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Great Leap Brewery in 2024

Great Leap Brewery

Formerly one of the most famous breweries in China and indeed the place to be in Beijing, what it is like visiting a post-Covid Great Leap Brewery in 2024?

It was back in 2009 when we had first started Young Pioneer Tours that I met the guys from Great Leap Brewery. I had met them in North Korea where they had been one a fact finding mission for their new brewery. You see unbeknown to many North Korea has one of the best microbrewery scenes in Asia. Why? Because quite simply that is how they make beer, rather than any form of hipsterism.

With said knowledge in hand they then opened their first bar, which was located in a Beijing Hutong. I will never forget just how hard it was to find, but the North Korean inspired beer was good and the “Great Leap” communist branding worked.

The Great Leap Brewery Phenomenon

Firmly set as the “first” microbrewery in Beijing they then started to expand, with me largely missing their growth as I was at the time managing my own DMZ Bar. During this time they opened 4 large bars in Beijing and became somewhat of an institution.

Chief among these locations was the one in the bar district od San Li Tun, a former favorite hunt of ours, as well as being home to the DPRK embassy and other great pubs such as Heaven Supermarket.

Said location not only became famous for being the hangout for locals and expats alike, but also alongside Slowboat Brewery of having the best burger. I last tried said burger in 2018 and while it was indeed good, it was not the best burger in Beijing – a subject I shall delve into later.

Cover of course meant that I could not return to Great Leap Brewery until now, 2024. The question is though, does it still cut the mustard?

Great Leap Brewery in 2024?

Having come to visit our partners from North Korea at the Mansundae Art Gallery, we decided that from a work and party point of view we should stay in San Li Tun. We picked the Super 8 and decided to check out the surroundings.

We were happy to see that some of the street food we loved was still here, but also some of the bars, chief among them Great Leap. We first went to check it out on a Saturday night, with us overall surprised that it was not as full as before. There are probably a number of reasons for this, not least the fact that so many westerns have now left the People’s Republic of China.

The bar though still had an aiming array of beers to choose from and brewing is obviously still being taken very seriously. I’m no craft, or microbrewery man, but my fellow cohorts got involved and enjoyed.

Their prices have also seemed to have stayed almost the same, with a good pint costing anywhere from $7-10, while a good G&T was a mere $5. In this respects it was me that had changed rather than them, in that I can actually afford these prices now.

Food wise the menu was still pretty epic, with the burgers and hot dogs on the menu being of the same ill as cakes and craft. Yet while there were good, with such a short time being spent here they could not in any way compare with the Chinese food on offer.

Is Great Leap Brewery worth visiting in 2024? Yes it is, but it is certainly no longer the social hub of Beijing that it once was.