Thursday, 18 August 2016

Beer Cafe Hopman


A couple of stops down the train line from Fujisawa is a place that I have been looking forward to trying for a long while. Hopman is the sister bar of Ushitora (but don’t let that put you off...) as the people who opened it used to work at the Shimokitazawa home of bad service and overpricing. Significantly though, everything that I don’t like about Ushitora is different at Hopman. The service and pricing were good and it was a place I’d love to try again soon. I will need to go back another time though and update this as when we visited they were celebrating their sixth birthday so I want to check how the place runs normally. Thought it best to put it on here now and update later as it deserves all the custom it can get.

- Fairly sizeable place. Plenty of seats and I guess normally a lot of counter seating (but this had been removed for the birthday do. At least this is what I imagine). Would say somewhere in the region of 40 seats at tables. Feels quite classy, padded seats, soft lighting, nice decor etc.
- 36 taps on for their birthday do! Good mix of Japanese craft and imports (US, Denmark) divided by style on the menu. Big mix of styles, generally speaking served in two sizes, glass (300ml) and pint (473ml). Big beers are served in 150ml and 300ml servings. Prices range from ¥700-¥900 for the smaller size and ¥1000-¥1350 for the larger.

This post is deliberately brief as I really need to revisit the place to get an idea of the normal operation. Will update when I do that, but it’s definitely a pretty exciting place and well worth the trip to Chigasaki.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Shiga Kogen
Daisen G
Outsider
Devil Craft
Shonan
Yo Ho
Sankt Gallen
Noboribetsu
Ise Kadoya
Y Market
Fujizakura Kogen
Baird

Opening Hours:
Daily, 15:00-01:00

Location/Map:
十間坂1-1-23, Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken



Telephone: 
0467-85-5688
 

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Grano


Today, another Fujisawa place. Grano is a pizzeria with a decent selection of craft beer just a few minutes from the station. I’d heard good things about their pizzas and was interested to check them out and of course, also the beers.

- Very much feels like a pizza restaurant (because that’s what it is, I guess). Seating at tables for 30 and a counter for six. Pizzas were very nice.
- 8 taps of craft beer. All imports when we visited but they did have a lot of Mikkeller on from the previous week’s tap takeover.
- Once again, beers served in four sizes (I guess they like extra large and extra small beers in Fujisawa!), tasting size (probably 150ml), glass (300ml), pint (500ml) and mass (1000ml). Prices are as follows, T - ¥300-¥400,  G - ¥850-¥1100, P - ¥1100-¥1350 and M - ¥2000-¥2300. So, a little bit on the expensive side, particularly the glass size. Definitely stick to the pints I guess, which are actually bigger than most places ‘pints’ (500ml rather than the standard US pint 473ml). If you haven’t noticed previously, 'pint' doesn’t really mean pint in Japan. More like 'standard large size'.
- Beers were a mix of Danish, US, Norwegian and Canadian imports. Some interesting stuff there.

A nice place. The pizzas were delicious and the beers were good. As I said above, some of the sizes are definitely better value than others, so we had a couple of pints and then had tasters for the others that we fancied trying. Would definitely go back here again too. A great combo with Mokichi.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 16:00-02:00
Saturday & Sunday, 12:00-02:00

Location/Map:
鵠沼花沢町2-4, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken



Telephone: 
0466-65-0122 
 

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Mokichi Craft Beer


I recently made the trip out of Tokyo to Shonan (football again) and once again took the chance to visit a few beer places that I have been meaning to put on here for ages. Firstly, it’s Mokichi Craft Beer, the beer restaurant of the Shonan brewery in Fujisawa. I went here once before, quite a while ago, and was surprised to hear when I visited that the place had only been open around four years. Guess we went there quite soon after it opened. Anyway, I’m going to split up these Shonan posts as I am going to add a lot of different tags on here soon and because of this, it makes more sense for places to have individual entries. Enough about blog admin issues and on with the stuff you might be interested in.

