Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Hatos Outside


Today, a post about a place that I’ve been hearing good things about from people who are big US beer fans. Hatos Outside is connected to the BBQ and beer place in Naka Meguro called Hatos Bar. I once tried to go there, as the friend I was with was desperate to try some of the Gigantic beers they had available. But it was totally packed and we weren’t able to get in. Given that I’m not going to be eating BBQ, (unless it’s BBQ tofu), I haven’t tried to go back since, but people say it’s good. Hatos Outside, (I guess outside central Tokyo is the meaning as the bar itself is unsurprisingly inside), twists the formula a bit, and perhaps given the location seems to be a bit quieter than I imagine Hatos Bar is. Here’s what you need to know.

- Modern looking place with a counter for seven and tables for ten, but more spacious than that sounds, with plenty of space in between the tables and the bar. Concrete and wood in full effect, but it’s nicely done and felt quite comfortable. Quite a hip feel to it. Using the word ‘hip’ has probably told you just how unhip I am, so read into that observation what you want.
- Five taps of imported beer, dominated by Gigantic who they have some kind of connection with. There was also one tap of Upright on, which is nice to see. Prices are not cheap, but these are beers that you don’t see so often I guess. US pints were ¥1300, halves ¥700. The prices were the same for all beers regardless of the strength. Big fridge of bottles and cans from a variety of Portland area breweries. Once again, a lot of stuff you don’t see so often. Prices varied considerably but started from ¥700 and went up to the moon. But there’s plenty of exciting looking beers in there. Thankfully, tax is included in these prices.
- Has curry as their food speciality. Think there were three types available but didn't try them. And there were cocktails too. There’s no cover charge and it’s no smoking. There’s daytime opening at lunchtime, but they do close mid afternoon on weekdays.

To be honest, I’ve avoided going to the original Hatos since my first unsuccessful attempt to visit. It seemed a bit too lively and packed for me and given that the main draw was the BBQ, it was never likely to be up my street really. I wouldn’t say the same about Hatos Outside. If money were no object I’d be there often I think, as the atmosphere was nice and the beer selection great. The prices mean that for me, it’s more likely to be a once in a while visit rather than regular patronage. The location is also probably a problem for some but it’s only a short walk from Shimo Takaido station and as I often find myself on the Keio line, I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself back here sooner or later.


Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Friday, 12:00-15:00, 18:00-24:00
Saturday, 12:00-24:00
Sunday & holidays, 12:00-22:00
Closed Monday

Location/Map:
赤堤4-22-5, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6265-8351
 

Links:
Facebook
Website  

Monday, 16 July 2018

Hitachino Brewing Mito


Today, another place visited whilst on a football away trip. I've been here a couple of times before when it was known as True Brew. The concept has changed a little since those visits. It was a great place to stop off on the way to, or on the way back from the Hitachino Nest brewery, given that it's basically in the shopping centre attached to Mito station. Last time I visited the brewery, (to do the brew on site thing they offer, which is pretty fun), it was quite noticeable that the actual bar area on the brewery premises was pretty small. I'm not sure if this is still the case, but the transformation of True Brew into Hitachino Brewing Mito might be their solution to this problem. There were always a lot of Nest beers available at True Brew, but now the place is exclusively Nest. The guest beers are gone and the Nest selection greatly expanded. Anyway, enough of this long introduction and on with what you need to know.

- Shopping centre bar, attached to the rail station, but not without charm. From certain angles you can forget you're in a shopping centre. Lots of tables and a couple of counter areas. Very convenient if you're coming or going by train. It's on the 4th floor of EXCEL Minami, so head up the escalators one floor from the station level and double back on yourself to find the bar.
- Nine taps of Nest beer available when we visited, including one special, their Brew Base WIPA. Most beers served in two sizes, glass (320ml) and pint (500ml), so a bit bigger than the sizes you find in Tokyo. The usual suspects are priced at ¥680 and ¥980. The stronger Belgian influenced stuff and the Amarillo Session IPA were ¥750 and ¥1080 and the WIPA was only available in the smaller size for ¥800. Reasonably priced I guess, but then again, it is their own bar! Big selection of bottles too, filling in the gaps in the range, priced at ¥800 each. There's also a beer flight, 3 x 150ml for ¥980, but I don't think you can choose your beers and they are three of the more common ones. Quite a few brewery goods too, glasses, T-shirts etc.
- No smoking and no cover charge. But also no wifi... Lots and lots of daytime opening if that's your thing.

