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Boxing Cat Brewery, Shanghai

I made a trip over to the Boxing Cat last night. Six beers on draft: Bourbon Barleywine (11.9%), Nelson single hop IPA (6%), White IPA (5.8%), Sucker Punch Pale (5.5%), Right Hook Helles (4.5%), and a Red that I couldn’t read the chinglish name of (sometimes people will write american characters with Chinese-style strokes, which can make them difficult to read).

All were heavily carbonated – 3 vol at least, with the White IPA nearing 4 vol.

The Helles was very light, almost bodyless, but clean.

The White had a clearly “Belgian” yeast aroma and nose, almost bordering on a phenolic German weizen nose.

Nelson single hop was… dissappointing. You could pick out very small slivers of the new world Sauv Blanc fruitiness, but after that, just pale ale.

The Red was actually quite tasty, with a thinner malt body than I would prefer, but nice overall.

Sucker punch pale was… boring. Just boring.

The bourbon barleywine was a real headscratcher. The nose was in-your-face bourbon fruitiness, without the alcohol. The body was clearly dominated by bourbon without a very strong malt backbone. I really enjoyed this beer, especially the nose, but I couldn’t stop thinking that a nose this strong was wrong and out of balance.

The heavy carbonation was a big turnoff for me in these beers. I generally do not like heavy carbonation except where that carbonation brings access to new flavors or balances the body/alcohol. Technically, these were far superior brews to most of the made in China brews you can enjoy (for example, Tsingtao makes Heineken look almost skunk free). There was a complete lack of diacetyl and no noticeable cardboard/skunk notes from poor handling, long shelf life, or poor sanitation.

I feel as if this could be a great gateway brewery for Chinese nationals who aren’t used to the flavors we all so openly embrace in Belgian, German, and American styles. I wish they could be a bit bigger on the malt bill and really rock the Nelson in their single hop. On some level, I feel needlessly harsh in my review because the Chinese market is just opening up to western style beer and flavors and serving a Torpedo, a St. Bernadus Abt, or a Salvator would not be a big profit generator at this time I was the only westerner at a table of 10, and the Helles was by far (6) most popular. Two enjoyed the White IPA, even though it lacked heavy bitterness. Only one person liked the bourbon barleywine, but she had done 5 years as an expat in Germany and in the US, so her palate has been more broadly opened.

Cheers.

I was just over there in March. The Donkey Punch Porter was my favorite. :lol:

We also went to the Shanghai Brewery. Nothing really jumped out at me there either but after a week of just drinking warm Tiger and Tsingtao from the 7-11, it was a welcomed change!

The drinking scene over there was interesting to say the least.

I visited in 2009… they had this draft:

They had a different brewer back then (who I guess died), didn’t think the beer was all that great but it was nice change of pace from the Snow and baijiu.

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