Sunday, 14 May 2017

Brussels Beer Project Shinjuku

FYI, this place has opened on the site of the former Cafe Hoegaarden. I have kept the original post by James below if you are interested in reading that.

2017 seems to be shaping up to be the year of new taprooms in Tokyo. Not long after the opening of the new Mikkeller bar in Shibuya, the fairly new Belgian brewery Brussels Beer Project have taken over the old Cafe Hoegaarden site in between Yoyogi and Shinjuku, just up the hill from YYG. I never made it to Cafe Hoegaarden, but somehow found myself visiting Brussels Beer Project Shinjuku (hereafter referred to as BBPS), very soon after opening. What a difference a name makes! As a big Belgian beer fan, I was a bit put off by somewhere that named itself after one of the more uninteresting Belgian beers. Whilst I'm not sure how I feel about BBP yet, (they're only fairly new after all!), there is definitely a bigger incentive for me to visit this place after it's rebranding. I'm not sure if there is any connection to the Brussels chain of Belgian bars that ran Cafe Hoegaarden. BBPS doesn't appear on their website but it wouldn't be the first time that apparently unrelated places have a hidden connection. And I did spot someone in the facebook photos which would suggest that there is some kind of link. Anyway, enough of the preamble and on with the details.

- Seems to be a very similar layout to the old place. On the first floor, a counter for maybe 10, couple of small tables at the back. Didn't go upstairs but there seemed to be a few people up there and tabelog lists the official capacity as being 58, so there's obviously a bit of room. Decor is the usual bare concrete and bit of wood, but this time decorated with the bright colours of the various BBP beer labels. 
- 18 taps, 11 of which were BBP beers. Of these, five were regulars and six seasonals and collaborations. The remaining seven taps were Japanese Craft Beers with some kind of Belgian connection or feel. Serving sizes are a mystery. There are two sizes, the small probably being around 200-250ml and the large being a Teku glass being filled with probably about 350ml of beer. Just guessing at these sizes though. BBP regulars are priced at ¥700 and ¥950 respectively with the seasonals being ¥800 and ¥1050. Guest beers have a bit more of a price range, ¥700-¥880 and ¥1000-¥1200. The Japanese guests featured some pretty good selections, featuring interesting stuff like Yorocco, Kyoto and Zakko. They also had AJB on but I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing recently. Not sure if these interesting guests will continue or whether they were specials on for the opening events. 
- Pretty busy on the Saturday early evening we visited, but like I said, it was quite soon after opening. The atmosphere was pretty good with a wide range of customers in. Their playlist seemed to consist entirely of 80's ad 90's pop hip-hop which was a little surprising. Pleasingly, it's no smoking and there is no cover charge! They also serve food and the menu seems to be a mix of typical Japanese Craft Beer bar food with a slight nod towards Belgium. I was very very happy to see that they had samurai sauce available to order with the frites. It's been a while samurai sauce!

I was actually quite surprised how much I liked this place. As I said, I'm still not completely decided about their beers. I like them, but sometimes feel that they are being 'crazy' for the sake of it. However, everything I drank on the night of my visit was pretty good. It's good to see that there's no cover charge. Very welcome! I wish they would print the sizes of their servings on the menu though. It would make everything a lot more transparent. As it is, using only my limited skills of estimation, I think that their beers are pretty decent value, but that the Japanese guests are priced a little higher than elsewhere. I think this place could potentially have a recommended star on here, but I want to see how things settle down after a few months and could do with a clarification on the serving sizes. If anyone knows, please let me know. Also, they intend to have a bottle selection, which isn't up and running yet, but which could make it even more interesting. In any case, it's definitely worth stopping in if you are a fan of Belgian beers, or given that their beers run the gamut of styles, maybe if you are a fan of any kind of beer.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Kyoto
Ushitora
Far Yeast
AJB
Barabaric
Zakko
Yorocco

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-24:00
Saturday, 15:00-24:00
Sunday, 15:00-22:00

Location/map:
代々木 2-20-16, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5388-5523

Links:
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Website
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Post by James on the former incarnation, Cafe Hoegaarden

Cafe Hoegaarden is in the same street and only 30 seconds away from YYG. It is a two-storey building and looks pretty cool from the outside. The first floor has a counter with seven seats and a few tables and standing space. I didn't go up to the 2nd floor this time, but I once went to a year-end-party on the 2nd floor and 35 of us fitted in easily so it is quite big. Both floors are non-smoking. They have the usual Frites with Mayonnaise and a lot more besides. The food was good.
There are 18 beers on tap. When I went one tap was Mikkeler and the other 17 were Belgian style beers. Nearly all were from Belgium but there was a Swiss beer and a French one too. The beers are split into the following categories: White, Trappist, Abbey, Saison, Lambic, Red, Golden Strong, Specials, Pilsner and Fruits. However, the majority were white beers when I was in. There are also bottles available.
Prices are a bit difficult to summarize as many beers are served in non-standard glasses and these are priced differently. The standard size is 250ml and it costs ¥900-¥950. Not cheap, but Belgian beer seldom is in Tokyo. There is also a four beer taster set for ¥1680 (not sure what size the glasses are). There was no charge and I don't think tax was added onto the bill either. 
Overall, it's expensive but a good place if Belgian beer on tap is your thing.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Mikkeller Tokyo