- Very nice looking place not far from the station. The usual combination of wood, stone and metal but this time done in a more original way giving it a nice atmosphere. Lots of seating split over two floors at various tables and a counter for six.
- 10 taps of Shonan beers, with over half of them seasonals. Beers served in four sizes from here forwards known by their initials, taster (150ml), small (270ml), large (420ml) and pitcher (1800ml). Regular beers are priced as follows: T - ¥345, S - ¥560, L - ¥795 and P - ¥3045. The seasonal are priced a little higher (and are mostly higher alcohol), T - ¥360-¥430, S - ¥600-¥720, L - ¥845-¥1030 and P - ¥3520-¥4340. Beer is served in their brewery branded glassware which is nice and a good shape for enjoying the beer to the full. Limited selection of bottles to take away too. Prices include tax and there is no cover charge (hooray!). There is a large food menu too, but I didn’t try anything. Next time.
- Open during the day but seems to close for an hour before they start the dinner session so be careful not to pin your hopes on drinking there between 15:00 and 16:00.

A very nice place that I have enjoyed a lot both times I’ve been there. This time was particularly nice as the Wezienbock was absolutely delicious! A highly recommend stop if you are in the area. Perfect combination of good beers, good prices and friendly staff.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Shonan

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 11:30-16:00 & 17:00-23:00
Saturdays & Holidays, 11:30-23:00
Sundays, 11:30-22:00

Location/Map:
南藤沢20-19, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken



Telephone: 
0466-90-3590 
 

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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Beer Brain


A few months ago a slightly bizarre video started appearing on Facebook posts showing a group of Exile like guys in dungarees drinking beer, playing some kind of percussion piece on handtools whilst constructing a shed on wheels somewhere in Yamanashi. It seems that they have finished it, driven it to Tokyo and parked it up a short walk from Gaienmae station. It’s a pretty unique experience, but it is essentially still summed up as a high end shed on wheels with four taps of craft beer.

- As I have said a few times already, a shed on wheels, but surprisingly fancy looking inside. Not much space, as you would expect, but maybe up to 10 could stand here if they were all quite friendly with each other.
- Mainly imports, and mainly US ones, but with some Japanese craft too (beer list on their Facebook and Twitter daily it seems). All beers served in two sizes and at the same prices, pint for ¥900 and half for ¥600. We are definitely talking US pint sizes rather than UK sizes. Unfortunately all beers are served in plastic cups which contrasts a little with the fancy interior but I guess it’s the only way things can work in such a small place. Maybe it’s ok to bring your own glass? No charge naturally and tax included.
- Some daytime opening but like many other places it closes midway through the afternoon. I arrived on time for the opening after the afternoon break but it didn’t open immediately, so if you have a strong objection to waiting around, I’d give them a bit of leeway and not turn up right on opening time. Also, apparently they intend to take the bar around to festival and events so I think if you’re planning to visit it’s a good idea to check their Facebook page and check whether they’ll be there or not.

So, it’s quite a fun place to pop in for a couple but maybe not somewhere you could spend too long in given the size. The prices are great, but the plastic cup is a bit of a let down for me, but I totally understand why they do it. It’s in a bit of a strange location, but I’m sure it would be a fun addition to a pub crawl.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Shiga Kogen
Swan Lake
Shonan

Opening Hours:
Daily, 12:00-15:00 & 16:00-21:00
Closed on ’major holidays’

Location/Map:
神宮前 2-2-20, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
080 3092 4862 
 

