub standards, five ranging from light and fruity to dark and malty. You've got: a wheat beer, a pale ale, a Pilsner, an IPA, and a dark ale.

Then, to supplement the beer they put together a surprisingly extensive menu ranging from classics like the Waldorf salad; both kinds of soup: onion and tomyum; a collection of kebab platters; as well as a selection of white pizzas and beer-oriented specials like roasted pork belly with dark ale sauce or a "brew master's stew."

Atmosphere: Aside from the steel brewing equipment shimmering behind glass, nothing about Dr. Beer really fits the brew house template. No weathered wood, brass bars, dart boards and snooker tables. Instead it's an airy and open space with high ceilings, polished concrete floors and a facade that can be folded open accordion-style. One wall is lined with planks of reclaimed wood. The other, simple exposed brick. In between is a DJ booth and hodgepodge of tabletops printed with patterns from circa 1972 as well as cowhide couches and a bar the color of rosewood. With a capacity of over 300 people, the place is enormous. The upside to that is you'll almost always have some breathing room. The downside, the place will probably never look full. And full-looking bars always have more curb appeal.

Damage: For beer, you have two options: "small" or "medium." Judging from an eyeball calculation, I'd say the medium is less than a pint. That goes for 58rmb. Small beers are 48. Sampler paddles with a small glass of each brew are 68. Some of the tables are fitted with self service beer taps. For 1950rmb they'll fill 20-liter keg with the beer of your choice. That will yield about 35 large beers. 2800rmb gets you a 30-liter keg, which is closer to 55 beers. 24-hour notice is required, by the way. For the hard stuff, bottle service is anywhere between 520rmb for Four Roses Bourbon and 2300 for Remy XO. Eats are anywhere between 38rmb for soups to kebab platters for 238.

Who's going: In my experience, which has been early evening, the place has been nearly empty. But, given the music selection and the bottle service, I suspect that Dr. Beer is going for a mix of Europeans and locals.

First Impressions: I applaud the ambition and am glad to see this space being put to better use than just another garish dice-rattler, but the beers just leave me cold. It's all drinkable, and I'd choose a pint of it over a tankard of Tiger in a heartbeat, but none of it's terribly memorable either--just standard-issue brews. Hopefully, in the coming months Gowan will start getting more creative.
November 1

83 Fumin Lu,
near Yan'an Lu


5468 1077

Daily, 5.30pm-2am

Beer, Small/Medium 48rmb/58rmb

Draft Table 20L/30L 1950rmb/280rmb

Waldorf Salad 52rmb

Onion Soup 38rmb

Roasted Pork Belly 68rmb

Rice Pudding 25rmb

Panna Cotta 32rmb
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