Dongli Brewery in Beijing invites us to get up close and personal with the brewing process in a restaurant and bar best described as industrial chic. Rik Glauert writes.
Photography: Youtao Cao
Eight giant shiny copper brewing kettles greet guests as they enter Dongli Brewery in Beijing. Designed by Latitude, the distillery, bar, and restaurant is dominated by metal, concrete, wood, and glass.
An important part of the brief passed to Manuel Zornoza of Latitude by the brewery was a desire to inform their guests of the company’s traditional craft beer fermentation techniques.
For Zornoza “the most challenging part of this project was to understand, technically, how the brewery works, the connections between the kettles and bar.” Craft brewing techniques inspire the 350-square-metre space that includes a main dining area, one VIP room, kitchen, restroom and storage.
The space takes guests through the distillation process as copper tubing from these iconic kettles and the distillery behind lead to one of the venue’s greatest features – a four-sided central bar counter that can be approached from all sides.
Copper has informed much of Zornoza’s design for the brewery. Joints, lamps, handrails and other elements are all fitted with the shiny metal. The brash shininess of the copper fittings stands out against walls and floors in different shades of concrete.
These industrial textures of metal and concrete are complemented by the use of wood. The tables and chairs and the central bar island are all fitted in light and dark unfinished timber.
Zornoza has also been creative with the lighting; glass is the final key element to the space. Large bubble-like glass orbs hang from copper tubing and emit a rich orange glow.
For Zornoza this pairing of the four elements of concrete, glass, wood and copper is essential to the bar’s overall tone. “I think this combination creates a comfortable family atmosphere, offering nostalgia, a real spirit of craft beer,” he says.
Other interesting and intriguing design features create a funky yet relaxed gathering space, encouraging guests to linger. For example, one of the walls is lined with illuminated vintage glass beer bottles.
Zornoza believes this is key to balancing the industrial brewery feel and giving the space a warm and welcoming vibe. “I wanted to not just present the traditional fermentation technology but also to meet the needs of a contemporary and cosy gathering place,” he says.