Mikkeller is back in Japan. After numerous pop-ups they are back in a premises of their own and back in the heart of Shibuya. Although this time it's a quite different part of Shibuya, over the other side of Bunkamura to the old branch, in what is a very 'unique and interesting' neighbourhood. Previous to Mikkeller opening, the only times I had been to Dogenzaka were for gigs at the O-Nest. This area is very much a night life zone, with lots of restaurants, little bars, music venues and hotels where you can have a 'rest' if you find that you and your significant other suddenly find yourselves needing a lie down. The concept of the bar is fairly similar to last time, but in case you never made it there, here's what you need to know.


- Very nice looking place with lots of wood and bare concrete as you would expect. I may be biased but I think it's been done in a much classier way than usual here compared to the many other bars around that employ the same materials. The ground floor houses the bar, a few standing tables and a big wide windowsill that opens out into the street, allowing people to sit on both the inside and the street-side of it. Upstairs there are a variety of tables. Three small ones for two or three, a large table that can seat probably around 10 or maybe a few more if you budge up a bit and what is referred to as 'the best seat in the house', a table for three in the corner by the window, looking out at both the shrine and the love hotel. Something for everyone there I guess.
- 20 taps, unsurprisingly dominated by Mikkeller beers. When I visited for the second time there were three of the house beers (the ones that usually take on the name of the area the bar is in). This time they are called 'Toriaezu ____' which is quite a nice touch from a naming perspective. Hats off to whoever thought of that.  The beers are in a wide range of styles as you'd expect from a brewery like Mikkeller, but there are plenty that will please the kind of craft beer lover that rarely strays from IPAs and similar stuff. In addition to these, they had a few taps of Japanese craft, a couple of European imports and an interesting sake on. Most beers are served in two sizes, 200ml and 400ml. Some of the higher alcohol beers, the barrel aged stuff and the sour beers come only in the smaller of the two sizes. It's difficult to sum up the pricing in an all-encompassing way but I'll do my best. The house beers are ¥550 and ¥950 for the two sizes. The more regular Mikkeller stuff ranges from ¥600-¥750 and ¥1100-¥1300 for small and large respectively. The wilder stuff mentioned above ranges from ¥900-¥1300 for the smaller size. The Japanese stuff is priced around ¥750 and ¥1300.
-  As you'd expect with a place that is focused on beer, it's no smoking. You can smoke outside round the corner a bit, I guess so that the smoke drifts away rather than in through the big open front window. They also have wifi as you would expect. Unlike the last place there is a kitchen and they have employed a baker to bake on site but not sure if that is completely in full swing yet. Sure it will be soon though.


I guess there's not much else that I need to say about this place. You can probably tell that I am a fan. It's not going to be somewhere I go every night as I think I'd be broke and broken pretty quickly if I did that, as some of the beers here are not to be messed with. It's a nice treat though and the afternoon opening hours are very welcome. I think it's definitely a step up from the last bar and although it's taken a while for them to reopen, it seems like it's been worth the wait. As it's Mikkeller, there are automatically going to be people with strong opinions both ways about it, as they have their extreme lovers and their extreme detractors. Personally speaking, I think it's offering something that isn't available elsewhere in Tokyo and therefore a very welcome addition. I guess most people reading this will want to check it out sooner or later and will form their own opinions, but it's certainly not a place that can really be ignored.

Japanese breweries available on tap:
Hansharo
Yorocco
Shonan
TDM 1874
Shiga Kogen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 15:00-00:00
Friday, 15:00-01:00
Saturday, 12:00-01:00
Sunday & holidays, 12:00-00:00

Location/Map:

道玄坂 2-19-11, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-6427-0793
 

Links:
Website

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Brewin' Bar Monde


Brewin' Bar Monde is a place that has been open for quite a while but has gone under the radar of most beer lovers it seems. However, it has recently caught the attention of a few people, including myself, because it has started brewing. Brewpubs are still a bit of a rarity in Tokyo, and I have an unwritten policy which I think I usually stick too, (please correct me if I'm wrong...) that if a place is a brewpub, it is worth a write up on here. It seems that recently there seem to have been a spate of brewpubs that don't actually brew yet. I can confirm that Brewin' Bar Monde is definitely brewing. Whether or not this is a good thing, I'm not so sure. But anyway, here's what you need to know.