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Craft Beer Baby


 
Post by Mothy

There was a time I would go to Craft Beer Baby in Urawa 2-3 times a week. Then I had a kid and that number fell to once a week. Then, in December, they closed and it fell to once a month that I would walk past their shuttered shop and mournfully sigh. But in May they reopened, and there was much rejoicing in my home.
Before closing it had been around, I think, 4 or 5 years, so maybe some of you have been before. For those people, there are some differences now. First, and most inevitably, the atmosphere is different. The staff is completely new, and staff have such a big effect on atmosphere that in many ways it feels like a different bar. I should stress the new staff is good. Just as a former regular, it feels weird.
Second, it's now no-smoking. Before they had no-smoking on the second floor and smoking on the first. Now if you smoke, do it outside. There are some other minor changes, but I think for return customers, those are the things that will really stand out.
Now, for the Baby virgins (is that the best way to say that?), what are the details? It's located close to Urawa station in a rather old and somewhat disgusting shopping arcade. The inside of the bar is quite nice, and though small, only feels cramped on the busiest of days. The bar itself is on the 1st floor, which has counter seating for ten and table seating for four. The second floor has table seating for ten. So as you can see, it's not a big place. But for Saitama, it's big enough. The food is good, but not great, with some interesting menu items.
Now, the most important part, the beer. They have ten taps, but usually only have eight on. The beers are predominantly Japanese craft, with an occasional import or something upscale from one of the Japanese macrobreweries. The breweries represented are some of the better known and well respected breweries, so it's rare to find something you've never tried before, but it's also rare to get a real stinker that you instantly regret ordering.
Prices are no bargain, but seem close to standard. ¥1000-¥1200 for a US pint, about ¥300 less for the smaller size, which I believe is a half. Import beers, add a couple hundred yen to that. No table charge, but tax is added on after- which is another new thing since the reopen. The beer list is put up on their Facebook page every day, so if you're thinking of going, take a look.
All in all it's a nice place. One drawback is it's in Urawa, so there's a good chance you'll bump into Urawa Reds fans. But try not to make eye contact with them and you should be okay.

Japanese breweries on tap:
Coedo
Outsider
Ise Kadoya
Sankt Gallen
Baird

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Friday, 17:00-01:00
Saturday, 15:00-01:00
Sunday & holidays, 17:00-23:00
Closed Monday

Location/Map:
高砂 2-8-9 ナカギンザビル, Urawa-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken



Telephone: 

048-705-3000
 

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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hamamatsu round-up: Mein Schloss, Shinnosuke O and Tir Na n-Og

Another post about a city mainly centred around a football away day. Hopefully, I will be able to get back to dealing with some of my Tokyo backlog soon. But anyway, Hamamatsu seemed like a nice city and the three places mentioned are all within easy reach of the station (less than 10 minutes walk for all of them). No cover charges anywhere and a bit of daytime opening going on, which is always welcome!

Mein Schloss


Huge German themed brewery and restaurant serving, unsurprisingly, German style beers and pub food. It's easy to be snotty about these kind of places, but I found it quite fun.

- Massive. No way I could count chairs but it has to be at least a few hundred. Super fast service of beers and food. Food is reasonably priced and the portions are pretty generous.
- Five taps of their beer, four regulars (Helles, Weizen, Alt and Munchener) and one seasonal (when we visited Kölsch). Beer served in three sizes, 300ml, 500ml and 2l. Prices are ¥470, ¥760 and ¥2850 respectively.
- No cover charge and some daytime opening.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Hamamatsu

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 11:00-14:30, 17:00-23:00
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:00-23:00

Location/Map:
中央 3-8-1, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka-ken



Telephone:
053-452-1146


Links:
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Shinnosuke O.


Bookshop/bar combination located very close to both of the central Hamamastu stations. Nice atmosphere and friendly clientele and staff. We only had time for a couple of beers and to buy a couple of books but this was probably my favourite place in Hamamatsu.

