Friday Night Beers In The Hutong

Beer and bikes in the hutong courtyard
Beer and bikes in the hutong courtyard

It’s no secret that my favourite parts of Beijing are the hutong areas. The hutong are small alleyways, or lanes, made up of traditional low rise, courtyard homes. Whilst it’s true that large areas have been demolished, many of the remaining areas are now protected to preserve the traditional architecture and history. The hutong (I don’t think adding an s for a plural is correct, although people often do when speaking English. A kind of a reverse Chinglish, I guess!) are fascinating to me. You can walk down one lane (for example Wudaoying- one of my favourites for food and coffee stops) and see cute boutiques, cafes and delicious vegetarian restaurants.While the next one you stumble upon might still be purely residential and full of traditional Chinese life experience, such as getting a haircut on the street and watching old men playing Chinese checkers. Many hutong homes (apart from the modern, refurbished ones which you may be lucky enough to find if you fancy living there) are still without toilets. There are communal bathrooms on every street.

Justin and I often like to head to the hutong on a Friday or Saturday. Sometimes we will just head to an area and start wandering. Other times we will head to a specific restaurant to eat and then see what else we find by simply walking around afterwards. We like looking for the tiny “here today, gone tomorrow” kind of bars that seem to be opened in the front rooms of peoples homes. You can often find a nice outdoor veranda to sip a Tsingtao on and have the place all to yourself.

Hutong Washing
Hutong Washing

Last Friday we decided to head down to the original Great Leap brewery (a favourite pub in Beijing). There’s a larger location in Sanlitun but I prefer this one, tucked away  in Doujiao hutong. I love walking down sometimes eerily quiet, residential lanes and then coming upon the walled courtyard of the Great Leap. It feels miles away from the heaving, traffic congested roads of Beijing. I almost feel like I’m in a little village, it’s so peaceful. It was the perfect evening to sip fantastic craft beer (there are so many choices ) outside in the warm weather. I am really enjoying Beijing in the late (almost) Summer.

After we’d had enough craft beer and pizza, we headed back home via Nanluoguxiang- one of the more famous hutong. I tend to stay away from there as it’s so packed with tourists and souvenir shops and I don’t really enjoy it. It’s not calm and peaceful like many of the other hutong. Although I do admit there are a few nice looking places down there amongst the souvenir shops. We stopped for frozen yoghurt and it was delicious! I also half considered buying a puppy from a cardboard box but decided to settle with just oohing and aahing over it for a while. There seem to be an influx of street puppies for sale at the moment; it must be the summer air!

Another favourite hutong beer stop..


22 thoughts on “Friday Night Beers In The Hutong

  1. I am such a bad beer person… I down bud light or coors light because I had since I was young, but I hate the taste of anything else! Makes for some boring nights… or expensive nights when I’m buying liquor instead!

  2. Quieter areas like you describe in Hutong are right up my alley (haha). These are usually the parts of big cities I love. It’s nice to have the skyscrapers, food choices and activities that come along with a big city, but at the end of the day what I really enjoy is the quiet little nooks. Not sure I could live there, though, with the communal bathrooms and all… 🙂

    1. haha I know- I’d love to live in the hutong but the bathrooms..nope. I do actually have colleagues/friends who live in a really nice renovated hutong house which has a toilet and shower and everything! I think you have to be lucky to find those ones though.

  3. The Hutong sounds like an amazing area to walk around and just get lost! It’s awesome that there are options for getting craft beers there! And vegetarian restaurants too?! It sounds like my kind of place 🙂

  4. I love wandering around and seeing “the real asia” as i like to call it. where i used to live in seoul was so far out of the city and there were always old men playing some kind of board game in masses outside the subway station, probably like chinese checkers, and i LOVED it. it’s those things that take you out of the hustle bustle and really appreciate where you are. i hope to get to the hutong one of these days soon! it looks wonderful 🙂

    1. Thanks Danielle. I know, me too. Those are the kind of experiences and places I love in Asia! I hope you get to the hutong before you had off to Spain! 🙂

  5. Oh I can’t find any craft beer out here and I LOVE a good beer. I’m adjusting a Yangling though and am happy if I can find it cold. I’ve seen a lot more puppies for sale on the side of the street and have thus far resisted buying one but I don’t know how long that will last….

  6. The only downside to reading this, is that I really miss all the amazing varieties of beer. (Not that I’m complaining too much with 25p draft here, but you know…!).
    I met a guy who lived in Beijing for a while, I shall certainly be picking his brains on the hutong now!

Comments are closed.