- Basement bar situated on a side street between Shinbashi and Ginza. This is not an area well known for its abundance of craft beer places. There is a counter for seven and tables for around 25 more. The decor is kind of what you would expect in Ginza. Much more traditional bar style rather than the wood and concrete we've got used to recently. Slightly bizarrely, it opens in the daytime but after lunch, which is a first for me.
- Eight taps of craft beer, half of which were their own creations. Beer is served in three sizes, half, US pint and UK pint. Pricing is high, possibly as you'd expect for the area, but a little bit painful all the same. Their own beers are, from smallest to largest, ¥800, ¥1200 and ¥1500. There's also a flight of all four of their beers for ¥2000, but there wasn't any sign of how big the servings might be. Guest beers are mostly from the usual Japanese craft breweries and cost ¥1000, ¥1400 and ¥1800. So I guess you can see that we're talking possibly one of the most expensive places on this blog. Tax is added at the end too, so it's even pricier than it looks above.
- During the daytime there's no cover charge, but after 17:00 you can add another ¥500 per person to your total. Those costs just keep going up! Also it's a smoking place. We were fortunate to visit in the daytime when the place was empty, so avoided the cover charge and any smokiness, but I guess these could both be something that puts people off. They do have wifi though!

So a place which I have some reservations on including. I guess their rent is high, but the prices are just crazy. If you are desperate to try their beers, I suggest that you go when you won't have to pay the cover and I might also suggest that you give them a little while as it seemed they were still getting to grips with brewing. Given that they've been around for a while it seems that they are not just riding the craft beer bandwagon. At the same time, the fact that they've been around for a while but have gone under most people's radars does speak for itself a little.

Japanese breweries available on tap:
Brewin' Bar Monde
Ushitora
Fujizakura
Preston
Obihiro

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, 14:00-23:00
Closed Sunday & holidays

Location/Map:
銀座 8-11-12 B1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-3574-7004

Links:
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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Good Sleep Baker


Today a quick post on somewhere that had previously appeared on my digest post but now has a full entry on here. Good Sleep Baker is a bar with bakery upstairs in an area that I didn't really have anything on my Tokyo Beer Drinker map. It's within about a 20 minute walk of Umegaoka's Taptime which I visited before Good Sleep Baker on a walking pub crawl one very rainy Saturday evening. In case you were interested, I went to Small World and Awashima afterwards. Here's what you need to know.

- Nice feel to the place. Quite small, but doesn't feel cramped. Two counters, one at the bar and one against the wall, both seating around six. There is some standing room too. The ground floor houses the bar, which also sells some food items, including bread from the bakery upstairs. I should have tried it but unfortunately I didn't. Sorry!
- Three taps of Japanese craft beer. The menu displays six, but the bottom three are what is coming on next. Beers are served in pint and half pint (both US I think) and are priced from ¥1000-¥1200 and ¥600-¥700 respectively. You pay for your drinks and any food you order as you go at the counter. Whilst there weren't any mind-blowingly unusual or rare things available, the selection steers clear of the kind of 'cheap kegs' that you find in many places recently.
- There's no cover charge and the place is no smoking. Both very welcome! The clientele appeared to be mainly locals who I guess have been waiting for somewhere to drink beer and eat bread to open in their area for a while. Lucky them!

I liked this place. Whilst you are unlikely to find anything here you won't find anywhere else, it's a nice place to drink your way through the tap list. The prices are round about what you might expect and it seems to be a locally run and locally patronised place, which I always think is a good thing. Some people might think that it doesn't deserve a full write up from what I've said, but I like beer and bread, and I enjoyed my time here. It also fills a nice gap on the map. I imagine I will repeat the same pub crawl again some time in the near future.

Japanese breweries available on tap:
Baeren
Minoh
North Island
Harvestmoon
Swan Lake

Opening Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday, 17:00-01:00
Sunday, 15:00-23:00
Closed Wednesday

Location/Map:
世田谷 4-13-20, Setagaya, Tokyo



Telephone:
050-7128-3201

Links:
Website
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Cafe & Craft Beer Asaya


Today, the other place that I went to in Fuchu. You can check out the post on Beer House Ken here and I would recommend that if you're in the area, you do both of these places in a mini crawl. Much like Beer House Ken, Asaya doesn't have the largest selection compared to some other places in Tokyo, but it is a nice option if you're in the area and you want to support some local places. I have to say, I quite enjoyed my visit and if I'm out that way again, I wouldn't hesitate to pay a second visit. Here's what you need to know.

- Narrow bar with quite a modern feel. Counter for around five or six and tables for about 20 more. Feels quite spacious and a little different from other craft beer places in Tokyo. Has more of a cafe vibe in that it's quite bright and is nicely decorated with lots of little knick-knacks. Even though I was the only person there shortly after opening on a Friday, it had a nice feel to it. No smoking too. The master was very keen to chat and was a very nice guy. He recommended Beer House Ken to me, which I was actually already planning to go to, but it's good to see the local places sticking together!
- Five taps of Japanese craft, served in three sizes. All beers were priced the same. Half was 260ml for ¥650, regular was 410ml for ¥880 and pint was the UK size, 560ml for ¥1100. So pretty decent pricing! Also these prices include tax and there is no cover charge. Wonderful! The selection included a few breweries you don't see around so often which is good if you are into trying new things.
- Had a food menu and an interesting looking kitchen, but I didn't eat as I was on a bit of a tight schedule. Actually, it seems I always am recently...

There's probably not much else that I can add from my brief visit, but I think I've covered most of the important points. Be sure to check the opening times before you go as I think there is some seasonal variation of opening hours. I think the hours I have put below though are the more conservative ones, so hopefully you'll find it's open more often than you thought, rather than the reverse. I think it's important to support places like these, which seem much more like a labour of love than the numerous chains (and hidden chains) that dominate the Tokyo bar scene now.