- 2nd floor location, look for the sign outside. Fairly spacious but with seating only for 10 at the counter and 12 at tables. Books are scattered round the room on shelves so you can browse them whilst you are drinking.
- Seven taps, but one is Heineken. The other six are mainly Japanese craft but with one Belgian and one US import. Beers served in two (apparently flexible) sizes, regular 400-470ml and half 250-300ml but the pours seemed quite generous. Prices are ¥1080-¥1280 and ¥750-¥950 respectively. Tax is added at the end and they round up to the nearest ¥100, I guess because they don't want to mess around with small change.
- Food available. The pizza menu looked good but unfortunately we didn't have time. Next time!
- Occasionally closed, so best check their blog for their monthly days off. Daytime opening at the weekend.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Preston
Oh La Ho
Beer Hearn/Herun

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Friday, 17:00-23:00
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 13:00-23:00
closed Monday and some other days too. Check their blog for details.

Location/Map:
鍛治町1-43 2F, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka-ken



Telephone:
080-6960-9393
 

Links:
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Tir Na n-Og


An Irish bar in Japan that serves Baird beer. Not sure what the Irish part is, apart from the name actually. This is pretty much a Baird taproom with the occasional guest. Managed to quickly squeeze in one of their house beers (made by Baird naturally) as soon as they opened and still get to the match on time.

- Basement bar, so look for the sign on the street. Decor seems pretty standard Japanese craft beer bar rather than any Irish theme pub stuff. Counter for around eight and tables for 12. Nice looking place and the staff were friendly.
- 15 taps, 14 of which were Baird. 12 regulars, their house beer and one seasonal. The other tap was an imported US cider. Beers served in three sizes, pint (US, I guess, but didn't see it), half and taster. Prices for the majority of the beers were ¥850, ¥550 and ¥400 respectively. Suruga Bay was a little more expensive, ¥950, ¥850 (flutelet, which was a stemmed tall glass, probably about 300ml) and ¥450. The strong seasonal by Baird was ¥1000, ¥900 (flutelet) and ¥500 and the cider ¥1100, ¥1000 (flutelet) and ¥550.
- Food menu which we didn't get a chance to investigate.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Baird

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 18:00-23:30
Saturday & Sunday, 15:00-23:30
closed Tuesday and the third Monday of the month

Location/Map:
田町 329-8 B1, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka-ken



Telephone: 
053-450-6006
 

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Mikkeller Summer Pop-Up


Just a quick post today on the new Mikkeller pop-up in Daikanyama. You may notice that there are more photos and that they are of a higher standard than usual. That's because I forgot to take one and had to ask Hamilton to send me some. Thanks Hamilton!


- Another unique location, this time at the other end of Log Road from Spring Valley. The pop up is basically the outside area of Garden House Crafts, a cafe and bakery and has seating for probably around 20. Hopefully the weather will be good. It's open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (and holidays) but you once again get daytime opening and it starts early. Beware though, as it closes a little earlier than the previous places did. 
- Six taps of Mikkeller beer with similar prices to the old bar and the old pop up. The house beers and more regular stuff are ¥600 and ¥1000 (small and large being around 200ml and 400ml) and other stronger or sourer or barrel aged stuff is a bit more expensive (¥1000 and upwards and served in only the smaller size). Payment is done by token which you can buy in ¥200 denominations in the cafe itself. So get your tokens before going to the bar. Food is available from the cafe (naturally) so you can keep yourself fueled and in a drinking mood.
- Only around till the 11th September, so if you want to visit, don't hang around. One big plus is the fact that there is much less chance of the building being torn down before the end date than there was in the last place. That was a shame! Hopefully the end of this pop-up could be close to the opening of the new bar, the details of which are being worked on as we speak.


So there you have it. Something to tide you over till the new bar. As usual with Mikkeller bars the experience is a little different from other bars and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours getting destroyed by high strength beers. Next time I go I might explore the contrast between the Mikkeller beers and the Spring Valley stuff at the other end of Log Road. From what I've heard they will probably be significantly different! Sure I'll be back here quite a few times over the next couple of months.

Japanese breweries seen on tap here:
None

Opening Hours:
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 11:00-21:00
Last day September 11th

Location/map:
Garden House Crafts, 代官山町 13-1, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



Links:
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