From long-standing outlets such as Jolly and Le Ble D'Or to the more modern Beer Geek and Crafted Beer & Co, Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, has a wide and varied craft beer scene. Though some bars come and go, others last the distance, helped by the growing awareness of the benefits of quality beer in the country.
Taipei, Taiwan: The Best Pubs and Bars
Steve Rogerson looks at the growing craft beer scene in the Taiwan capital of Taipei
Bar at ZhangMen Brewing
Photo by Steve Rogerson
Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan and is in the north of the island. Known for its good public transport and shopping, it is the country’s tourist centre with temples and night markets being popular attractions.
The beer scene was dominated by the giant TTL (Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor) brewery headquartered in the city, but the country is attracting independent microbreweries and in recent years craft beer bars have popped up, and some disappeared just as fast. Apart from these, ex-pat style sports bars are popular.
Beer Geek, 8 Yongii Road, Xinyl District
This cosy micropub has half a dozen stools at the bar and a few chairs around tables. A pinball machine provides entertainment. There are five craft beers on draught, with a mix from Taiwan and abroad, and an impressive bottled range. It is run by Mark from England who has created an English pub atmosphere.
Crafted Beer & Co, 1 Yumen Street, Zhongshan District
In the food court of what was the Taipei Expo grounds, this micropub has four beers on draught and a large range of bottled beers, a mix of local craft beers and a wide international section. People crowd round a small number of tables inside or sit outside people watching. While there, pop down to the music stage and try the Three Lions, a British-themed pub with imported bottled beers from the UK.
Jolly, 29 Chingcheng Street, Songshan District
This is not the easiest bar to find as the street name seems to have different English spellings, including Qingcheng Street. It is the road that runs diagonally north east from the Nanjing Fuxing metro station. It is nearly opposite Hooters, which is well known by taxi drivers.
There are five regular beers which it brews itself on sale plus a seasonal beer. Out of the five regulars, the light-coloured 5% Pilsner is lovely and bitter, really fresh. The Pale Ale, also 5%, is slightly darker than the Pilsner with a deeper muskier taste, but still bitter. The 4.6% Weizen is a sweet wheat beer that is light coloured. The 7.2% Scotch Ale is a stronger version of the Pale Ale, with a similar taste but brought out more because of the extra alcohol. The last of the regulars is the 6% Stout, a dark bitter beer with a slightly burnt flavour and a hint of a caramel aftertaste.
Specials include the 6.8% Belgian Abbey Ale with lots of different flavours trying to attract your attention. It is a dark red colour, sweet and bitter at the same time, and fruity. The Vienna Lager at 5.5% is light and cloudy with a bitter base and a sour aftertaste. The Belgian IPA at 6.5% is rich and musky, and not over-hopped as with some IPAs.
The bar sells sample trays, so if you only have one visit you can still try all the beers.
For those in need of German beer, one floor up in the Urban One shopping centre on the same street is a Paulaner outlet.
Brass Monkey, 166 Fuxing Road
Within walking distance of Jolly is Brass Monkey, a bar popular with the ex-pats. This a beer hall and sports bar with a pool table.
One of the beer engines contains nothing special with the likes of Stella Artois, Carlsberg, Guinness, Hoegarden and a local TTL beer on tap. However, it redeems itself with the other beer engine containing craft beer from the local Taihu and Redpoint breweries as well as some imported from the USA. Bottled beers include Chimay and Duvel from Belgium and Anchor Steam from the USA.
Be careful on Tuesdays as it is salsa night.
ZhangMen Brewing Company, Songshou Square
The tap of this brewery is on the top floor of the H&M building. They produce a range of beers based on international styles, all from a recipe book. They normally have 18 beers on draught at any one time. Customers either sit on stools at the bar or outside on the roof park; this is incredibly impressive, go look! Food is also available. To get there, press the Skyline Park button on the lift inside the store.
Gordon Biersch, Mall A11, Songshou Road
Almost opposite ZhangMen is this outlet of the US beer and restaurant chain Gordon Biersch. The bar is one floor up on the mall and had six beers available, all brewed in Taipei.
The seasonal beer brewed to mark the German Oktoberfest is 5.7% and called Festbier, and is light and hoppy, very refreshing. The Schwarzbier at 4.3% is a dark beer with a roasted bitter flavour. The Golden Export at 5% is a pilsner, with a light taste and not as bitter as the Festbier. The cloudy Hefeweizen at 5.5% is a very sweet and full-bodied wheat beer. At 5.6% is the Czech Lager, very bitter, very hoppy, light coloured with a dry aftertaste. Finally, the Marzen at 5.7% is a red beer that tastes more sweet than bitter.
Chuoyinshi Landmark, 68, Sec 5, Zhongxiao Road, Xinyl District
This is a Taihu brewery tap, an outdoor bar cut into the side of the Cathay Landmark building. It serves a selection of its own beers plus various guest beers. You can stand at the bar or around tables on the pavement; there are no chairs.
Le Ble D’Or, Esilite Xinyl Store, 11 Songkao Road
As it is in the basement of the Esilite shopping mall, this large bar and restaurant has not much ambience, despite sometimes hosting live music. It is, however, worth visiting as one of the eleven outlets in the country for the Le Ble D’Or microbrewery; its expansion now means there are also two overseas outlets.
There are four beers, three of which are at 5% – the Amber is a sweet and malty red lager, the Hefe-Weisbier is sharp and sweet and the Dunkel is a dark beer with a roasted bitter hops taste. Slightly weaker at 4.5% is the Honey Lager, a light cloudy beer, ridiculously sweet and a little sickly.
TTL, junction of Songjiang Road and Xinsheng North Road
At the front of TTL’s Taipei headquarters is a small shop and bar, with most of the seating outside. Here you can sample a range of brewery’s fare, some on draft, most in cans. The outdoor seating area is quite chilled and a good place to spend a couple of hours.
Drinking Beer in Taipei
Jolly or Le Ble D’Or used to be the favourites for beer lovers but now the explosion of the craft beer scene has brought far more variety. But with bars coming and going fast, it can be difficult to keep track of what is where.