Dash is back with another dispatch from a bar. He has mentioned Bar 798 before but has put together a much more in depth review for us all. After boozin’ it up at Birdland and reading this review, I’ll be hitting up Bar 798 soon. Take it away, Dash:
And so, the search for good beer goes on. While wandering around the Times Square area a while ago I found the 798 bar near Howard Johnson’s (Jìnhé) serviced apartments near Xinghu Jie.
My curiosity led me to what looked like a quiet (can anyone really apply the adjective ‘quiet’ to China?) shopping centre where many of the retail outlets look empty. The 798 bar (actually 798 Craft Beer Restaurant Workshop, 798精酿啤酒工坊餐厅 ) is on the west side of the shopping centre facing the Ferris Wheel. (Apparently, 798 is a play on words – the pronunciation of 7 and 9 in Chinese is qījiǔ which sounds like píjiǔ (beer) and 8 (bā) sounds like bar.)
This is a brewpub run by a friendly Chinese gentleman who calls himself Jack. He’s one of the owners and the brew master. He brews 5 or so beers on the premises. The brews vary and Jack tries his hand at new beers from time to time. He does a damn good job too. Some brews are pretty standard; a lager, a stout, an IPA, a wheat beer and a then there are couple of other beers. Jack gives his beers rather exotic names (or am I a pleb when it comes to poetry?) like ‘The Love of Tau Hua Island’ (an IPA), ‘The Love Story of Pepper and Wheat’ (a wheat beer), ‘Stout of Du Shu’ (of course, a stout) and ‘Sweet Scented Osmanthus’ (the flower of
this plant is usually used to make tea and osmanthus is, incidentally, the city flower of Suzhou). A fair range of imported bottled beers are also available like Brooklyn Lager, Dog Fish ale and Goose Island ale. Recently they have had an imported Brewdog (a Scottish craft beer company) ale on tap too.
The decor is simple but pleasant enough and there is an upstairs area. Seating for 30 or 40 people perhaps. The beers run at about 55-60RMB for a large glass. 798 also offers smaller glasses of 6 of its beers for 120RMB.
I liked the stout although I think stout is a tricky beer to brew to get the balance between maltiness and sweetness right. The Black Dragon of Iceland is a strong dark beer at 6.5%. I must confess though, the IPA here is one of the nicest beers I’ve had in a long time. The Sweet Scented Osmanthus is very good too. Quite aromatic like an elderflower beer and very drinkable. I like this bar as it’s a place for drinkers. Good beer without the crap. I think I might be getting somewhere in my quest for a decent pint in Suzhou? Watch this space!
798 精酿啤酒工坊餐厅bar is open from 4:30pm to midnight daily. It serves some very, very nice brews and has a simple menu of ribs, chicken, steak and fries although I haven’t tried the food yet. The staff are very friendly too. 798 is well work the journey just for the beers!
Location: Jìnhé 360 Degree Life Square, Rong’an Street, No. 18-A115
Taxi info: 798 精酿啤酒工坊餐厅、晋合360度生活广场，融安街18号A115, 苏州工业区园
Getting there: any bus that goes along Xinghu Jie and stops at the junction of Xinghu Jie (星湖街) and Xizhou Lu (四洲路) (No. 2 (express), 6, 100, 120, 156, 176, 1001 etc.). Walk west from the junction towards Howard Johnson’s (with its illuminated sign at the top) and the shopping center is near the corner of Xizhou Lu and Rong’an Jie (融安街). 798 faces west towards the Ferris Wheel. It’s about a 20-minute walk from Times Square metro station area too.
Telephone: 180 2124 5713