Thursday, 15 December 2016

Beer Ma


This is the new bar from the people who were running World Beer Market on the other side of Kita Senju station. That shop has now closed and they have opened Beer Ma, a bar and bottle shop on the west side of the station and also Beer Ma Base, their warehouse which also functions as a bottle shop, one station away. I was planning to go to both but thought there probably wasn’t much point as I figured that whatever they’d have in their warehouse would also be in their shop. Perhaps I wasn’t quite right about this, so maybe I’ll have to visit and add Beer Ma Base another time. But for the time being this will have to do.

- Interesting looking place. Shop front has a bit of a pre-packaged distressed ‘artiness’ about it with lots of bits of colored sheet metal on it. Interior is concrete heavy in a Brewdog bar kind of way, or at least that’s what it reminded me of. Front part of the shop is the standing bar, with a bar counter and another counter along the other wall. The back part is the bottle shop. When we visited on a Sunday afternoon it was pretty busy and the turnover of customers was quite high. I guess the idea is that you stay for a couple and then move on, hence there being no seats. Perhaps the temperature in the shop also was intended to have this effect as it was pretty warm in there! Guess they might be overdoing it due to the big sliding door which lets in a lot of cold air every time someone arrives or leaves. To be honest I think the standing place by the door might be the best place to stand at the moment as the cold breeze was quite a pleasant relief from the heat at times. By the way, be careful with the door. I saw a couple of people get their hand nipped by it. Constant stream of light smooth jazz and Bossa Nova music. Maybe this is also supposed to contribute to the fast turnover of customers!
- Ten taps of craft beer, mainly imported with what seems to be an emphasis on Brewdog, Stone and the like. Seems that the tap selections veer towards the more mainstream. However, since they opened I have also seen them have some much more interesting stuff on too, so maybe I was just unlucky when I went. Prices ranged from ¥850-¥1200 but the size of the glasses varied and there were no sizes mentioned. I have a suspicion that the glasses were also not as big as they looked, a 650ml bomber pretty much filled two ‘pint’ glasses with not much head. Either my maths is not very good or the ‘pints’ are a bit smaller than what the name would suggest. For the taps, you can order at the counter or at the till. You pay as you go.
- Huge bottle selection, as you would expect from a beer shop. Whilst the choice is a little smaller than it was in the previous location there were still a large number of bottled beers from many different countries available. I felt that the Japanese selection had shrunk quite a bit, with some of the more unusual Japanese breweries they used to stock not being present. However the US selection is big and there is quite a lot of Belgian stuff too. I wonder if the selection at Beer Ma Base is the same, or if Beer Ma represents what they consider to be the highlights of their whole range. The price on the fridge is the beer price without tax, which is added at the till. To drink in, they charge you a ¥100 corkage fee, plus a charge of ¥100 per glass. I didn’t really work out whether they are happy with you reusing the same glass or you are supposed to get a new glass with every beer. [Got some clarification and you are supposed to get new glasses with each beer] Our group kind of did a bit of both. Even with these fees, the bottle prices are pretty good. Much better than the taps I think.
- Some food available. Think there was a lasagne and a few other small dishes. The other quick bits of info you need are that there is no cover charge and no wifi. They are open during the day for beer sales, but I believe you need to wait till the evening to drink on site.

All in all, I think this is a pretty interesting place to have as an option. I have always thought good things about their beer selection and although this has dropped a little, (at least in this location rather than at Beer Ma Base which might have more), it’s still one of the best in Tokyo. I’m not really sure the taps will be the thing that gets me to visit, although as they publish their taplist on their Facebook, if I spot something I want, I’ll pop in. The drink on site bottle shop is a great thing though. I think the corkage fee is perfectly reasonable and the prices good. The atmosphere is a little strange, but I think most people will either not notice it or maybe even enjoy it. It was pretty busy when we visited and I imagine that this will also be the case in the future. Will update this post when I manage to get to Beer Ma Base and clarify a few details, but this is clearly a place that will be of interest to quite a few beer lovers.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None when I was there, but think they occasionally have some

Opening Hours: 

Shop
Monday-Saturday, 12:00-22:00
Sunday & holidays, 12:00-21:00
Bar 
Monday-Friday, 16:00-23:00
Saturday, 14:00-23:00
Sunday & holidays, 14:00-21:00

Location/Map:

千住 2-62, Adachi-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-3882-2508
 

Links:
Website
Facebook

Ratebeer listing

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Hitachino Brewing Lab Tokyo Station


So, Hitachino Nest/Kiuchi have opened another Tokyo bar. I am a bit of a fan of their first location in Ochanomizu/Akihabara. It's pleasant to sit outside there next to the river and enjoy a daytime beer. The new place is a bit smaller, but the idea is the same, so it might be worth checking the post on the other location to get an idea. In any case, here are the details.

