My recent visit to Hefei, China was for purposes other than touring breweries, but I still managed to visit one local brewpub. Many thanks to my hosts in Hefei for giving me the opportunity to meet the team at LazyLeisure Beer House (懒马舍
), something I would not have been able to do on my own.
|The drink menu and my flight (Bright, IPA, Dark, Wheat)|
My first experience with LazyLeisure Beer House (LBH) brews was two days before my brewery visit. I was at a party with my fellow traveling companions. Five of us from Columbus, Ohio, USA went to Hefei, China as part of a sister city marathon exchange. The night before the marathon, our host Echo invited us to meet with runners and English club members from the city. Echo's friend Francesca had learned that one of the party attendees (me) was a craft beer fan, and she brought two different LBH beers to the party. The evening included some party games, discussion of cultural differences and holidays in China and the US, and the making of homemade dumplings and moon cakes. And for me and a few others, tasting the LBH beer: Dark Beer and Wheat Beer. I learned that Francesca worked for a brewing equipment company with a business connection to the brewpub. I hoped I'd be able to visit before leaving town.
|Francesca and me at the party|
|The beer Francesca brought to the party; it was all I could do to sit patiently until it was time to taste them|
The next day, our group from Columbus ran the Hefei International Marathon or Half Marathon with our new Chinese friends Echo and Bernard. It was a great day, and the subject of another blog post, linked here
. The day after the marathon, my group of five split up to pursue individual activities in Hefei. Echo, Bernard and Francesca arranged for me to visit LBH.
Shortly before lunchtime, Bernard dropped me off at LazyLeisure Beer House, where I met Francesca. The brewpub wasn't open yet but Woody, the manager, was expecting us and made me feel very welcome.
|The outside of the brewpub|
|Having met up with Francesca, I was excited to go inside|
The interior of LazyLeizure is cozy and inviting. It's a place where you would want to stay for a while enjoying beer and good company.
|The copper tanks are quite attractive|
|There's a stage, so LBH can have live performances|
|You can see the fermentation tanks from the dining room|
I sat with Woody and Francesca for a while. Woody encouraged
me to try a sample of all four LBH beers. And in the spirit of a true cultural exchange, I shared with her photos of the various tasting flight boards I've come across at breweries in the US. I think it gave her ideas.
While I looked through the
beautiful menu, Francesca was excited to speak with me about the beer. She mentioned that it is still rare for Chinese women to take much of an interest in craft
beer. She was happy to have a compatriot. As I sampled my way through the beers, Woody broadcasted our
conversation live on a social media app of some sort. I was a bit of a star,
apparently. I learned several things in our conversation.
The LazyLeisure logo is a horse, which represents a worker.
He is lazy because he has already put in his workday and is now relaxing with a
good beer. Each beer is paired with a different version of the horse, which was seen in
the menu. The Chinese characters for the brewpub (懒马舍
) represent the words for lazy,
horse and house. Without knowing any Chinese writing, I could see that the
second character was a horse and the third character was a house.
|A tutorial on the brewing process|
|Mr. Ding at work canning beer|
The craft beer movement is still recent in China and LBH has
been open for almost two years. Master Han, the brewmaster, worked in larger,
commercial breweries since 1992, and has a lot of experience. The four LBH beer
recipes are his own. Master Han is assisted in the brewery by Mr. Ding.
After sampling all four beers, Francesca and I sat down to a
lunch of veggie pizza and a green vegetable (maybe Chinese broccoli?) in soy
sauce. Woody offered me a full glass of my favorite. I chose the Wheat, which
was smooth and refreshing and reminded me more of an American wheat
beer, versus a German or Belgian version.
|Veggie pizza and the Wheat beer|
|Tasty Chinese broccoli (I think)|
|The menu page for Wheat Beer, and the corresponding horse|
My second favorite was the Dark
Beer, which I liken to a brown ale, though LBH called it a stout. I also found the Bright Beer to be very drinkable,
and while LBH called it a lager, I’m not sure that it was; it seemed more like
a light ale of some sort. Finally, there was the IPA. The beer was good, but
didn’t meet my expectations for an English or an American IPA. It was light on
the hops (only 30-35 IBU), and I wondered if that is because the Chinese palate
is not accustomed to overly-bitter, hoppy beers. After all, most of the commercial
beers available in China are light lagers. I would drink the LBH IPA, but it
wouldn’t be my go-to if I wanted a traditional IPA.
|Menu page for Dark Beer|
|Menu page for Bright Beer|
|Menu page for IPA|
Patrons from traditional beer drinking countries will find
the beers at LazyLeisure Beer House to be a little different than what they are
used to. The beers are examples of Chinese-created craft beer, versus the many
American or European-owned craft breweries in larger Chinese cities. These beers are so much more enjoyable to drink than the mass-produced lagers you typically
find in China. I like seeing a small place like this do its own thing. Master
Han is creating beers that must be very different from what he brewed during
his many years in commercial breweries. It’s exciting to see this happening in
a second-tier city like Hefei (which is still a large metropolitan area of
nearly 8 million people).
|With the LazyLeisure team: Master Han, salesman, me, Francesca, Woody|
|My generous gift from LazyLeisure, which made it safely home to the US for sharing|
Before I left LBH, I was gifted with a case of four 1-liter
cans of beer: two each of Dark Beer and Bright Beer. I felt like a celebrity
and a very special guest, but I’ve come to learn that this is typical of
Chinese hospitality. I wish Master Han, Woody, Mr. Ding and the entire team at
LBH the best of success as they continue to evolve their business. If I ever find
myself back in Hefei, I’ll make a return visit for sure.
LazyLeisure Beer House is open daily from 11:00 AM to 1:00 AM. It is
family friendly and has a menu I’ll characterize as Chinese pub fare, with a
mix of pizzas and traditional Chinese dishes. I was unable to find a website. The WeChat ID is LLBEERH (WeChat is a popular Chinese social media app, and there is an English version).
This is so cool. Sister Cities, indeed. I hope that Francesca and the guys get to read this.ReplyDelete
I saved a PDF and sent to everyone in China (well, not EVERYONE in China). Some were able to access the blog link and some weren't, and in some cases it depended on whether they were using a computer or a smartphone.Delete