Japanese breweries available on tap:
Loco
Tokorozawa
Minoh
Kazakami
Zumona

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Friday, 17:00-22:00
Saturday, 16:00-22:00
Closed Sunday & Monday

Location/Map:
宮西町5-4-3, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo



Telephone:
042-302-0388

Links:
Website
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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Beer House Ken


Today, the first of a couple of places I visited in Fuchu. Beer House Ken has been on my radar for a while but I have never had the chance to visit until now. It's another one of those beer shops where you can drink on site, which I always find quite fun. Unfortunately, as I was in a bit of a hurry and was by myself, I didn't drink anything there. But I was able to pick up a couple of beers to take away. Here's the basics. By the way, don't be put off if it looks like it's closed. The view you see in the picture above shows what the place looks like when they are open.

- World beer shop with about six fridges of beers of various styles and from various countries. Predominately imports, with lots of Belgian, German, US and Scandinavian stuff. There is a handful of Japanese craft beer available (including loads of different Baird beers), but imports are the name of the game here. Prices are pretty much as you'd expect. Also has some glassware for sale.
- Has the feel of a small warehouse/garage with a corner taken up by the office and till and the rest of it being fridges of beer with a couple of little tables and stools for on site drinking. There is no charge to drink on site, which is pretty unusual for these kind of places. I guess realistically though, it's not the kind of place you would really spend a few hours. Probably more a case of have a beer whilst you're browsing, or after you have purchased before you go home.

I guess there's not really much else to say as the concept is pretty self-evident. Certainly there are places around that have bigger selections, but Beer House Ken is a nice place to pick up some good beers if you are in the area and can be easily combined with a trip to Asaya, which will be the next post after this one.

Japanese breweries available:
Yo-ho
Baird
Hitachino Nest
Oh La Ho

Opening Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday, 12:00-22:30
Sunday & holidays, 12:00-21:00
Closed Wednesday

Location/Map:
宮町2-3-8, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo



Telephone:
042-369-7710

Links:
Website
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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Craft Beer House Kiwi


Post by Iain

This one man operation has six counter seats facing the street for people watching, plus ten table seats. There is a ¥200 cover charge and beer-wise, the selection is given as Wheat, IPA, Barley Wine, Extra, Edelpils, but in practice Wheat often translates as a pilsner, and Barley wine might be a Stout. Extra tends to be something above 10% and is served only in a smallish size. When I was there the beers were Gotemba Kogen Sakura Hime, Shonan Simcoe IPA, Kyoto Brewing Tomin kara no Mezame Stout (although they had just run out and switched to the local-ish Mitaka Imperial IPA), and for the Extra, Baird Ganko Oyaji. Prices were ¥470 or ¥560 for a glass, and ¥890/980 for a tumbler.


Overall I liked the vibe here a lot, enough so that although I don't live in Takaido I would happily stop off for an afternoon beer on the way up or down the Inokashira line. The BGM was folky but unobtrusive, and the winter food menu was curry, gnocchi, fried chicken or fish donburi, and stew. Presumably there will be a Spring menu by the time you read this. Check their website/Twitter for the latest updates.


Kiwi is a No Smoking establishment, and according to the menu they do take out beers in a plastic cup, which could be handy now it is cherry blossom season as the Kanda river is just round the corner.


Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Gotemba Kogen
Cool Air One
Shonan
Baird

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00-14:00, 17:00-23:00
Closed Monday

Location/Map:
高井戸東 2-26-2, Suginami-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5336-3220

Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Friday, 7 April 2017

Sendai intermission part 5: Tazawako Beer Sendai


[To see all the Sendai posts on this blog, click here]

Today, another place that we managed to visit on this year's Sendai trip. It has been open less than a year and is an interesting addition to the city's beer scene, being I think the first brewery taproom in town. Tazawako is from Akita, so not even that close, but I guess Tohoku sticks together and promotes each other's stuff. Would love to get up to Akita some time and check out a few of the breweries up there, but I suspect that would be a little out of the range for this blog. I feel that anything much over an hour and a half on a shinkansen is probably stretching the remit of Tokyo Beer Drinker a bit far. Anyway, here's what you need to know.

- Brewery taproom for Tazawako Beer who make mainly German style beers (much like many other Japanese breweries!), some of which are really nice. Second floor narrow room with the bar down one side and tables for around 20 and a counter for five. Serves some interesting food with a Tohoku influence. One of the big attractions for us was that they have iburigakko which we like a lot. Also there was a pizza with miso, negi and nori which was pretty unusual and pretty delicious.
- Eight taps of beer, six of which are regulars and two guests. On the day of our visit one of the guests was actually one of their beers. The regulars were Alt, Kolsch, Pils, Dark Lager, Buna No Mori and Sakura Komachi. I believe that at least some of these regulars also rotate with the seasons. Beers are served in three sizes, regular (300ml, ¥480), large (510ml, ¥780) and Tazawako glass (1000ml, ¥1500). Beer flight of 280ml of any three of your choice (including guests) for ¥990. Tax is added afterwards, but these are still pretty good prices!
- Unfortunately has the double bummer whammy of a cover charge (¥300) and smoking being permitted, both of which are a shame, but at least the cover charge is compensated somewhat by the prices being pretty cheap.