If you're visiting Mito and you want to drink Nest beer this is clearly the place to go. It actually trumps the brewery as somewhere to drink their beers. But it probably would be a bit weird to travel all the way to Ibaraki for Hitachino Nest and then just go to the bar in the station. The selection is similarly sized to the Tokyo Brew Labs so you can save yourself a trip and go there instead if you're only interested in drinking the beers. But it's a perfect place to pair with a trip to the brewery or somewhere nice to wait for a train. Or possibly the train after the train you were initially planning to get.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Hitachino Nest

Opening Hours:
Daily, 11:00-22:00

Location/Map:
宮町1-7-31 水戸駅ビル エクセルみなみ 4F, Mito-shi, Ibaraki-ken



Telephone:
029-306-7575

Links:
Facebook
Website 

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Mikkeller Beer Celebration Tokyo


Today a quick post about an upcoming beer festival that has got quite a lot of people talking. Mikkeller are bringing their epic Beer Celebration festival to Tokyo for the first time in September and it looks like being something quite different from the beer festivals that we are used to in Japan. I’m not going to go into too much detail as all the information is available on either their facebook page or website. I’ll just give you a rundown on the format and what you can expect. Apologies if you are already well aware of this festival. There can’t be too many people who read this blog and haven’t heard about it. But there may be some who are not aware of the format and what they can expect to enjoy there.

- Two day festival on Sunday September 23rd and Monday September 24th (which is a holiday in case you were wondering). Split up into four three and a half hour long sessions. Tickets can be purchased for a particular session but you can also get a ticket for all four sessions, and one for all four sessions which also gives you 20 minutes early access to each session and a goodie bag, so there are plenty of options to consider. All tickets include your own tasting glass.
- Each session is all you can drink and will feature two unique beers from 40 breweries, many of which have never been seen in Japan before. For many people this is the real draw, as it’s an opportunity to try lots of rare beers from far-flung destinations in the US, Europe and Asia. Over the course of all four sessions there will be 320 different beers available. Good luck trying to get through all of those. Many beers will be flown in alongside their brewers who will also be attending. And there is a promise that the beers will be taken from the breweries ‘best and craziest’ offerings.
- There’ll also be a bottle shop, so that in the event that you’ve not had enough beer during the festival, you can take some home and continue the boozing.
- Large selection of food offerings from Mikkeller Tokyo’s favourite collaborators, including Sun 2 Diner, Good Hood Food, Sake Bozu, Sunshine Juice and Onibus Coffee.
- Held in central Tokyo at Meijijingu Gaien Softball ground. There will apparently be huge 6m tents in case the weather is not so nice.

I’ve added some links below so you can get some more information, regarding timings and pricing and that kind of thing. You can also check out the list of breweries involved. There’s going to be some amazing stuff there and it looks like it’s going to be a very special event. I’ve heard that there will be a pre-event party sometime in July at Mikkeller Tokyo if you need any more encouragement. I’ll post about that when I know more. Lovely!

Location/Map: 
道玄坂 2-19-11, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


Links:
Website
Facebook event page
Tickets
Brewery List
Food

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Beer Ma Kanda


Today a post about a fairly new branch for Beer Ma, who up till now have been mainly all about the Kita Senju area of Tokyo, but have now ventured further into the centre. This is great for me, as it feels a lot easier to go to a Kanda bottle shop and bar than a Kita Senju one. I say feels, as in reality, Kita Senju isn’t actually that far away, and it’s actually pretty convenient for me to get to. This branch will certainly be more accessible for tourists though (unless they are staying in Minami Senju as many people seem to be doing recently). There’s not a great deal of difference between this place and Beer Ma to be honest, so I’ll point you in the direction of that post here. But at the risk of boring you all by repeating myself, here’s what you need to know.

- Concrete and wood type new place split over three floors, the ground floor being the main bar area, the second floor being the bottle shop (with some standing tables and a couple of taps on beers on nitro) and the basement being the ‘goods’ area. I guess this means beer glasses, t-shirts, that kind of thing, but it was closed when I visited so can’t be sure. Like the Kita Senju place, this is also standing only, so I’m guessing they don’t expect people to hang around too long.
- Ground floor has eight taps, usually split 5/3 between imported beers and Japanese stuff. The imports usually tend to be from the US but I have spotted Belgian and Danish stuff too, plus the occasional Brewdog. Second floor has the unusual selling point of having two more beers available, but this time on nitro. This is the first time I’ve seen this in Japan I think. Not sure I’ve seen it in the UK either actually. Beers on the ground floor are served in three sizes, priced as follows: L (400ml) - ¥1000-¥1200, M (324ml) - ¥900-¥1100 and S (265ml) - ¥700-¥900. The second floor stuff seems to be only served in the large size. Taplist is posted daily on their facebook.
- There is also a huge bottle selection (800 beers apparently) available to take away or drink on site. To drink in the bar you pay a small corkage fee, which I seem to remember was ¥200 for a normal sized bottle and ¥200 per glass for a large bottle. Selection size is similar to Beer Ma and less than Beer Ma Base as you’d expect.
- No cover charge, no smoking and a tiny little bit of daytime opening.