- Pretty small place in Granroof, stuck on top of the front of the east/Yaesu side of Tokyo station, looking down over the bus station. Big central table for maybe 15 at a push and a couple of other small seating areas. Not sure if they will expand outside in warmer times, but there definitely seems to be space and it would be quite a nice place to sit.
- 8 kegs and 2 handpumps of their beer. As with the other brewing lab there seems to be some rotation of beers. Unlike the other place they have handpumps and big bottles of their barrel-aged stuff. All taps are priced at ¥680. The big bottles were almost ¥3000! Tasting set of three beers for ¥980 but you can't choose which ones. Not sure of the sizes. No cover charge and tax is included. Pay as you go at the bar.
- Same small dishes served in jars as at the other brew lab (is Japas an actual thing? That's what I call it anyway) and looks like they do lunch sets too.

So, nothing very new, but it's another nice place to have a beer. I think I prefer the other branch as it's a lot less cramped, but if they have a patio here too, then I might change my mind. The location is good (well, I mean it's convenient if you are traveling or meeting someone) but I feel it's probably intended as somewhere you'd pop in to for one or two rather than a destination to spend a whole night out at. Daytime opening is a big bonus for me. That's probably half of the reason I like the other branch. The keg and cask beers are reasonably priced, but I think the bottles could be a bit of a hard sell. I'd like to try them, but not for ¥3000. But yeah, another decent place.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Hitachino Nest

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


Location/Map:

丸の内 1-9-1, グランルーフ2F, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

I don't think I can really give you a map for this one. You just have to leave the station via the Yaesu exit, find the bus station and then turn round and look up. The pin is in broadly the right place on the map, so if you are having trouble, check the map.

Telephone: 
03-6551-2515
 

Links:
Website
Facebook

Ratebeer listing

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...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Highbury - The Home Of Beer

Today a pub which, if it was in London would be a very divisive place, but perhaps doesn't have the same effect in Japan. Highbury, as you may have guessed, is a British style beer pub with a big Arsenal influence. Although there is definitely still something here for you if you have no interest in football. If you are a Tottenham fan though, you might find it a bit testing. Don’t confuse it with one of the many British or sports pubs around Tokyo as the place is very serious about its beer, evidenced by the fact that they will start brewing some time soon (hopefully) with their new ‘Gunners Brewing’ venture. Ando-san, probably known to some of you from his time at Bay Brewing or more recently working at the Hitachino Nest Brew Lab will be making the beers, drawing on his experience of working at breweries in the Czech Republic and more recently Thornbridge. The Thornbridge connection is in full display in the decor and the beer selection at Highbury too.

- Very much a British pub feel. Seating for around 16 at tables, a few standing tables and a standing counter too. To keep the British feel going, you order at the end of the bar and pay as you go. Food seemed like a mix of traditional pub food and some Japanese stuff. Didn't try it, but it looked nice.
- 11 taps, set out on the menu and blackboard as a football team line-up would be. The centre backs are not so interesting for craft beer lovers as they are Sapporo and Ebisu but the other nine taps are craft beer and are dominated by Thornbridge beers (five taps). The other four are made up with a couple of Hitachino Nest beers (one on handpump) and a couple of Ushi Tora beers. The logos for these breweries are painted on the outside of the building so I guess there will always be beers from these breweries on. Although this will probably change a little when they start brewing their own stuff.
- Beer is served in a variety of sizes. The Thornbridge stuff is available in half (UK half), medium (US pint, I think) and pint (UK pint) and is priced at ¥750, ¥1000 and ¥1200 respectively. The Japanese craft is available in half and pint too (¥800 and ¥1000) but the more special beers (including Hitachino Nest barrel aged beers), are just sold in one size and, judging by the menu, in a fancy glass. It's a nice touch that they have what is coming up next on the menu, so you know what to expect. No cover charge and tax included.
- Also a big bottle cellar with a big variety of styles, breweries and countries available, (US, Belgian and others) with some very interesting stuff there. Not sure how they are priced as I just peaked through the window, but it certainly shows that you have somewhere else to turn when you have exhausted the tap list.
- Just round the corner from Bamboo and from the two Vector places, so good chance for a nice pub crawl in a small area (if you don't mind the cover charge at Vector).