So, this is something a little different in Sendai which seems to have more than its fair share of pub chains. I always like to visit breweries' taprooms and the beer flight option means that you can easily plough through most of the taps quite cheaply. When you compare the sizes and prices of the regular glass and the flight, the flight looks like an even better deal. I can imagine this will be somewhere that we'll pop back into next year as the food was exactly what we were looking for (even after we had already eaten), and some of the beers were really nice. Cheers!

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Tazawako

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, holidays and the day before a holiday, 17:00-23:00
Closed Sunday

Location/Map:
一番町 3-6-12 2F, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi-ken



Telephone:
022-796-2988

Links:
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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Sendai intermission part 4: Delirium Cafe


[To see all the Sendai posts on this blog, click here]

A new football season means that I am revisiting cities and consequently getting to some new places that I either missed last time, or passed over. I was torn about adding this place, as it was by no means mind blowing, but in the end, decided that a place with over thirty taps of Belgian Beer can't really be left off of here. It wasn't the most exciting of pub visits, but they have some good beers here, and the prices are not too bad. Hopefully soon I will get round to filling in some of the other Delirium Cafe gaps that I have in Tokyo too.

- Looks pretty much the same as all the other Delirium Cafes in Japan. I always think they do a fairly decent job of recreating a Belgian feel. Admittedly, it's the feel of those kind of bars you find on a main town square for the tourists, rather than the really good places. Plenty of seating, maybe a capacity of around 50 with a counter for around ten. Comfy feel to it, but has the same kind of atmosphere you find in most of these places. Not unpleasant in any way, but maybe a touch safe.
- 32 taps on Belgian beer. As I have complained about the other places, a lot of this is filler, but they still manage to have some good stuff in there. Prices are reasonable. Decent beers in 250ml glasses start from around ¥690 and increase in price with alcohol percentage and rareness. Tax added at the end though. They also do beer flights, 3x150ml for ¥1440 or 5x150ml for ¥2220. Their taplist, along with the taplist of all the other Delirium Cafes is posted online here (in Japanese). Fridge of bottles which, like in many of the other bars, looks much more interesting than the bottle menu. Not sure of the prices, but normally these tend to be a bit pricier.
- Fully non-smoking, which is nice. It's located in the Parco 2 shopping centre, so maybe this is why, but it's very welcome. The smoking is always a big drawback of the Kasumigaseki branch in Tokyo. Full daytime opening, probably also connected to the shopping centre thing. But one drawback, a ¥300 plus tax cover charge, which seemed to only apply after 5pm, but I wouldn't go there depending on that. It's unfortunate, as it's pretty close to the station, so would be a good place to pop in whilst waiting for a train, which is exactly what I did, but the cover charge would slightly put me off doing so again.

So, basically, another Delirium Cafe. You can check out the other ones here, but like I said, I have a few missing still, which I have been to, but for one reason or another haven't put on here. I think Delirium do a decent job of making Belgian beer places in Japan, but I don't find myself going to them so often. The Sendai branch is another decent place with a big tap selection. It certainly outshines the Brussels chain branch in Sendai, the Crepuscule, which had a tiny selection and was basically in a foyer. I didn't bother stopping for a drink there. Guess the thing about Deliriums is that they are pretty predictable which, depending on the situation, can be a good or bad thing. Interpret that how you want!

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
None

Opening Hours:
Daily, 11:00-24:00

Location/map:
中央 3-7-5,  PARCO 2 1F, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi-ken



Telephone:
022-395-4451

Links:
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Friday, 31 March 2017

Mitsuya's Liquor


Almost immediately after starting my digest post about places that I wasn't getting time to go to, and adding Mitsuya to that post, I found myself in Asagaya, so was able to revisit the place. I went there a few times a few years ago, but for one reason or another I didn't add it at the time. I think possibly this was because I was more focused on Japanese beer on this blog at that time. Since then though, criteria for inclusion on here has changed a lot and I now feel it's definitely worth an entry. Here's what you need to know.

- Bottle shop with a possibility to drink on the premises, tucked away a little way down a covered shopping arcade south of Asagaya JR station. Nearer to the metro (Minami Asagaya), but there's probably more, at least beerwise, towards the JR.
- Fairly large selection of imported bottles with a sprinkling of Japanese stuff in there. Sprinkling is the right word as the Japanese breweries are dotted around all the fridges. Maybe it was arranged by style. I didn't think to check. Beers are predominately from the US, but there's also a decent selection of Belgian and Scandinavian stuff.
- Drink on site available out the back (a small fee is added to the bottle price, ¥100 I think). They have two taps which seemed pretty well priced. One was a Rogue beer and one from Ushitora and both were ¥500 for one of those plastic Sapporo cups you see around at events and festivals. Decent serving for the price, I reckon.
- As well as beer, they have tons of sake and other types of booze. They serve sake by the cup to drink on site too.

