Thursday, 1 December 2016

New tags - an explanation

I am pleased to say that I have almost completed the overhaul of the tags on here. The intention is to make the information people want about places much easier to access. As a result, I've removed the tags of breweries available at each place as I think it turned out to be kind of pointless anyway given how quickly taplists turn over. The listing of breweries on tap will remain in the post but the tags are gone.
Here's a list of the new tags and a quick explanation of their meaning, which I hope is fairly self explanatory, but just in case it isn't, here you are.

10+ Taps - Ten or more taps of craft beer available
20+ Taps - Twenty or more taps of craft beer available (both of these are judged on what they actually serve rather than their potential capacity. Plenty of places have loads of empty taps it seems)
Belgian - Belgian beer available (and I'm not talking about just one tap of Hoegaarden...)
US - US Craft beer available
No Smoking/Smoking - added if a place is completely non-smoking or known as being smoky. With some places this is a little bit of a grey area. They have a smoking cupboard or whatever they call it. If it's borderline, I have left both tags off. Thebars marked with these tags will show you a strong tendency for either smokiness or no smokiness.
Patio - outdoor seating area that is more than a couple of kegs to sit on or a place to stand if there's no seats inside
Favourite - a favourite place of mine, 100% my own opinion, but you can take this as my recommendation of somewhere good to go. There are plenty of great places on here that aren't tagged with this that are still worth a visit, but these are the standout ones... in my opinion.
Reservation - reserving a table is recommended, you might be lucky just turning up,  but if you really want to go here, you should try to give them a call first as they tend to be busy.
English Menu - a beer menu that is in English, or at least the beer names are
WiFi - WiFi available. This tag is one that I really don't know about for many places. Please let me know if you know the availability of WiFi at any places I haven't tagged. I don't really use it so don't notice, but I know this is important for lots of people so any information you have would be much appreciated.
Budget - cheap beer (beware though that this often comes with a service/cover charge and or tax added on at the end). Check the write up for any hidden charges. Cheap doesn't always mean good I guess, but it does at least mean cheap.
Happy hour - a happy hour with discounted beers or during which something is given away with the beer. In Japan, this often lasts longer than an hour.
Bottles - a decent bottle selection that is a worthy selling point of the bar
Imports - imported beers which could fall in to the categories of Belgian or US but might just as likely be from elsewhere
Flight - a beer flight or tasting set available (sometimes only at selected times or on selected days)

I've still got to add for these for some posts. In the interest of accurate tagging, I have decided to split up all the posts where I have combined places by region. This will be a bit of a pain but I think it will make things more accurate in the long run. I'll do this gradually as I have time and will try to keep posts on the same area together, if I can. Guess I'd better get on with it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Nihonbashi Brewery

A quick post on another new 'brewery' in Tokyo. Like many of the breweries that have recently opened (Goto Jozo, Pacific NW (post to follow when I actually manage to go there), and the over four years open Watering Hole who seem to be concentrating more on prising money away from people than starting brewing), they are not yet brewing. There is a window through to the brewery and there at least seems to be some equipment in there, but I would imagine they are still a little way away. Location at the weekend seemed very quiet but it's early days and I imagine it's a bit different during the week. Anyway, here's what you need to know.

- Fancy looking location, pretty big with a counter for about 15, couple of big communal tables and a few more tables for four. Well lit and with lots of wood. Seems like a beer and dining kind of concept, as many places are.
- 13 taps, split about 2/3 to 1/3 between Japanese beers and US imports. The Japanese stuff is not exactly the most exciting or original of selections (Baird, Hitachino Nest and Ushitora). One tap is reserved for their house beer which is 'brewing now' but I think that might be being a bit optimistic unless it's being brewed somewhere else. Apparently the recipe has been created by someone from the HUB brewery in Portland. Not sure what the connection is.
- Beers served in three sizes, S (maybe 200-250ml), M (wine glass size, maybe 300ml) and L (looked like UK pint). Prices are ¥380, ¥580 and ¥980 for all beers. Seems reasonable, but given that the exact sizes aren't listed and there is that common double-whammy of a cover charge (¥350) and then tax added on top, it's not as cheap as it might initially look. For the cover charge you get a plate of nuts and malted barley, which is nice enough, but it is a bit of a killer if you just want to pop in for one. Apparently the cover charge only applies after 17:00, but I guess this is weekdays only, as I was charged at around 16:00 at the weekend.
- Open all day, all week, at least at the moment. We'll see how long that lasts, but it's definitely a positive.