So, a new place with something that sets it apart from many of the other newly opened bars around. I think I'll be back here to drink Thornbridge some time, as whilst you see it around in some bars, you don't get it in such quantities in one place. The interesting bottle selection also sets it apart. It's clear that there is a real passion for beer here, something that is not present in all of the places I've been to for this blog, sadly. The daytime opening is a big plus too. A nice place that is recommended unless you are a sensitive Tottenham fan, but even then, there's still something here for you if you can get over the one small sticking point.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Hitachino Nest
Ushi Tora

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

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

Location/Map:

新宿 1-17-5, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
070-6456-1080 
 

Links:
Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Craft & Romance


This post will be a bit of a weird one as I have had this on my list to visit for a while as I had heard great things about it. In the meantime, one of my generous helpers, popped in there and sent me a few notes. So, I’ll state the facts about the place and then let you know what both James and I thought about the place individually. This seems fair as I had a slightly negative experience as you will see later, but it’s one which would probably only affect a tiny percentage of people, so I think it’s fair to get someone else’s opinion too. We have also each provided a photo, one of the entrance at street level and one of the bar entrance on the seventh floor, both equally bad (hope you don't mind me saying this James!).


- As usual with Craftsman bars, has a slightly fancy yet comfortable feel to it with plenty of seating, this time packed into a fairly small space. All in all it probably seats around 50 and most of it is at tables, with a couple of tiny counters. There isn’t a bar, the taps are along one wall, so you can sit with staff pouring beers behind your back. A pretty unique experience! Also, very nice small terrace seating 16 with views of the tops of buildings and the train station. Think it is much nicer than I made it sound. No smoking too.
- 31 taps, 28 of which are craft beer, the majority being Japanese stuff. Menu is divided by style and there are a decent mix of beer types and breweries. Small is ¥500 and regular ¥800, probably about 250ml and US pint. Beer flight of three 150ml glasses for ¥1050 isn't the greatest deal if you are looking for value for money, but works pretty well if you are looking to try a few things. ¥300 cover charge and tax is added on at the end, but we were able to get over cover charge waived if we ‘liked’ their Facebook page. Unfortunately we forgot to do so.
- Usual Craftsman food menu with an emphasis on pizza in this branch. Many people rave about how good the Craftsman chain’s food is.
- Fantastically late opening hours for a place of this kind. Very welcome!

James said:
"Better beer menu than Craft Beer Market… great beer flight… the outdoor terrace is pretty cool too…had a thoroughly enjoyable time and staggered out at 2am.  I walked the 6km back to my place partly to sober up and partly because even the night bus had gone. Late opening is great but you really need to live locally. Pretty sure I'll be back."

I am broadly in agreement with him, but as usual my problem was the food. I’m not complaining about a lack of vegetarian options as after all we are in Japan, but we were informed that a salad was ‘vegetables only’ and it contained bacon. It wasn’t a language difference as we were speaking Japanese and I was with a native speaker. The squid ink margherita pizza was back again too. The small amount of vegetarian items they had were delicious though, but I think I would have really enjoyed the experience a lot more if it wasn’t for the same food problems as Yokohama. Beer pouring was great though, (unlike Yokohama). Out of the three I’ve been to, Sendai is out in first place, Craft & Romance in the middle, purely for the food problem and Yokohama very far behind.

So thanks to James, you have some balance. The opening hours are amazing, it’s nice they let you off the otoshi (at least at the moment anyway, and at least if you remember to do it) and the beer selection and prices are decent. They publish their taplist on their Facebook page daily so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. They were pretty busy on the day we went though, so unless you’re heading there at a strange time it might be worth booking.
 

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Baird

Harvestmoon
Hideji
Hitachino Nest
Ise Kadoya
Loco
North Island
Oh La Ho
Romantic Village
Shiga Kogen
Swan Lake
Ushi Tora

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 17:00-01:00

Friday, 17:00-03:00
Saturday 11:00-03:00
Sunday, 11:00-00:00

Location/Map:
 
吉祥寺南町1-5-3, KICHIJOJI PIATTO 7F, Musashino-shi, Tokyo




Telephone: 
0422-24-6170
 

Links:

Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing
Twitter

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Beer Cafe Vertere


I have been looking forward to visiting Vertere for a while, mainly because of their unique location in the mountains, two hours out of Tokyo, but actually still in Tokyo. I actually didn’t realise until fairly recently that they had now started making their own beer and this, along with a nice Silver Week holiday from my work gave me the perfect reason to make the trip. To be honest, it wasn’t actually that bad. The change of train at Ome is very easy and the times link up nicely if you chose the right trains. Probably worth taking a book though as until you get to Ome, the scenery is not very exciting. After Ome though the train winds its way through a valley up to the town of Okutama. There is apparently lots of nice hiking around here, but we settled for having a quick look off the side of a couple of bridges and then went to Vertere shortly after opening. 