So, a decent place to stock up on all types of booze if you are in the area. Have never used the drink on site option out the back, but that's a fun thing to be able to do too. Unfortunately the Japanese selection is pretty limited and pretty uninspiring, so if you're after Japanese stuff you'd be better off going elsewhere. But for imports, particularly US ones, this is a great option.

Japanese Breweries on Tap:
Ushitora

And in bottle:
North Island
Far Yeast
Baird

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 11:30-22:30
Saturday & holidays, 11:30-20:00
Sunday, 15:30-19:30

Location/Map:
阿佐谷南 1-13-17, Suginami-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-3314-6151
 
Links:
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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Donation button

Just thought I should post something explaining my reasons for adding a donation button today. As you have probably heard me complaining previously, due to the crazy amount of new places opening, it is very hard to find the time and the money to cover everywhere that should be covered. I have always resisted adding adverts to the blog as I think it really interferes with the supposed impartiality that I like to think it has. Also, the adverts I had seen on other blogs were at best, wildly inappropriate. So, I thought the thing to do was to add a donation button on the right hand side, just below the link to the map.

Of course, there's absolutely no pressure for anyone to donate. The blog will plough on for as long as there are good, new places opening. But if it has been of some use to you and you would like to show your gratitude in a form that would quickly be transformed into beer, any donations will be gratefully received! And if you are reading this and have contributed posts or help, I'll pass on some beer love to you next time I see you once the millions start pouring in. Oh, and sorry the button graphic looks so dodgy. I'm guessing it's because of the background colour of the blog as it looks fine when you put it on white.

Cheers!


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Brew Pub Pacific NW


Post by Mark (his first one, thanks Mark!)

Beerpub Pacific NW is just south of Roppongidori, almost midway between Shibuya and Roppongi. I walked there in ten minutes from Omotesando station, so it perhaps should be considered one of the bars of Omotesando. The jazz clubs Blue Note and Body & Soul are quite nearby, so if you were going there you would have a good excuse to visit the pub. The owner, from Osaka, is very friendly, which I enjoyed, but if you want to be left alone while you drink, this may not be the place for you.


There were five taps and the same number of bottles. In keeping with the name of the place, all the beers (and one cider) were from the Pacific Northwest, except one collaboration beer. The beer was in good condition, dispensed on draft from a homemade kegerator. Bottles were ¥950-¥1250, draft pints were ¥1250-¥1450, and half pints are ¥800-¥950, yet as I was there during happy hour, 15:00-18:00, half pints were only ¥500. Taxes were included. So prices were on the high side, but average for the area. In the future, the owner’s homebrew, made in the back, might also be served.

There were 20 seats, seven at the bar, three stools facing the wall behind the bar, four seats around a sort of picnic table beyond the bar, and a round table with six seats behind that. It didn’t seem cramped at all, and was quite bright late in the afternoon. The owner said she has about ten regulars, so it doesn’t seem like it has been very crowded. The bar is decorated with various knick-knacks and a couple of Jimi Hendrix posters. Beyond the bar there were an acoustic guitar and an electric organ; the owner said she wants to have some musical performances there in the future. Food is available, and it seems very healthy: lots of beans & veggies. The chicken and waffles seemed to be the least healthy item.

Japanese Breweries on Tap:
Ise Kadoya

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 15:00-22:00
Friday & Saturday, 15:00-23:00
Sunday, 15:00-21:00
Closed one day a month. Take your chance or check their website's calendar to see which one.

Location/Map:
南青山 7-2-7, Minato-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6886-5979
 
Links:
Facebook
Website

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ann's Craftbeer Cafe


Finally, this is part three of my Chitosekarasuyama round up. Part one was Beertoria Miagolare and part two was Novel Craft. After I’d tried to visit Ann's twice on a Wednesday, I discovered that their opening hours on their Facebook page were wrong and that I was not going to have much success going here on that day. Now you have all you need to plan a Chitosekarasuyama pub crawl. Just don’t try to do it on a Wednesday.

- Maybe the biggest out of the three Chitosekarasuyama places, but not by much. They have counter seating for maybe six and seats at tables for about twenty more. A substantial portion of the floor space is taken up by the kitchen so I’m guessing they are quite serious about their food. I only had some pickles though. They were nice.
- Ten taps of craft beer, (so the most in the area) split maybe 50/50 Japanese and imports. The Japanese selection had some stuff you don’t see around so often and was a decent selection I thought. The menu very clearly states serving size and price for each beer so all credit to them for doing that! Small size is 260ml and ranges from ¥670-900. The large size is 410ml and goes from ¥910-1300. Obviously, the imports are generally speaking towards the higher end of this scale. They also have a beer flight available. Four beers for ¥1400, the glasses being maybe 150ml. No cover charge.
- Was fairly bustling when we went early on a Saturday evening and it seems, once again, like a place that is popular with the locals. The staff were welcoming and helpful and the place is no smoking and has wifi. Another big selling point is that they are apparently open all day, all the time (apart from Wednesdays of course!), which would make it a real rarity.