So, a mixed reaction. If you are a Tokyo bar veteran, there's probably not a great deal to bring you here at the moment, but once they are up and brewing, maybe that will change. The daytime opening is a big plus and it's good if they don't charge the cover charge at this time. But still tax will be added and the choice of guest beers is unlikely to get many people's pulses racing. When they are brewing, I'll try to pop in and update this post.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Hitachino Nest
Baird
Ushitora

Opening Hours:
Daily, 11:30-23:00


Location/Map:

日本橋富沢町 10-13, Chuo-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 03-6231-0226 
 

Links:
Website
Facebook

Ratebeer listing

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Goto Jozo


Today, another quick post, this time on a new brewpub, although strictly speaking, you can't really call it that at the moment as they have yet to start brewing on site. Goto Jozo is a small standing bar tucked away in a side street near Kyodo station. They haven't been open very long and this might explain why they haven't managed to start brewing yet. They have a couple of their own beers but they're not exactly their own beers yet, as one was a collaboration with Futako and one brewed at Hitachino Nest. Actually, the Futako one was probably made there too. But they have a space set up for the brewery in the room next to the bar so I guess it's just a matter of time before they start up properly. Here is the info you need.

- Standing bar but with a couple of seats dotted around. Standing room for probably about 15 people along a couple of counters against the wall, a small bar area and a central island table. Would imagine it could be quite cramped if that many people were in there though. When I visited early on a Saturday night there were a few people there and more came over the course of my two beers, so maybe it's a reasonably popular place in the local neighbourhood.
- Five taps, but only four on when I went. I guess that they intend to fill these with their own beers in time, but at the moment they have some guests on. Selection of breweries was a little unusual, Hyappa, Futako, Tainai Kogen. Depending on your opinion of these breweries, this could be a good or bad thing. Certainly something different anyway.
- Beers served in four sizes 275ml (¥500), 385ml (¥800), 580ml (¥1000) and 1160ml (¥1800). All beers priced the same. A decent price for your ml here. Tax is included and there's no cover charge. It's cash on delivery so you pay as you go and order at the bar.

So, a new brewery in a location with not much in the way of craft beer (there's a place called Sumicraft too, but haven't been there yet). I originally intended to wait till they started brewing before I went here, but found myself in the area and thought I'd pop in. This place is kind of reminiscent of the Bakushu Kobo places, but on a bit smaller scale. Will have to go back and update when the brewery is up and running.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Goto Jozo
Futako
Hyappa
Tainai Kogen

Opening Hours:
Variable. Best check their website where they list their opening hours week by week. It's the first thing at the top of the page when you follow this link

Location/Map:

経堂 2-14-3, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6751-0698 
 

Links:
Website
Facebook

Twitter
Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Devil Craft Gotanda


A sightly belated post on the new Devil Craft today. I suspect that a lot of you have been there already as they've been open a little while now, but I haven't been able to find the time to visit till now. If you've been to one of the other Devil Craft bars you'll know what to expect really, so I'll keep the details brief on this one and you can check the other posts if you want more information. Have to say, I think this might be my favourite of the three though. Anyway, here's the basics.

- Ninth floor bar with a big window with city skyline type views. Counter seating for about twelve and tables (some of which are booths) for around 40. There is also a small standing area. Mini smoking room near the toilets so the actual bar is smoke free.
- Twenty taps of craft beer, a mix between Japanese craft, US imports and their own beers, roughly equally split. Beers generally served in two sizes, 260ml and 473ml (apart from ultra strong stuff, barrel stuff, things like that). Prices for the Japanese beers are ¥650 and ¥1000 for the half and pint. US imports range from ¥750-¥800 for the half and ¥1100-¥1200 for the pint. Also they have an excellent value happy hour which is well worth checking out. Weekdays, it's from 17:00-18:00 and from 15:00-17:00 on weekends. ¥100 off all beers (including half pints!) at these times. Great deal! Daily updated taplists for all of their branches can be found on their website.
- Also serves their famous deep dish pizzas. They take a while though, so you can preorder if you need to eat in a hurry.

Probably not a great deal else to say. Like I said, this is my favourite of the three. Kanda has always seemed a bit cramped, Hamamatsucho is nicer, but Gotanda has a nice open feel (although maybe this is because it was pretty quiet when I visited. I'm also a sucker for city skyline views for some reason, so that might have contributed. I'd say it is well worth visiting one of their bars to try their own brewery's beers as some of them have been really good (in my opinion). Gotanda is not exactly an area I find myself in very often, but this place would definitely encourage me to visit more often.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Devil Craft
Coedo
Iwatekura
Helios
Nasu Kogen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-23:00

Saturday 15:00-23:00
Sunday & Holidays, 15:00-22:00

Location/Map:

西五反田 2-7-8, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6421-7788
 
Links:
Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Anchor Point


A quick post on a new brewpub, or more accurately a huge fancy restaurant that makes its own beers. Anchor Point has really appeared out of nowhere and I hadn't heard of it till a friend mentioned it. There's clearly some big money behind it as the place is snazzy and massive but they are making 'craft beer' and it was surprisingly nice. I would hesitate to call it a brewpub, as although it does tick the boxes required, the focus is clearly the food, but it's still fine to pop in and just drink the beers.

- As mentioned already, this is a big place. There's a counter for 12 and then lots of tables. It's a restaurant after all. Large, open, high-ceilinged room attached to an office or maybe apartment building. Big patio out front too. Lots of staff buzzing around but was very quiet when we visited early evening on a public holiday.
- Five taps of beer, which in time will be all of their own. They only had three of theirs on when we visited though and a couple of US imports. Their beers seem pretty good value. Served in two sizes, medium (¥700 and pretty big, I'd say at least 300ml) and large (¥1000, bigger, 500ml at least, I'd say). Imports were pricier and to be honest it's not worth coming here to drink them as you could do that in plenty of other places. Tax included but there was a ¥400 cover charge per person when we went. Maybe this is not the case during the daytime or on the patio, but beware that it could be.
- Daytime opening again!

