Whether by conspiracy or by coincidence, three of the cheapest places in Shanghai for craft beer on tap are a five minute walk of each other.
In general, a draft beer in Shanghai costs about ¥30-40. A craft beer, which the city is swimming in, usually trends a little higher, from around ¥45-60 and up! But if you’re looking for sub-¥30 craft brews, it’s right here.
3 Places For Real Cheap Draft Beer in Shanghai
The first of this cheapo trio is 8 Pints. Dream Brewers, from the Anhui brewery of the same name and operators of this street-side craft beer dispensary, recently rebranded Jiuhuar (one of the first of its kind in Shanghai) into 8 Pints. The chain currently has six locations in Shanghai.
The smallest location on Fumin is standing room-only with crowds drinking beers on the street. The other two in Jing’an also serve food—bar snacks like chicken wings to whole steaks, and even funky jianbing with eel and nori at the Shaanxi Bei Lu location. Food at Yanping Lu seems even fancier with salads, ribs, and salmon. Check their WeChat Account (八品脱8PINTS) for monthly promotions: for February, the Shaanxi Bei Lu location is doing ¥18 Taco Tuesdays from 4pm-10pm, and ladies get their first drink free on Wednesdays from 4pm-10pm.
The cheapest beer on tap at Fumin Lu is the Osmanthus Wheat. It used to be ¥9.9, but has risen to a still-miniscule ¥13.9 for a 330ml glass. (Though it won’t be available for another month or two while they get stock in.)
The cheapest beer available at time of writing is the ¥19.9 Gallo Blanco Lager, a crisp, malty Mexican Lager. Even their well regarded Old Driver IPA, a collaboration with American Left Coast Brewing Co., only costs ¥24.9 for a glass. Most of the prices are between ¥25-35, save the incongruously priced ¥88 Boysenberry Sour IPA.
Fumin Lu: 271 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu 富民路271号, 近长乐路
Hours: Sun-Thu, 4pm-midnight, Fri-Sat, 4pm-1am
Shaanxi Bei Lu: 457-3 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu 陕西北路457-3号, 近北京西路
Hours: Daily, 11:30am-11:30pm
Yanping Lu: 135 Yanping Lu, near Wuding Lu 延平路135号, 近武定路
Hours: Daily, 3pm-midnight
Tianshan Lu: 189 Tianshan Lu, near Weining Lu 天山路189号, 近威宁路
Hours: Daily, 2pm-11:30pm
Plan B Brewery & Coffee
Then, there’s Plan B Brewery & Coffee, a small, independent company that contract brews in Hankou. They opened in the first half of 2020. On top of servicing the daytime coffee crowd, they pour a trio of their own brews and six others from the likes of Ming Ri and Stone. They also have bottled cocktails in the fridge.
Their cheapest beer is the PB Gold Lager at ¥19 per glass. It’s not bad, though a little thin, even for a lager. The ¥22 PB Munchener Weizen might be more to your liking, but if you’re looking for that robust, craft beer flavor, you’re going to end up paying around the ¥30-40 range for familiar favorites like the Ming Ri Hazy Dream IPA and Stone Tangerine Express IPA. Prices currently go up to ¥55 for newcomer Gose to Hollywood from Danish brewery To Øl.
The absolute lowest you can go is during the daily happy hour: from 4pm-midnight, three house brews are buy-one-get-one. Meaning, you can two PB Gold Lagers for ¥19. There’s also a four-tap deal: ¥119 for any four taps, or ¥99 for any four from the cheaper “white coin” taps. It’ll save you about ¥10 per glass if you only pick the ones over ¥40. That comes to ¥9.5 per glass, even cheaper than 8 Pints ever was.
Address: 77 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Changle Lu 襄阳北路77号, 近长乐路
Hours: Sun-Thu, 8:30am-midnight, Fri-Sat, 8:30am-1am
Five meters away from Plan B is Tap That. Part of a local chain, there are currently three venues of Tap That around Shanghai. The Ruijin Lu location has space to serve food, but the one on Xiangyang Bei Lu, which opened up after Plan B, barely has space for five people at the bar. You’ll find most customers lounging on the steps outside.
Beers here start at ¥25 for a Huangpu Jiang Lager, or the more familiar Beijing Jing A Worker.
Of the three places on this list, Tap That works the hardest to secure and highlight interesting tap take-overs; they just had Maryland’s Burley Oak Brewing Co. and Belgrade’s Dogma Brewery last October at all three of their stores. They still have Hohhot’s first licensed brewers Maha Nine on tap, with their sour, fruit-juiced, hazy Unregulated Sour New England IPA going for ¥48.
Their priciest brews are the Lehe Singularity Stout and the Cloudwater One Good Lot for ¥58 each, higher than the most expensive at either Plan B or 8Pints (not counting the latter’s Boysenberry IPA).
Head there before 9pm, though, and get 20% off on all draft beer.
Xiangyang Lu: 77 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Changle Lu 襄阳北路77号, 近长乐路
Hours: Daily, 4pm-1am
Yongjia Lu: 697-2 Yongjia Lu, near Hengshan Lu 永嘉路697-2号, 近衡山路
Hours: Daily, 12pm-11pm
Ruijin Er Lu: 24-6 Ruijin Er Lu, near Nanchang Lu 瑞金二路24-6号, 近南昌路
Hours: Daily, 2pm-1am
How can it be so cheap?
These three places have got their costs down to a point most other places in town can’t match; Tap House’s all-day ¥150 deal for four beers is great considering a beer is usually ¥60, but that still comes to ¥38.4 per glass. Whether or not you think the beers at Tap That, Plan B and 8 Pints are any good, a ¥20 lager in a city where ¥40 is the standard would—should?—raise some eyebrows. It’s a natural question when faced with something almost too cheap to be true. What did they do to get the price this low?
With beer, the ingredients aren’t the biggest cost—beer is mostly water, after all. Maybe Plan B, Tap That and 8 Pints have managed to get rock-bottom rents on prime real estate. Maybe they’re taking advantage of cheap labor, which could mean the taps maybe don’t get cleaned as often as they should. (Could explain your hangover.)
There are lots of ways to cut costs. Who knows why it’s so cheap. One likely answer is they’re using the very low prices for volume; after which, customers might be inspired to try some more sustainably priced options. It’s craft beer’s equivalent of click-bait marketing strategy. In which case, it worked. Cheers!