Like the other two Chitosekarasuyama bars, it’s quite a nice place. I think the locals here are a bit spoiled, having three decent places to go to. Whilst there is maybe not so much to bring you here from a great distance, the fact that there are three places in close proximity means that lovers of pub crawls and the Keio line will find something worth making the trip for. I wouldn’t like to pick a favourite out of the three places, but I’d say that if you are looking for Japanese beers and a homely kind of atmosphere, Ann’s is the place. If you want imports and you like cats, go to Beerttoria. And if you’re a late night hip-and-smoky vibes kind of person then Novel Craft is the place for you.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Mojiko
Outsider
Baeren
Yamaguchi
Yagi

Opening Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 11:00-24:00
Sunday, 11:00-22:00
Closed Wednesday

Location/Map:
南烏山 5-32-6, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6313-9688
 
Links:
Facebook
Website

Twitter
Ratebeer listing

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Antenna America Shinagawa Atre


Today, a quick post on a fairly new place in the middle of a department store food court in Shinagawa. Antenna America have branched out from their base in Yokohama to open a small bar and bottle shop in Atre, attached to Shinagawa station. Thank you to Davido for visiting and sending me photos and information. I popped in this morning on the way back from renewing my visa to have a look myself, but not to get a beer as it was a bit early and I have to work this afternoon.

- In the middle of the shopping centre food court on the third floor of Atre, which is found on the east side of the station, outside the ticket barriers. If you are arriving on the train from a JR line, head for the East (Konan) exit and you’ll only need to go up one floor. It’s a little bit tricky to find the escalator, (it’s near the outside of the building if you need to know), so maybe easier to just take the lift after entering Atre/Isetan. Look for 'Food & Time Isetan'.
- Apparently eight taps, but only six were on at the time of the visit. Expect to find the usual Antenna America stuff that you normally see at the bar in Yokohama, perhaps veering a little towards the safer end of their product line. As you might expect, the list was heavy on IPAs, but that’s life now really, isn’t it? All beers on tap are ¥800 and the size is probably around 350ml, so the pricing is about what you’d expect. Also there is a selection of bottles and cans (see the picture below. Again, maybe not as exciting as at the main branch in Yokohama), which you can drink in or take away for around ¥500. Beware that all of these prices are before tax, so you’ll pay a little more at the register.


- As it’s in a food court, the setting is kind of different from how you might expect in a bar. There are six seats at the bar but other than that you need to get your beer and sit at one of the tables spread around. One benefit of it being in a food court is that you can get a variety of things to eat from the other outlets whilst you’re drinking. I have heard that it might be a little tricky to get served at quiet times as maybe they are not expecting people to be drinking in the daytime. But hang around and try to catch someone’s eye.
- No smoking and no cover charge. As I might have mentioned already, it’s in a food court.

As I am yet to drink here, I’ll go with what Davido said as a conclusion. This is not really a beer geek place. The atmosphere, as you might expect, is a little different from drinking in a bar. The prices are reasonable and it’s a good option if you have some time to kill at the station. Not sure it would really be a destination though, but it does the job as a meeting place before you head on somewhere else. Given the amount of people who work in the area, I imagine it gets busy when offices close with workers on their way home, but I guess if you want to drink US imports during the day and are not so bothered about a blistering hot atmosphere, this is a good place for you. There is wifi too apparently, so maybe it’s an option for people who need to get some ‘work’ done.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 08:00-22:00
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays, 10:00-22:00

Location/Map:
 
アトレ品川 3F, 港南 2-18-1, Minato-ku, Tokyo

I'm guessing you don't need a directions map as it's attached to the station.

Telephone:
None
 

Links:
Website

Atre Website
Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Loose ends/various places

This will be a constantly updated post with brief descriptions of places that possibly deserve to be on here but which I have no time or inclination to visit. I have tried various ways of keeping up to date with the crazy amount of places that are opening and have been struggling with deciding which places warrant including and which don't. This seems to be a reasonable way of dealing with them. They will remain on the map with a question mark as I can't vouch for any of these. The map will link to this post where places will be listed in alphabetical order with a short description and link which should give you some idea of what to expect and whether it's worth going to. There will be no tags, as that will just confuse matters I think. If I end up going to any of these places and they are worthy of a full write up, I'll remove them from here and make them a post of their own. Not everything on the backlog will be on here. This is mainly intended for what I imagine to be a bit less interesting but still worth mentioning places.

