Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Beerttoria Miagolare


Today the first of three Chitosekarasuyama places. We're starting with the trickily named Beerttoria Miagolare and will follow up with Novel Craft and Ann's. Seems like there is good potential for a pub crawl here! I have friends who visit these places quite often so I thought it was time I got my finger out and went and put them on here.

- Beerttoria is a cat themed Italian-food-serving craft beer restaurant. It's a pretty bright place with cat decorations wherever you look. There is a counter for six and three other tables for four people. When I visited, there were what seemed like three regulars at the counter chatting away to the staff (who were very friendly). One of them was eating a pizza. I wish I'd had a pizza... Just going here for drinks is totally fine for them too though, which is nice! All in all, it felt like a really nice and comfortable place and I'm pretty sure I'll go back.
-  They had eight taps, but were serving only six beers when I was there. The beers were mostly imports and mostly from the US. They did have one tap of Kyoto on though, which was nice. Also they had a nice French cider too. All are served in three sizes, S (260ml), Glass (380ml) and Pint (470ml). Prices ranged from ¥700-1000, ¥900-1200 and ¥1050-1400. So maybe a little more than some other places but not as much as many of the places I've visited recently. They also have a fridge with some bottles and cans which started from ¥850. Tasting set available too. Three 120ml servings for ¥1000 which is alright by me. Beers were served in nice stemmed glassware.
- Pleasingly non-smoking. Also, there was no cover charge and tax was included so no unpleasant surprises at the end.

One thing I like as much as I like beer is pizza, so I think I'll definitely be going back here. Perhaps the beer selection wasn't exactly what I would be looking for, but there was a nice range of styles available. Also they list their beers on their facebook page and on their twitter, so you can always wait until you see something you want to drink and then visit. The place had a really nice feel to it, like a locals place but in a friendly and welcoming way, rather than a 'what are you doing here?' way. They open at lunch but close mid afternoon, so I'm guessing they expect to serve more food than beer at that time. My favourite in this area. So far...

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Kyoto

Opening Hours:
Daily, 10:00-14:00 & 17:00-01:30

Location/Map:
南烏山 6-5-7, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6886-1053 
 

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Spicarbo


I have never really had any reason to go to Komae city, just before the Odakyu line crosses the Tama river until now. In an attempt to get some of this horrific backlog done, I decided to pay a quick visit to Spicarbo last week. If you're a fan of walking, this could be part of a Chofu area pub crawl with Twelve (post coming soon, when I've gone there...) and Chofu Beer Works. Here's what you need to know about Spicarbo.

- Nice looking place with a counter seating around 10 and a few tables for four at the back. It describes itself as a bar and grill and the kitchen is pretty big and open, so I'm guessing the food is an important part of its appeal. The front of the bar was open as it wasn't very cold on the day I visited and given that there are some ashtrays out front, I'm guessing that this is where the smokers go. I visited quite soon after opening, so I can't be sure, but I imagine that it's a locals place with a slightly sophisticated vibe.
- Eight taps of craft beer, about three quarters Japanese with a few imports. There wasn't a great deal of difference in the pricing between any of the beers. The sizes are half (300ml...) and pint (473ml). The prices ranged from ¥860-900 for the small and ¥1320-1400 for the large. So, you're not being particularly punished for drinking imports, but you are paying a fair bit more than you would in many other Tokyo places, particularly for Japanese craft beer. But, there's no cover charge and no tax added on at the end, so what you see on the menu is what you pay.

This was a nice place to have a drink and the fact that there's no cover charge is a bonus. But I think the prices would put me off coming here often. It fills in another area of the Tokyo Beer Drinker map which is nice and I can see that it must be a big plus if you live in the area. Their beer selection was quite interesting, (you don't see Songbird around too often), but I'm not sure I feel comfortable paying almost the same for a beer from Johana or Fukushima and a US import.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Shiga Kogen
Songbird
Johana
Shonan
Fukushima

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-24:00
Saturday & Sunday, 12:30-24:00

Location/Map:
中和泉 1-2-10, Komae-shi, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-5497-1677
 

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Monday, 20 February 2017

Chofu Beer Works


Today a brief post on a brewery that has been open for a couple of years, but I've only just got round to visiting. There are a few places in this area and I was intending to visit them all in one go but was never getting round to it so am instead ticking them off one by one. First, Chofu Beer Works.

