As soon as I arrived in Shanghai ten days ago on a short trip (about which more some time soon), I went directly to the establishment I had heard most about but not seen for myself. No, no, not the Shanghai World Expo -- I went there the next day. I am talking about the famed Boxing Cat Brewery, on Fuxing Lu in the French Concession area.
When I was living in the city in 2006 and 2007, I spent many
afternoons evenings in an ambitious but obviously economically-doomed microbrewery called Henry's, in a grim location on Sichuan Lu off the Bund. There I usually talked with the brewmaster, the roistering Texan Gary Heyne, who had come to the city around the time my wife and I did. That's him at the left, in an altogether typical pose, minus only the Hawaiian shirt he often favored. The photo is from UrbanAnatomy.com.
We started talking beer -- Gary was the hired brewer, for the Chinese-American owner of Henry's who didn't like beer himself but thought there was a market niche for non-watery beer in China. There is, and probably was even then: his business plan just had too many quirks and obstacles. Soon we mainly talked Texas, politics, writing, China etc. Gary had recently come from several years designing water-treatment systems with the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. (Insert obligatory "brewmaster designing water systems" jokes here.) He had a million beer-fueled theories about the war, and about Iraq, and about any other topic that might come up. One of my happiest memories of the city and of him is of serving together on a battle-of-the-beers tasting panel organized by our mutual friend Jarrett Wrisley, then of SH magazine in Shanghai and now of the Atlantic in Bangkok.