Au Fil Des Jours - Shinbashi
Part of the Brussels chain of Belgian beer bars who despite offering a fairly run of the mill selection seem to host some excellent Lambic related events. Belgian beers with a permanent tap of Kyoto Brewing on too.
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Beer & Dining DW - Yokohama
The 'taproom' of the Double Well brewery, taproom being in inverted commas as they don't seem to be brewing yet. When they do, this will probably warrant a full entry, but till then, it's a beer cafe with some decent selections, a little bit out of the way in Yokohama.
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Beer Republic The Grub - Ogikubo
The first Grub. I imagine it's pretty much like the Grub in Yoyogi Uehara, which was posted about here
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Berg - Shinjuku
Little food and drink place inside Shinjuku station in the basement of Lumine Est. Bit difficult to find and always seems busy and smoky, but usually has some good stuff on.
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Beerich Yeast - Kinshicho
Five taps of craft (two Yo-ho regulars and three Japanese guests). Occasionally have seen interesting stuff on here.
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Beer Wars - Nihonbashi
Surely only seconds away from a cease and desist from Disney with regards to their name and logo. Some of my friends seem to like this place so I should probably visit soon. Round the corner from Nihonbashi brewery. At least seven taps. That was what I saw in a recent photo anyway.
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Brussels - Kanda
The rival Belgian bar chain to Delirium. Beers on tap are predominately very boring. Selection of bottles, but they're unsurprisingly expensive. I'm a big Belgian beer fan and have never been to one of them which says something I think. Shame though, as they seem to like beer and have some special events with very good stuff sometimes like when they did the lambic trailer.
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Brussels - Kagurazaka
See the Brussels Kanda listing above. Amusingly seem to have made a mistake with the spelling of their own name on their facebook page.
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Brussels - Otemachi 
See the Brussels Kanda listing above, but add in a permanent Kyoto brewing tap which I'd say gives it the edge over the other two places.
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Comme La Gueuze - Tamachi
Belgian dining place and bar with an averagely interesting selection but semi-high prices and a cover charge. As far as I can tell, not as exciting as I thought it would be from the name.
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Craft Beer & Wine U - Tachikawa
One of quite a few mysterious places in Tachikawa that I am unlikely to get to soon. Judging by untappd, they have a mix of Japanese craft and imports.
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Craft Meat - Tamachi
Crazy name for a beer bar. Seems similar business plan to a Vector bar. No connection apparently. That should give you enough of an idea though. Not much else in the area.
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Craft Works - Hongosanchome
Not to be confused with the many similarly named places in Tokyo, 10+ taps of Japanese craft and imports and from what I can tell a kind of Craft Beer Market feel to it, although not with the same bulk purchasing enabled low prices.
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Dragonfly Beer Hall - Kiyosumishirakawa
Seems like another Baird franchise type place with six taps of Baird beer. Usefully, it's in an up and coming place with not much in the way of beer at the moment.
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Focusrite - Ichigaya
Not the cheapest place by the looks of it! Four taps of fairly run of the mill craft, line-up listed on their website. Included only as it's in a pretty quiet area for beer.
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The Griffon - Shibuya
Been around for ages, popped in once and didn't feel like adding it, but probably deserves to be on. Large, if a little random selection and smoking allowed... Very late opening.
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The Griffon - Shinjuku 
See above. Pretty much the same as with the Shibuya branch.
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I/R Second House - Shirokanedai
Kind of fancy restaurant-type place apparently, open during the day I believe and sometimes with interesting tap takeovers. Probably deserves a full write up, but I'm always a little intimidated by the fanciness and the fact that it's food focused.
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The Legend - Gotanda
Same chain as the Griffon places above and same kind of feel. Smoking section is a different room so that's an improvement.
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Ohka The Bestdays - Nakameguro
Gyoza place with four taps of Shiga Kogen. Bottles from Gigantic too. Not the cheapest. Very near Deguchiya.
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ØL by Oslo Brewing Co. - Shibuya
Wasn't sure if this should be added even to the digest post. Pricing is ridiculous, selection dubious. But according to the brewery, they are aware and it's a work in progress so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. We'll see, but approach with caution.
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On The Marks - Kawasaki
Hotel with a Kyoto brewing permanent tap. Apparently opens in the daytime but have yet to confirm that. Heard it's a little pricy too.
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Pivoya - Yokohama
Czech bar with the usual suspects available but also I've heard with some more interesting stuff. Have been meaning to go here for ages but it's not so close to the Yokohama places I've already written about.
Website

  
S-46 Beer Market - Chigasaki
Beer and dining type place with a heavy focus on Shonan beers and Italian food. Will visit when I get to Gold 'n Bub and add it if it deserves a full write up. 
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Screamin' Hop - Kanda
Four taps of US imports from various importers. I guess the theme is IPAs looking at the name and the selection I saw on the facebook.
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Spice Diner - Tameikesanno
A curry and craft beer place that is located in the heart of salaryman territory and not open at the weekend, so tough for me to get to.
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Station Cafe BASEL - Tachikawa
A station cafe that is confusingly in Tachikawa rather than Basel. Seems to have a semi-interesting line-up of beers judging by untappd, but looks much more of a cafe than a bar. Daytime opening I guess though.
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Tameals - Shinagawa
Station bar with a rudimentary selection of craft beer. Useful location, but without visiting can't be sure if it's not just a cash-in kind of place. Definitely has the look of a big money chain. Beware, the other branches have no craft beer.
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Vector Beer Kinshicho - Kinshicho
Another Vector place but quite a long way from the other two. I guess the same kind of thing going on though, so you can check what that is here.
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Wurst Haus - Toranomon
Just down the road from the Toranomon CBM. German themed bar serving German imports and Japanese craft in German styles.
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