I only paid a quick visit to pick up some bottles and that was a few weeks ago so may have forgotten some of the details. Beer Ma branches are right up there as some of the best places to buy bottles to take away in Tokyo. The prices are reasonable and the selection is great. The tap prices and selection are less exciting with the unusual sizes disguising what are a bit higher than usual prices. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever actually had anything on tap in their places as there is always more interesting stuff in the fridges. The nitro taps are a unique feature too. As I haven’t actually had a beer here yet, I won’t comment on the atmosphere, but this has to go down as a pretty good place to drink based on selection alone. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll definitely try to check it out and report back here.



Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Johana
Minoh
Far Yeast
Ise Kadoya
Oni Densetsu

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, 16:00-23:00
Sunday, 16:00-21:00

Location/Map:
鍛冶町1-6-4, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-3527-1900

Links:
Facebook

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Inazuma Dining


Today, another relatively new brewpub and, as seems to have been the case recently, one which has actually managed to start brewing. Still waiting for the Watering Hole to do so six years on! I think I constantly gripe about Roppongi on here and I have to say that my opinions on the area haven’t changed. But being invited for a beer by a friend at Inazuma gave me the perfect opportunity to tick it and Fujizakura off in one go. Great! Now just the remaining 200 or so bars on the backlog to deal with. Anyway, here’s what you need to know.

- Basement bar, below the street level brewery. Pretty small place with a small counter for five or six and tables for maybe 12 more. Fairly classy feel to it, but maybe I was given that impression by the food, which had an Italian feel, was pretty snazzily presented and was also pretty nice.
- Ten taps, eight of which were on when we visited. Three of them were their own beers, with the others being a mix of Japanese craft and US imports. All beers were served in one size only. Unfortunately, I have left it too long between visiting and writing this, so can’t really give an accurate estimate of the size, but I remember it being somewhere between US pint and half. If I’m going to have a stab in the dark, I’d say a little over 300ml. Their beers were priced from ¥750-¥800. The Japanese guests (including the never before seen Shiki!) ranged from ¥880-¥980 and the US imports were from ¥980-¥1080. Given my lack of certainty over the size of the servings I can’t really speak for the value, but the US ones, which were an imperial stout and a triple IPA, seemed pretty reasonable. One thing though, tax is added at the end, so it’s actually a little more than I suggested above. They also have a bottle selection with some Belgian stuff. Didn’t see the prices though. Oh, and they post their taplist on facebook if you want to check out what they have before you visit.
- Suprisingly, no cover charge. The place is also no smoking. Two things I’m all in favour of.

So there you have it. It was good to get to try another new brewery and it was good to see Shiki available for the first time. I wonder if there is some kind of connection between Inazuma and them. The location is a minus for me, but that’s just me, and it will probably be a plus for some. And, depending on your point of view, the other potential plus point is that you can only get Inazuma beer here. Their guests were pretty interesting too. The Daisen Barley wine and Knee Deep were very nice. Not sure when I will be making me way back there, but I’m always in favour of people starting new breweries and giving it a go, rather than starting a new bar with nothing original about it.


Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Inazuma

Shiki
Marca
Daisen

Opening Hours:
Monday, 18:00-23:15
Tuesday-Friday, 11:30-14:30, 18:00-23:15
Saturday & holidays, 14:00-23:15
Closed Sunday

Location/Map:
六本木 3-6-9, Minato-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6441-2802

Links:
Facebook
Website

Friday, 15 June 2018

Beer Bar Fujizakura Roppongi


Sorry about the photo... Today a place that I’ve always fancied going to but have been put off by the location and the cost. Fujizakura always seem to make very nice beers and they are a brewery I always head for at Keyaki to try their new seasonals so I was pleased when I heard they were opening a Tokyo tap room and happy I finally made it there, late on a Friday night. Here’s what you need to know.

