Cheers In: the beer shop that's battling Shanghai's bars

Cheers In: the beer shop that's battling Shanghai's bars

Beer lovers pour into French-run shop in search of greater variety and cheaper prices

cheers in -- mainCheers In: No shortage of choice.
Part shop, part bar and all ale, Cheers In is a beer aficionado's dream.

In a tiny space on the increasingly Frenchified Yongkang Lu -- French bakeries and design shops have been steadily popping up over the past year -- Cheers In is Shanghai's only specialist beer boutique.

Cheers In sells more beers than most bars in Shanghai, sometimes for as little as one-third of the bar price.

cheers in -- main 1Cheers In's 31-year-old co-founder Cedric Bourlet grew up in Lille in northern France, where beer is akin to mother's milk.

A background in beer

Three of Cheers In's four partners are from Lille, in the north of France, where co-founder Cedric Bourlet says beer is so common, locals reckon it's akin to mother's milk.

While the others -- Alexandre Godvin, Gregoire Prouvost and Samuel Pierquin --  are away scouring Europe for new beers to stock, 31-year-old Bourlet minds the shop.

“We always drink beer and we wanted to set up a business and to share our passion with Chinese people, because we couldn't find any place [in Shanghai] specializing in beer," says Bourlet, who used to work for a bank in France.

Cheers In sells take-away beers to drink at home, and coldies straight out of the fridge for customers to sip as they sit outside or wander through the former French Concession

Though the store has only been open for a little over a month, Bourlet says they have already seen a pattern developing among the customers coming through the door.

I'm sure we have the least expensive prices in Shanghai. We have common beers that can be found in other places, but here it's not so expensive.— Cedric Bourlet, ex-banker and co-founder of Cheers In

Half the clientele are foreigners looking for their favorite beverage or a taste of beers they miss from their home country, while Chinese customers are more likely to be looking for a new experience.

“Chinese people tend to like German black beer, but I think they like it because it is what they know -- so we try to see what they like and help them discover other things,” Bourlet explains.

Easy on the hip pocket

The 10-square-meter shop stocks more than 150 different beers from some 25 countries –- whether they be beer-brewing powerhouses or nations that are less known for their love of lager. Some of the more unusual beers include Sagres (Portugal), Coedo (Japan), Birra Moretti (Italy) and Bia Saigon (Vietnam).

Prices range from RMB 5.5 for a Tsingtao Gold to RMB 95 for a wine-bottle-size Duchesse de Bourgogne, a traditionial Flemish red ale from Belgium.

More on CNNGo: Guide to the best, and worst, Chinese beers

“I'm sure we have the least expensive prices in Shanghai,” Bourlet adds. “We have common beers that can be found in other places, but here it's not so expensive, the Duvel is RMB 19, in the bars it's RMB 50.”

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cheers in -- main 2Cheers In stocks more than 150 different beer labels from some 25 countries.

An evolving story

Cheers In's acquisition of more brands is a constant process, and the customer gets a major say.

According to Bourlet, they have already started surveying customers on their Facebook page in order to determine Shanghai's most wanted beers, and when their website goes live around mid-July, beer fans will be able to nominate their favorites online.

If there is a place for approximately 100,000 wine shops in Shanghai, I think there is space for us.— Cedric Bourlet

If a particular beer gets enough votes, the Cheers In crew will do what they can to get their hands on the brew and bring it to Shanghai.

Brash, boozy ambitions

Another major bonus, once the website is online, will be the offer of free delivery within the former French Concession area.

Undaunted by the challenge of bringing a new kind of specialty store to Shanghai, Bourlet and his partners are sure that they have enough of a market to make Cheers In a rousing success.

The founders are looking for another space in Jing'an to open a second Cheers In, and are hoping to have a total of three stores around Shanghai by this December.

“We are the only specialty beer shop and there are 23 million people in this city,” Bourlet adds.

“If there is a place for approximately 100,000 wine shops in Shanghai, I think there is space for us.”

More on CNNGo: Your week-long guide to the best Shanghai happy hours

getting there

Cheers In

25 Yongkang Lu, near Jiashan Lu
永康路25号, 近嘉善路
tel: +86 21 6418 8400
9 a.m.-11 p.m.
cheers-in.com

Casey is a city/lifestyle journalist from Melbourne, Australia, who has been based in Shanghai since 2007.

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