- Small place. Just a little L-shaped bar with room for about six or seven people to stand. No seats. There is a window through which you can see the brewery, which is also pretty small. Think they had some nuts and olives available if you're peckish. I think it was the brewer who was serving the beers and he was a very nice guy and keen to talk. No smoking too.
- Three taps of their own beer. When I was there they had a pale ale, an Japanese Hoji tea IPA and a vanilla chocolate stout. Beers are served in three sizes, 280ml, 340ml and 430ml priced at ¥600, ¥700 and ¥800 respectively. There's no cover charge and tax is included. You pay for your beers as you go.

I have to say, I quite enjoyed this place. It had a nice feel to it and perhaps due to the size, it seems everyone ends up chatting with each other. Not sure how often I'll be going there as it's a bit out of the way, but I'll try to pop in when I go back to visit Twelve, which on the other side of Kokuryo station. Beware of the limited opening hours. They only open three days a week and they probably aren't the ones you'd expect.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
St. Robinson (Chofu Beer Works)

Opening Hours:
Tuesday, Thursday & Friday, 17:00-24:00
Closed all other days and holidays

Location/Map:
国領町 2-15-8, Chofu-shi, Tokyo



Telephone: 
042-430-1088 
 

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beer Pub 25


Today a pretty small place out in Mitaka. I think the only other time I've been to Mitaka was to go to Drunk Bat. Beer Pub 25 is another decent place in a neighbourhood that I'm not particularly familiar with, but which you could easily combine with Kichijoji if you were in a pub crawl kind of mood. Here are the details.

- Limited capacity but doesn't feel in any way cramped. Seating for four at the counter and tables for maybe another ten. In the daytime it's light and airy and there are some interesting stained glass style window pictures. I particularly liked the one in the toilet, mostly for the choice of image and the significance I gave it. The master was friendly and it seems like it would be a nice place to be a regular of if you lived in the area. There is some kind of meat leg (spoken with the authority and knowledge of a long term vegetarian...) on the counter and he seems to give small servings of this away free of charge to drinking customers. There is a small food menu available too. 
- 13 taps of craft beer, split roughly 50/50 between Japanese craft and imports (mainly US when I was there). Beer is served in three sizes, in UK measures, half (284ml), 3/4 pint (426ml) and pint (568ml). The Japanese stuff was priced from ¥500-780, ¥750-1150 and ¥980-1500 respectively, so about average, but maybe a touch higher than usual. The imports were quite a bit more expensive with prices going up to ¥1180, ¥1680 and ¥2030 from small to large. The beer selection was good though, with some interesting stuff in both the domestic and import sections. There is no cover charge and tax is included in the prices mentioned above.
- Some other points of note. It's no smoking, which for me is always welcome. Also, it's very close to the train tracks so don't be shocked at the light shaking of the building when trains pass. I initially thought it was an earthquake, but earthquakes thankfully aren't as regular as Chuo line trains are, so I soon worked out my mistake.

All in all, I think it's a nice place and if I'm in the area I would go back again. As I normally stick to domestic stuff, the prices weren't quite so significant for me but I guess it could get expensive if you go there to drink only imports. But you do get the free meat, so if you can eat that, it balances things out a little. I guess pricing is always a difficult decision for small bars. Some go with the otoshi, some with the tax added at the end and 25 goes with slightly higher prices but them being softened by some free meat. It's definitely the case that some places go for all of the above combined (well maybe without the free meat...). The triple whammy of a cover charge, tax added at the end to your bill and to your cover charge (!?) and high prices is an always unpleasant experience. And I can't really get annoyed when a bar does it the 25 way. It's certainly a lot less sneaky than any hidden charges. Here the prices are clearly displayed on the menu so you know them before you order.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Minoh
Y Market
Ushi Tora
Coedo
Baeren
Ise Kadoya

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 18:00-03:00
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays, 15:00-03:00

Location/Map:

中町1-25-10, 2F, Musashino-shi, Tokyo



Telephone:  
0422-90-2418
 

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Kazenori Merry


Today, we're in Shimo Kitazawa again and this time it's for a place that might be familiar to people who have been drinking in the area before. Kazenori Merry is located in what used to be the old Ushi Tora 1, a couple of doors along from Ushi Tora 2 (the standing bar). It's run by ex-staff members of Ushi Tora and not a great deal has changed, so you could be forgiven for not really noticing. I'm sure they'll pick up a few customers who are checking old webpages and think they are going to Ushi Tora. Here are the details.