- Very fancy place, designed with a higher end crowd in mind. Looks much more like a classy Japanese restaurant rather than a beer bar with smartly dressed staff and a long counter for around 14. A couple of other tables for two in the main bar area and five private rooms where you pay an extra ¥500 charge for the privilege. Seems a bit sneaky that if you are in a group of more than two, you’ll either be sitting in a line along the counter or will have to pay extra in order to be able to talk to your companions.
- 10 taps on when I visited, four of their regular beers, two seasonals and four Japanese craft guests (Baird, Shiga, Oni Densetsu, Kyoto). Fujizakura regulars are served in three sizes, M (350-300ml, ¥700), L (400-500ml, ¥1000) and LL (1000ml, ¥1900). Seasonals are a little more expensive, ¥800 for the M and ¥1150 for the L. Guests are all priced the same, M being ¥800 for 285ml and L being ¥1150 for 400ml. So it’s not the cheapest place around. Add on the ¥300 cover charge too. They also have a beer flight of 4 x 200ml for ¥2000. Not sure if you can choose which beers make up the flight, but it seems to be Fujizakura beers only.
- No smoking establishment and does some daytime opening on Saturday. Seemed pretty busy even when we went there late on a Friday so if you’re determined to visit you should probably consider booking.

So, there you have it. The pricing is a bit of a let down for me. You can get their beers in plenty of other places and pay significantly less for them. If you’re visiting from overseas and are a fan of German style beers this would be a very nice place to consume some of the best German style Japanese beers. The decor and atmosphere would probably be a lot more exciting for tourists too. A friend said this is an excellent place for a business dinner and I can totally see that, but as I am practically the polar opposite of a businessman, that’s not really an issue for me. But I’m glad I finally managed to visit as it seemed somehow like something I needed to tick off. Mission accomplished!


Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Fujizakura

Shiga Kogen
Kyoto
Oni Densetsu
Baird

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-00:30
Saturday, 15:00-00:30
Closed Sunday

Location/Map:
六本木 4-8-7, B1F, Minato-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5411-3333

Links:
Facebook
Website

Friday, 4 May 2018

Brewery & Restaurant Carvaan


I've been losing touch recently with all the new places that are opening. Keeping this blog completely up to date would require a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of health. To be honest, I'm probably lacking in all three of these. Therefore, now I have to rely on tips from ultra underground sources to discover new places. Ultra underground sources like the Japan Beer Times (hehe), who recently published a big article about this place which had apparently appeared out of nowhere (maybe not, if you were paying proper attention). The fancy article and the size and design of this place suggest that there is quite a bit of money behind this new brewery. I'm not sure what kind of reputation the city of Hanno has, but this place seems to be aiming for a rather sophisticated crowd with three opening periods, the usual lunch and dinner and the not so common 'afternoon tea'. Anyway, here's what you need to know.

- Big, big place and fancy. Looks new and swish. Too many seats to count, but there's a few seats at the bar which suggests you'd be ok popping in just for beer when they're doing restaurant stuff. Nice patio overlooking a gorge (I think. It has a river at the bottom at least, so I think that's what you'd call it). Feels like you're in the countryside on the patio. Inside, it feels like you're in a fancy restaurant. I'd say this place is mainly intended for dining, but if they're making beer, I'd say that also means they want people to come and drink it. Food is loosely middle eastern themed. Maybe it would be better described as 'ethnic' as there were dishes from all over Asia and some from Africa. I guess this is because of the business of the parent company.
- Five taps of their own beer available. There seems to be four regulars, a Belgian white, spelt weizen, cacao stout and lime ale. The seasonal on our visit was a dry hopped version of the lime ale as their IPA had just finished. The staff seemed keen to describe the beers in detail, so I'd say that they're taking the beer part seriously. All beers were ¥750 and served in a Teku style glass. I'd guess that maybe the servings were around 300-350ml. Beer flight is also available for ¥1600 where you get their four regulars in servings of what I guess is 175-200ml (after some measuring with a similar sized glass at home). They were happy to swap in the seasonal too which was nice. As our bill wasn't a round number, I'm guessing tax is added at the till. I took the receipt to check and lost it on the way home.
- No smoking, no cover charge and daytime opening. Nice!

This place had me a little confused. It's very fancy, (as I realise I keep saying), and seems to have had a huge amount of money invested in it. Whether we will see their beers appearing in other places, I'm not sure but this is a pretty nice place to visit to try them. It's a little walk (about 10 minutes) from Hanno station, which let's be honest, isn't the most metropolitan of locations, but in exchange for this travel you do get some nice views and an experience which you don't find in Tokyo very often. The beers contain similar 'exotic' ingredients to the food served, which might make them a bit controversial for some, but if you are interested in trying them, this really is the place to come, especially if you visit on a nice day and can sit outside.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Carvaan


Opening Hours:
Daily, 11:30-23:00
(This is split up into lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Not sure how much difference this makes if you just want to go and drink the beer though. Might be worth giving them a call if you're worried).

Location/Map:
大河原32-1, Hanno-shi, Saitama-ken



If you approach on foot via the bridge, look out for this




















Telephone:
042-973-7000

Links:
Facebook
Website