I can not get a good burger in Inner Mongolia. I’m not even a burger-person. But after being out of America for so long, the heart wants what it wants: burgers, fries, and craft beer. I should have been born a frat boy.
During our most recent trip to Beijing, we were lucky enough to be given a city tour through the eyes of one of our placed teachers, Karina, where she introduced us to the best craft beer in China.
We spent the day building up our appetites by shopping at the Silk Market and practicing our Mandarin haggling skills. Guess who made out with some Ray Ban Clubmaster knock-offs for less than $10? I didn’t even have to bring out the water works this time.
Our journey to Slow Boat ended up being a long one. We took the wrong way through the hutongs, and asked about every passerbyer how to get there. Everyone just kept pointing down the road we were on, assuming we didn’t speak a lick of the language and signing “five”, which I’ll assume meant five minutes.
“Come in, my children. It’s time to get drunk.”
We arrived at around 3:00pm with the place nearly all to ourselves.
Its minimalistic layout, wooden benches, chalkboard menu, and subtle lighting make you feel as if you’re at mature house party. The size of the bar isn’t big, which is what I particularly enjoyed about it. You’re almost forced to eavesdrop on other conversations. If I had to describe Slow Boat in one word, I’d go with “communal”.
My boyfriend, a former vegetarian, immediately demanded another bleu cheese burger before he finished swallowing the last bite of his first one. I talked him out of it for the sake of getting drunk.
I dug into The Classic. Yum.
The Vanilla Stout has got me hung up. I walk into bars in Hohhot only hoping there’s something comparable. There isn’t. After eating a burger and perfectly seasoned and crispy fries, you’d think I couldn’t handle something so dark. It wasn’t a heavy drink, though. Smooth like butter. It was all I drank for the rest of the night — liquid velvet with a vanilla finish
I tried around five or six different beers and wasn’t ever left disappointed.
If I lived in Beijing this would be my go-to spot. A good beer, or lack of, can certainly effect one’s views on an entire country. The music alone is enough to bring me back. I mean, I was listening to Grimes in a taproom in China.
By 6:00pm the bar was filled with people from all over the world and we were all pleasantly forced to converse with one another. I woke up with photos of strangers on my phone followed by their Wechat ID’s.
Find Slow Boat’s website here for their taproom address and other restaurants and bars where you can find their high-quality brews.