- Like I said, if you ever went to the old Ushi Tora 1 you'll know the layout of this place. (You can check here for the post on the old place). A long counter for around ten and seating at tables for around 20. Pretty comfortable feel, (maybe they have spruced it up a little) and the staff were very friendly. It's no smoking too.
- They have 15 taps of craft beer with it being split maybe 2/3 Japanese and 1/3 imports (all US when I was there). Beer is generally served in two sizes, 270ml and 470ml, but some stronger, sourer or rarer beers are served in smaller sizes. Prices for the Japanese stuff are ¥880 for the small and ¥1180-1380 for the large. Imports are ¥980 for the small and around ¥100 more expensive than the higher end of the Japanese stuff for the large. So, you can see that in their pricing they have another link to the Ushi Tora bars! It's not the cheapest place, but then again, I guess Ushi Tora wouldn't be too happy if some of their friends moved in to their old location a couple of doors away from their standing bar and undercut their prices. But yeah, a bit expensive. They also have a selection of sake too if you tire of beer.

Realistically, it's not that different from the old Ushi Tora place. But it was a nice place to have a drink and the staff kindly suggested that I have a large size instead of a small as there wasn't much difference in the price, which I thought was good of them. The beer selection is pretty good too. Not sure how often I will go here as the pricing puts me off, but it's good to have another option in Shimokita. Think there is still a huge gap in the market in this area though for someone like Craft Beer Market to come in with their budget beers and large tap selection. But this place probably has a atmosphere that people will enjoy more than a CBM though.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Oni Densetsu
Kyoto
Minoh
Shiga Kogen
Ushi Tora
Sankt Gallen
Yo-Ho
Ise Kadoya

Opening Hours:
Wednesday-Monday
, 15:00-24:00
Closed Tuesday and once a month on Monday (Are you feeling lucky...?)

Location/Map:

北沢 2-9-3, 2F, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:  
03-6407-1507
 

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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Va Bene Shimokitazawa (& Kichijoji)


[Pretty much as soon as I decided to split all the posts that I had previously grouped by area, I've now decided to group two places together. The reason for this is that I don't think the Va Bene in Kichijoji is worthy of mentioning in its own right, but thought I'd add the info for you in case you're in the area. There is a very brief mention of the Kichijoji branch at the bottom of this post.]

Today a quick post about a relatively new addition to the Shimo Kitazawa beer scene. Well, maybe more to the restaurant scene, but as this blog is about beer, we'll approach it from that angle. Va Bene is an Italian Restaurant with craft beer. In that way it is reminiscent of places like Gar Eden and Barchetta, but there are a few differences. Here is what you need to know.

- Pretty small place. Downstairs has room for a small counter for three and a couple of tables for two. There is more seating upstairs but I didn't see up there. Apparently there is seating for 20 though. Was quite nice to sit at the counter and the staff were keen to chat and were very friendly. No smoking place and has free wifi.
- Predominately an Italian restaurant. I guess the clue is in the name. However, there is no cover charge and it's fine to pop in for just a beer. The food was quite meat heavy, but even a long term vegetarian like myself got a bit peckish watching them prepare the food, so I had some pickles (from the bar snacks section of the menu). At the weekend it's open for beer only from 14:00-17:00 between lunch and dinner, so don't go expecting food at that time.
- Seven taps of craft beer, admittedly veering towards the less exciting end of the spectrum. When I was there they had six taps of Japanese craft and a New Zealand cider I had never come across before. However, they are a Kyoto Brewing permanent tap line place, so they will always have Kyoto on and could get some of their rarer brews. Beers are served in two sizes and they are a bit smaller than in other places, 150ml and 350ml. The smaller size costs from ¥300-400 and the larger one ¥650-850. Tax is added on at the end though, so be prepared for that. All in all though, the prices are pretty reasonable and it's nice that they don't seem to really penalise you financially for choosing the smaller size.