As suggested above the place has a great location. It’s half way up a mountain next to a river (you might be able to see it if you are in the garden and stretch a little, but as the weather was bad, we were sitting indoors so can’t really say for sure). The building looks a bit like a converted house and the seating area with a counter for four and tables for about 30 is light and airy with plenty of wood. There is also a nice garden with seating for probably about the same which I’m sure would be great in the summer. When we visited they had a small photo exhibition on too, which is another thing to look at whilst enjoying your beers.

They have a total of ten taps, divided into three categories, Prototype (five taps), Experimental (two taps) and Guest (three taps). The first seems to be their regular beers (Golden, Session IPA, Red IPA, Weizen and Cream), being tweaked batch by batch. As at the Bakushu Kobo places, the batch number is noted on the menu. The experimental section seems to be their seasonal beers. Sadly there were none on when we visited. The guests were all US imports but they did seem to be interesting ones. Beers are served in two sizes which I would say are in the region of 300ml and UK pint. Their own beers range from ¥500-¥700 for the small and ¥900-¥1300 for the large. I have to say that I really enjoyed some of their beers. All were pleasant but some were great. Impressive considering that they have started fairly recently. The imports were all ¥800 and ¥1500. The prices don’t seem to be the cheapest but you have to remember that the serving size is a little larger than some other places. And I certainly didn’t mind paying a little extra for the experience. They also sell growlers and do growler fills. Not sure how these are priced though. Along with the beer, they have a nice range of pub meals and snacks. You pay as you go with food and drink, ordering at the bar and with no running up a tab. Naturally, tax is included and there is no cover charge.



As you can probably guess, given the amount of photos in this post, the whole experience was probably as important as the beer for me. It was really nice to get out into the mountains, even if I restricted myself to looking at them through the window, and I am really happy that this place exists. I will definitely be back again, maybe in a few different seasons. I would imagine this would look pretty nice in Winter too! Not sure how their opening hours work in different seasons though, so I would suggest that you check their Facebook page in advance of making the trip. The post their monthly opening hours on there, so if you are planning on visiting during the week, I’d definitely check first. All in all, a great experience and one that I’m definitely going to repeat soon.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Vertere

Opening Hours:
Variable. Each month they post the month's hours on their facebook page as a photo, so check it out there.

Location/Map:
 
奥多摩町氷川 212, Nishitama, Tokyo



Telephone: 
0428-85-8590
 

Links:

Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing
Twitter

Monday, 26 September 2016

CraftBeer Cafe & Bar Synchronicity


I visited Synchronicity ages ago, back in the Spring and was intending to pop in to Living the same night and combine them in one post. Sadly Living was closed for a private party that night and I have only now managed to finally visit it. Ironically, after having the Synchronicity photo and details sitting on my computer for so long, I have now decided to revamp the tags on this blog (coming soon…) and now am going to post most places separately in order to not confuse matters. Nevertheless, it feels good that the two places (which as far as I know have absolutely no connection, other than the fact that I intended to visit them both the same night) can now be united and sit next to each other in the list of posts on this blog. Anyway, guess this is not the most relevant intro, so I won’t waste any more time and will get on with telling you what you need to know.

- Another Kannai bar, very close to Bay Brewing and Antenna America on that side of the train tracks and consequently another option for a Kannai crawl.
- Feels more like a pub than some of the new fancier bars and that’s a good point for me. Quite comfortable with a counter for around ten and seats for maybe 20 more. Unfortunately, smoking is allowed.
- Eight taps of craft beer, for some reason added to the menu in an apparently random number order. All Japanese craft and a mix of the more common names around with a couple you don’t see so often. Beers served in three sizes, S (280ml), M (360ml) and L (568ml), priced from ¥500-¥700 (S), ¥650-¥900 (M) and ¥900-¥1300 (L), so not too bad prices at all (remember the UK pint here is much bigger than usual US pints). No cover charge and tax included in the prices.

And that’s about it. The details are hazy as it has been a while since my visit and my notes were restricted to a couple of lines and a photo of the beer menu. When writing this post I noticed that their beer line up is posted on their Facebook daily and by the looks of some recent posts they get some pretty good stuff on tap here! Have a look for yourself and pop in and see. Their website doesn’t seem to really be working very well, but according to their Facebook they have lengthy opening hours which includes the daytime. Hooray!

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Johana

Hansharo
Takikawa
Minoh
Tainai Kogen
Shiga Kogen
Outsider

Opening Hours:
Monday & Wednesday-Saturday, 12:00-01:00

Sunday, 12:00-00:00
Closed Tuesday

Location/Map:
 
福富町東通 1-7-9, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken

 

Telephone: 
045-315-2532

Links:
Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing