Chienkuo Beer Brewery (建國啤酒廠) was built in 1919 as the country’s first producer of the amber nectar and designated a city heritage landmark in 2000. Located at the junction of Bade Road (八德路) and Jianguo North Road (建國北路), the factory has now become a bustling historical site, visited by evening diners and drinkers who come for freshly brewed Taiwan beer and Taiwanese fare at its warehouse-turned-restaurant.
Beer cases stacked up on the roadside greet patrons as they walk in. Signs reading “346” point the way to the Taiwanese-style bistro at the end of the plant.
Outside, there are several seats. Inside, the interior’s spaciousness is accentuated by a high ceiling and sparse decoration, which lend the place an unpolished, casual charm. The neon-lit stage comes to life on weekends when live bands perform starting from 8pm.
On a recent Sunday night, the restaurant was relatively quiet, though a few tables of intoxicated diners defined the atmosphere with their echoing laughter and horseplay.
The menu offers a wide range of grilled, deep-fried and appetizing items commonly served at roadside seafood eateries. We ordered several of the bistro’s specialties that feature the country’s most celebrated brew: Taiwan beer shrimps (台啤醉仙蝦, NT$180); roast chicken with miso and red yeast rice (烤紅麴味噌雞腿肉, NT$250); and sausages with Taiwan beer and red yeast rice (台啤紅麴香腸, NT$150). All failed to live up to expectations. The chicken and sausages were passable, but the shrimp did not pair well with the beer’s bitter taste.
The only dish that won unanimous approval was the black-boned chicken and clam hot pot with beer (啤酒烏骨雞蛤蜊鍋, NT$850); its complement of fresh-tasting broth and abundant use of vegetables makes it a healthy choice.
However, the food was hardly the center of attention since, like others, we came for the freshly brewed Taiwan beer.
As the brewery resumed production in May after a year’s hiatus, bottles of beer that have been brewed on site are available the very same day they are made.
Bottles and half-liter glasses of beer cost between NT$70 and NT$90. For larger parties, the popular choice is to share a 3.8-liter barrel. The price is a friendly NT$600 each, but unlike the beer that comes in bottles and glasses, the barrels are not freshly brewed.
A couple of barrels into the evening, it was easy to forget about the mediocre food and join in the merriment of the surrounding tables.
Taiwan Beer 346 Warehouse Restaurant’s weekend band lineup can be found at www.nv.com.tw/346beer. For diners and drinkers who are keen to learn more about the brewery’s history, a guided tour can be arranged by calling (02) 2771-9131 X431.
Address: 85, Bade Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市八德路二段85號)
Telephone: (02) 2509-8346
Open: Daily from 5:30pm to 12am
Average meal: NT$600, including drinks
Details: Chinese menu; credit cards accepted
On the Net: www.nv.com.tw/346beer
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