So, that's about it. It's a Shimokita place that is much more reasonably priced than the Ushi Tora bars. They also offer the opportunity to drink during the daytime (at the weekend), which is always a big plus for me. Given the selection, it's probably not somewhere you would stay for a huge session, but it's a great place to pop in to for a quick beer before or after some other Shimokita activities. And it's really close to the north exit of the station too.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Tazawako
Izu No Kuni
Gotemba Kogen
Kyoto
Hansharo
Rokko

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 17:00-23:30
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:30-23:30 (drinks only, 14:00-17:00)

Location/Map:
北沢 2-24-13, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:  
03-5465-2131 
 

Links:
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Va Bene Kichijoji


A brief mention to say that they have a branch in Kichijoji too, but it's not as beery as the Shimo Kita one. They only have five taps of craft and are missing that crucial Kyoto permanent tap that pushed the Shimo Kita branch over the finish line. There is a counter for seven and seating for around 20. Beer sizes and prices were a little different. They serve beers in 370ml glasses for ¥790 or you can have two 100ml glasses for ¥490 (nice option I think!). Tax is added at the end as with the other branch. They have a nice daytime opening thing at the weekend and on holidays and it's situated pretty much next to Inokashira Park. Don't think this branch has wifi though.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Tazawako
KinshachiHansharo
Minami Shinshu

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 17:00-23:30
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:30-23:30

Location/Map:
吉祥寺南町 1-17-9, Musashino, Tokyo



Telephone:
0422-26-7235
 

Links:
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Ushi Tora (new location)


Ushi Tora has moved. The old standing bar is still there (check here for a post on that place), but their main bar has now crossed the tracks to the area north of where the Odakyu and Inokashira lines meet. I have a bit of a troubled relationship with Ushi Tora. I've had some bad experiences in the standing bar and can't imagine I will ever feel the need to go back there. But I have to admit the service in this place was fine. Nice, friendly staff and none of the bad stuff that I had at the standing location. I do still have a major reservation about recommending their bars as I'm sure will become apparent further along in this post, but they are popular places and plenty of people seem to not have the same issues that I do, so here it is. 

The new bar has a nice feel about it. Comfy seats, well lit but not too bright. They've gone for the bare concrete here (as opposed to the other Tokyo craft beer bar staple decoration, lots of wood). There's a long counter for probably around 15 people and tables for maybe 30 more. Sorry, I didn't count the seats properly as I imagined I could get the information from tabelog, but it looks like they might not have updated that listing from the previous place yet. They serve a nice range of pub food if you're hungry. The place is no smoking and they have wifi.

There are 22 taps available, two of which were handpumps. The beer line up is dominated by their own stuff. Eight of the taps were their beer and these were generally served in two sizes 260ml and 470ml priced at ¥600-650 and ¥950-1100 respectively. Their stronger beer was priced in these same brackets, but available in 150ml and 300ml servings. There were a similar number of Japanese guests available in similar sizes but priced from ¥730-880 for the small and ¥1150-1400 for the large. Much much more expensive than most other bars. The taplist was rounded off with imports and these were even more expensive (¥830-930 and ¥1400-1500). I don't really understand why people are happy to pay these prices, but each to their own I guess. Their beer list is posted daily on their blog, so you can easily check what they have on before you go. 

So, pretty obvious what my gripe is. I just don't like feeling like I'm getting ripped off. But to be fair, their prices and serving sizes are clearly listed and there are no any extra hidden charges unlike in some bars. To look at the positives, the whole experience was much better than previous experiences I have had in the other bar and the old place. The service was good and if you can look beyond the prices, the selection of beers is decent enough (although not sure there's anything that you can't get anywhere else). Later in the evening though, there were a few things running out and nothing new coming on, but I guess this would be different at the weekend. I think they used to stay open really late in the old place, but this one has much more normal opening times. Although, they do have the magical afternoon/daytime opening! Not somewhere I think I'll be going particularly often, but it will definitely work for some.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Ushi Tora
Devil Craft
Yo Ho
Iwatekura
Coedo
Kyoto
Minoh
Minamishinshu

Opening Hours:
Daily, 15:00-23:30


Location/Map:

代田 6-3-27, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:  
03-3485-9090 
 

Links:
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