So, a place that will appeal to some and not to others I guess. The beers were (mostly) surprisingly nice for such a new brewery and especially when you consider that the restaurant seems to be the focus rather than the brewery hidden out the back. The patio would be great on a sunny day, although the location, deep in office worker territory, might not be exactly where you find yourself hanging around. The pours seemed generous and the staff were nice. So, all in all, a pleasant surprise.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Anchor Point

Opening Hours:
Daily, 11:30-23:00


Location/Map:

平河町 2-6-4, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-3263-8378 
 

Links:
Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing
 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Good Town Bakehouse


A quick post on somewhere that is mainly on here just because it's in my neighbourhood. I have been going through varying levels of snobbiness/fussiness for what should be on here and what shouldn't recently. Certainly, it's a positive thing that we can now be fussy about craft beer places. When I moved here five years ago there wasn't so much opportunity to be picky. Now we have a vast array of places serving craft beer. I wouldn't necessarily say that this has meant that we have a huge amount of great places though. Maybe we have all become pickier or maybe it's due to a lot of the new places that have opened being a convenient way of making some quick cash rather than a labour of love. All of which is a meandering way of saying I am trying to be a bit pickier about what gets on here. Certainly, Good Town Bakehouse is not the greatest beer place in the world that you have been dreaming about, so I am immediately contradicting myself, I guess. It does however have a few selling points which are the reason I have added it. Firstly, it's open during the day and secondly they have no cover charge. Oh, and it's near my house, but maybe that one works better for me than for you. Anyway, here are the things you need to know.

- Fancy looking US cafe/diner type place that focuses on coffee, sandwiches, baked goods and beer. I have had their grilled cheese sandwich twice now as I liked it a lot. Counter seating five, a big communal table for ten, smaller tables for about the same and a sofa too.
- Five taps of 'craft beer' including the non-craft Brooklyn Lager (now brewed in Japan by Kirin I believe) three taps of Sankt Gallen and one of Hitachino Nest White Ale. Rotation every six months (!), so this isn't somewhere to go for new beers. All served in three sizes, the smallest being a dimpled mug that looked like it was about 300ml, then US pint and UK pint. All beers priced the same at ¥700, ¥1050 and ¥1300 respectively. Tax included and no cover charge, so you pay exactly the prices above.
- Daytime opening, so another place where you could have a morning beer if you wanted. Daytime opening is always a big plus for me.

So that's about it. It's not going to set the world alight, but it's a pleasant place to get a sandwich and have a quick beer when most people are working (although maybe they aren't in Uehara).

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Hitachino Nest
Sankt Gallen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 15:00-23:00

Saturday 13:00-23:00
Sunday, 13:00-21:00

Location/Map:

上原 1-30-1, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6886-5330
 

Links:
Website
Facebook

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Blog changes

Just a quick post to inform you of some upcoming changes to this blog. In spite of the very generous help I have received from several people (thank you so much, all of you!), the backlog of places to visit and potentially add to the blog is completely out of hand (over 50 places at the moment). This means that places that very much deserve to be on here aren't yet and possibly, due to the number of new places maybe pushing up our expectations for what makes a good place, there are probably now some places on here that probably don't deserve to be on here anymore. I am still slowly working on trying to set up some new and more useful tags to make it easier to find what you might be looking for and hopefully this will be done some time soon.

In the meantime, it has been suggested that it might be a good idea to add the places on the backlog to the Tokyo Beer Drinker map. As googlemaps now has a few more icons, I'll be adding places to the map that are not reviewed and therefore unknown quantities with a question mark icon. If and when the place is actually visited the question mark will be replaced with a proper icon and a link to the post added. I know this means that there will potentially be some below average places on the map, but I hope that the question mark icon will basically be informing you that you're taking your own chance there. I think this is better than writing minimal details without actually going there, which to me seems like a waste of time.

Along with the question marks, I'll also be adding a star icon to places that I think are particularly good for whatever reason. There's now so many places in Tokyo and so many places on this blog that it's easy to drown in a sea of information and mediocrity. These stars will be totally personal opinion and probably not reflect the scores you might find on other sites. I think there's definitely a few big name places in Tokyo that are horrendously overrated. But probably plenty of people think they are justifiably high rated and that I'm an idiot, but you know, can't please everyone I guess!

Please feel free to leave me feedback if you think these are terrible or great ideas, or whatever really. And if you have taken photos of places I've added that are better than the photo I've used (not exactly a difficult task), I be grateful for them too. I'm always open to suggestions and I'm pleased to see that people read these posts and that they are useful. When I feel like giving up doing this blog (most weeks to be honest!), it's nice to have someone say that it's been helpful for them. Guess I'd better get on with these updates then...