You can’t help but feel sorry for the male wait staff at this huge new German microbrewery in the design company-led 1929 Art Space building opposite the International Cruise Terminal in Hongkou district. The girls wear distinctly European but just-the-right-side-of-cheesy dresses, but the guys, in their three quarter-length trousers and hobbit-y waistcoats, look like they should be dishing out meals at Disneyland.
That’s the vibe you get in Drei Kronen 1308: a German theme experience so overt that you’ll half expect to be forced into a pair of lederhosen on arrival. There are a lot of dinky, Goldilocks-worthy wooden tables and chairs, relentless German-language Euro-pop on the stereo and, of course, plenty of enormous glasses of Deutsch drops.
The Drei Kronen 1308 Helles (48RMB/0.3 litre; 68RMB/0.5litre; 118RMB/1 litre), at 4.8 per cent ABV, is a subtle and smooth effort that, while enjoyable, lacks taste and strength when compared to beer from microbreweries such as The BREW in Pudong, or Dr Beer in Jingan. The Pilsner equivalent, priced the same, is a crispier affair.
TV screens are plentiful but subtly placed so as not to dominate and there’s live music on a small stage at weekends, making the venue a fun place to spend a few hours in. Service is incredibly friendly and swift, too. While the hearty German-style food such as the sausage selections (68-88RMB) are decent, the pizzas (88-108RMB) are stingy in size.
The 700-year-old Bavarian brewery clearly have their sights set on the China market (their Beijing branch, opened two years ago, was their first outside Germany), but for now, Drei Kronen 1308 isn’t tipping Shanghai on its head beer quality-wise, and is located in an area that’s hardly a bar hotspot. However, with great service and it being a German-themed venue that is more over-the-top than the popular Paulaner Brauhaus chain, it’s worth a trip for the fun-factor alone.