Excluding water, beer is the third most consumed drink after tea and coffee and is the most consumed alcoholic beverage. Beer is also thought to be the oldest fermented drink. So it is no surprise craft breweries have become a trend around the world offering a more flavorful and unique take on beer. Dongguan is no different. With breweries all over town, each brings a unique spin on this centuries-old beverage. HERE! reached out to breweries in Dongguan, and six got back to us with their brew of choice.
The craft beers on this list hope to appeal to a wide range of tastes and those who want a refreshing beverage for the summertime. It also takes a closer look at some of the more masterful, and dare we say brave, concoctions that highlight each location’s craftmanship. Craft beers represent not only the personality of the master brewer, but the city in which they are made. You might have tried some of these brews in the past or have seen them around town but never dared to taste.
If you decide to try all the beers on the list, be sure to drink responsibly.
Cloudy IPA | Big River
ABV: 6.5% / Price: 40 RMB
The Cloudy IPA is a new brew to Big River; they began making it in April 2020. The hazy orange-glow IPA has a low bitterness and flavors from four different kinds of aroma-infused hops.
“Most people think it has citrus fruit in it, but no,” Faber, Big River owner, said, adding it quickly became his drink of choice.
Those who enjoy IPAs are recommended to try, and those who tend to avoid IPAs are recommended to be adventurous with this one.
Big River opened in March 2019 and follows German brewing standards but has a Brazilian taste. The brewpub’s environment is relaxed, with brick and wood furnishings and appreciation for beer signs on the walls. Brewing tanks are along the far wall as you come up the steps. Big River has 12-14 beers on tap just waiting to be sampled.
Address: 2F, Bldg 25, Guangdong 33 Town, Dongsheng Road, Dongcheng / 东莞市东城区东昇路33号广东33小镇25栋2楼
Cucumber Saison | Brew Lab
ABV: 5% / Price: 35 RMB
The Cucumber Saison is by far the most refreshing beer on this list, with the vibrant taste of cucumber very present. This beer almost felt healthy to drink. It was as though I should have put cucumber slices over my eyes to relax while sipping.
Take a mad scientist who is obsessed with beer, and you get Brew Lab. The atmosphere has a cool and earthy feel. Along with the taps, there is a list on the wall of bottled beers.
Owner Jerry became interested in craft beer in 2012, after being introduced to it in Melbourne.
“I fell in love with it (craft beer),” Jerry said.
Interesting is an understatement describing the concoctions at Brew Lab. It is no wonder they have a sampling tray to try your choice of five beers at a time. I narrowed down my options to what my liver considered the healthiest choice.
To order be sure to scan the QR code at the table.
Address: NO.107 Yujing Mansion, Dongcheng / 东城区御景大厦地铺107号
Spring Breeze | Cheer Bar
“This is a new beer,” he said. He managed to pinch two bottles from the brewery before the rest were distributed. He talked about the process the beer underwent, saying it is difficult to make because of the lactic acid bacteria, which is the key ingredient to the sour beer. “It is not a commercial bacteria. It was created in a colleague’s lab,” Leo said.
Leo began homebrewing five years ago and distributing beer a year later. He said he enjoys the process of brewing and makes new beers for fun.
Address 1: Bldg 14 Loft 8, Guancheng / 莞城区工农8号创意园14号仓库
Address 2: No. 33, Yujing New Times Plaza, Dongcheng / 雍华庭愉景新时代广场33号
Osmanthus Wheat | Mo Brew
ABV: 5% / Price: 35 RMB
Though the menu offers drinks from hot milk to whiskey, I was there for one reason: a craft brew. The Osmanthus Wheat is the most popular beer at the brewpub and is number three on the menu. It is a sweet, flowery, wheat-based beer, with an equally sweet aroma and bright, crisp reflection.
Not to be confused with Suds, the name changed to Mo Brew in 2016 but the sign did not. The brewpub has been brewing in Dongguan for five years.
“We changed our name because Suds was difficult for the Chinese customers to say. Mo is Chinese for the foam on top of the beer,” Alex. owner and brew master, said.
The craft beer menu was only in Chinese but do not panic. The options easily translate with a quick WeChat translate scan. Brewing tanks are on the right as you enter, and taps line the far end of the room. The interior reminds me of a brewpub in the U.S. with its pinball machine, pool table and dartboard, along with its come-as-you-are style.
Address: No. 133 Vpark, No. 228 Lifeng Rd, Guancheng / 莞城区丽峰路228号Vpark商场133号
Green Plum Ale | Recluse
ABV: 4% / Price: 30 RMB
Green Plum Ale is a fruity beer which is not overpoweringly sweet and has a slightly sour finish. It is welcoming to most palates and offers a hint of freshness.
Opened in June 2020, Recluse, in Guancheng, is sandwiched between two other breweries on this list. They offer 13 styles of beer, with at least eight always on tap. The brews are made by brew master Ocean who began home brewing in 2015. From there he opened his first location in Qingyuan in 2017.
“I participate in the Oktoberfests in Dongguan and Shenzhen every year and supply beer to several pubs in Guangdong,” he said.
The environment in Recluse is cozy so long as the lights are dimmed; otherwise, the pink walls are reminiscent of a coffee shop when the lights are up. Chalk boards are on the wall above the bar with the name, number, price and alcohol percent of each drink. Of course, if you ask nicely you can sample the ones you are interested in. My bartender, Ryan, was very helpful in explaining the different drinks.
Address: No. 120, Bldg 1, Jinyu Huating, No. 228 Dongcheng Rd, Guancheng / 莞城东城路228号1单元120室
Black Cat Milk Stout | Naughty Frog Brewhouse
ABV: 4.2% / Price: 30 RMB
Brewed by Full Moon Brewery, the Black Cat Milk Stout is a smooth and creamy beer with hints of molasses and coffee. Its flavor is tamer than traditional milk stouts. The Naughty Frog Brewhouse is run by Michael and brew master Sam. Sam got into brewing for the simple reason he likes to drink beer. A friend introduced him to craft beer 10 years ago and he never looked back. With 18 beers on tap at all times, the brewhouse offers something for any craft beer lover.
The Naughty Frog Brewpub has a dark forest feel, with synthetic trees and branches along the walls and black lighting. Michael said the bar will undergo some changes within the next month. The brewpub has plans to expand its operations across Dongguan and soon China.
“There are enough good beers in China to help them expose (their craft). As we expand ourselves to different locations in China, we’ll find brewers there,” Michael said. He talked about creating a space for micro-brewers to make their beers from start to finish.
Address: No. 116, Zhongtian Vpark Commercial Plaza, Dongcheng Avenue, Guancheng / 莞城东城大道中天Vpark商业广场116号