(Leon Mickelson and his team above)
The craft beer trend has made it even to Shanghai, China. In a country where beer is fairly commoditized with low priced local brands dominating the market, it might be surprising that craft beer is hugely growing in popularity in China. Kiwi Leon Mickelson at The Brew, at the Kerry Hotel in Pudong has had no small hand in this trend, raising the bar with his microbrews crafted on site at the hotel. “To be able to start a craft beer revolution is a very special opportunity,” says Leon.
A craft microbrewery inside a posh hotel in Shanghai might seem a bit unusual, but it works. It perhaps is the most posh “pub” I have ever seen, but if the evirons are in keeping with the quality of the beer, then one could say they are well matched.
And in this posh pub setting of The Brew, I had the special opportunity to tour and taste beer with Leon. In an hour with this Kiwi expert, I learned more on the art and craft of beer making than I ever expected to know. Leon brews 2 times a week using 10 different kinds of barley from lightly roasted to caramel roasted to smoked – using both local Chinese and imported barley from Germany. Leon typically makes six hand-crafted beers and a cider on site, from organic beers and fruit beers to a seriously hoppy IPA that will give Sierra Nevada a run for its money.
But for Leon perhaps the most fun to make are the seasonal brews, which change every 4 weeks. “I always have the classics but love to experiment with unusual combinations in my seasonal beers,” says Leon.
I did a beer tasting with Leon that included a low carb beer, wheat beer, fruit beer, pilsner, an IPA and a chocolate stout. As a beer lover I was surprised to enjoy things that normally aren’t my favourites.
While I never met a wheat beer, pilsner or IPA I didn’t like, I am usually less enthusiastic about the fruit beers and stouts. And low carb beer??? – usually tasteless! But Leon is out to change my mind with his flavourful low carb beer, a not sweet and well-balanced fruit beer and a surprisingly drinkable (for me) stout.
I will admit, I don’t often get over to the Pudong side of Shanghai, but I would say Leon’s hand-crafted beer is a strong lure and is definitely worth the trip.
The Kerry Hotel
1388 Huamu Lu near Fangdian Lu
Pudong, Shanghai, China
+86 21 6169 8886