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

Monday, 23 April 2018

Riot Beer


A quick post today on another new brewery. There really have been quite a few of them opening recently. Once again, I've jumped the gun by going before they have actually started brewing, so will revisit and update this post when they do. Here's what you need to know.

- Small bar area with counter seats for three or four, another small counter for two maybe and one high table. At the time of my visit they'd only been open a couple of weeks, so the decor is quite bare, but it looked like there would soon be an impressive picture on the wall, judging by the pencil marks. Their website and facebook are quite distinctively themed, so I'm guessing they'll be doing something similar in the bar. Brewery area is behind the bar.
- Ten taps, but only five were on when we visited. I guess this is due to them not having their own beer yet and the fact that the opening hours are limited. All beers were priced at ¥800 and in one size. It was a bit of an unusual glass shape, so I'm not sure what size it was. I'd guess around 300ml. Tax is included in the price. The breweries on offer included a few I'd never seen around before so there's something new here for brewery tickers. There are also some bar snacks available that looked quite nice.
- No smoking, no cover charge and at the moment at least, they have daytime opening. Hooray!

As I said above, I probably should have waited a little and added this place when they were fully up and running, but I couldn't help myself. Perhaps it was just because they have just opened or due to the lack of places in the area, but there were quite a few people who were popping in for a few. I'm sure that this will only increase when they start brewing their own beer which I believe will be quite soon. I look forward to popping back and trying them.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Ugo

Tanegashima
Baird 
Distant Shores 
Minoh

Opening Hours:
Probably best to check their facebook. Don't seem to have fixed hours at the moment, but it looks like it's something like 15:00-21:00

Location/Map:
5-11-10, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
050-5809-9387

Links:
Facebook
Website
Twitter

Saturday, 7 April 2018

TDM 1874 Brewery


This may just be the fastest turn around ever from visiting somewhere and putting it on here. I finally managed to make it to TDM this lunchtime. It should have been sooner as I’ve been hearing plenty of good things about their beers, but I guess I am still officially on hiatus so I’m going to use that as an excuse. I’d heard it’s not very easy to get to, but I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s only a short walk, (less than 10 minutes) from Tokaichiba station, which is still in Yokohama city, in spite of it feeling like it is somewhere a bit more rural. Here’s what you need to know.

- Brewery, taproom and beer (and other alcoholic beverages) shop, all in one. It’s a fancy looking place and given that it’s only been open about a year, pretty new. There is a room for two at the counter and tables for maybe 20 more. Place your order and pay at the till and then collect your drinks at the bar. At least that was how it was working when we were there. Selection of pub food available including pizzas. I should have had one, but I’d already eaten two lunches (don’t ask…).
- Five taps of beer but one of them is Asahi so I’m going to ignore that one. The other four were unsurprisingly their own beers. When we visited these were the Pale Ale, Whoa-saic, 7 Hop DIPA and Brown Porter. The beers are served in two sizes (473ml and 284ml) and the prices are very good, ranging from ¥740-¥850 for the pint and ¥450-¥520 for the half. Tax is added on at the till but these prices are still very good value.
- Beer shop has a variety of bottles available from various breweries including Aqula, Baird, Shiga Kogen, Dogo, Fujizakura, Minoh and possibly some others that I’ve forgotten. These all seemed to be priced around ¥500. They also had a couple of their own beers to take away at the same price. There is also a large wine and sake selection. And probably some other stuff too.
- No cover charge, no smoking, wifi and daytime opening at the weekend. The hours below are for the bar. The beer shop section seems to be open earlier (from 11:00), but if you’re making the effort to come here, you really should do it when you are able to enjoy some beers.

So, that’s about it. Don’t be put of by the location. From West Tokyo it’s probably not much further than traveling up to Kita Senju for Beer Ma. It’s nice to see another new brewery (although by the time I finally got round to writing this, I guess it wasn’t so new any more) and by the look of the place you can see that they are serious about what they are doing here.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
TDM 1874


Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-22:00
Saturday & Sunday, 12:00-22:00

Location/Map:
十日市場町 835-1, Midori-ku, Yokohama



Telephone:
045-985-4955

Links:
Facebook
Website

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Brief Nagoya intermission, part 4: Beer Pub Brick Lane


I recently found myself back in Nagoya for football and took the opportunity to visit a new place to put on here. Brick Lane probably makes most Brits think of the East End of London and curry, but this is a different kind of Brick Lane which focuses on burgers and, for the most part, imported beers. Here's what you need to know:

- Nice relaxed feel to the place, with the kind of modern beer bar decor you would expect. Counter for eight, tables for 12 more. Beer menus on many different walls so consequently you see lots of people staring intently in different directions which is quite fun.
- Nine taps of mostly imported craft beers. There were two taps of Japanese stuff on when we visited, one from Shiga and one from AJB. Beers are served in one size, but how big that is, I don't know, I'm afraid. They come in what looks like a tumbler on a stem. Never seen a glass shaped like that before, so it was quite interesting. If I had to guess, I'd say it's maybe 350ml, but that's just a stab in the dark really. Beers are priced at either ¥1100 or ¥1200. Without knowing the size, it's tricky to say if this is good value or not. They also do beer flights; 4 x 100ml of your choice for ¥1400. This is a good option as quite a lot of the beers were pretty strong and the kind of styles that you might not want to drink large servings of if you have to wake up before noon the next day. Tax is added at the end, so bear in mind that you'll be paying a bit more, (8%), than the advertised price.
- Their food speciality is burgers but aside from them they have Japanese and US menus of other pub food alternating daily. The portions were pretty good and the food tasted great (especially after a win in the football game).
- No cover charge, no smoking, daytime opening and WiFi, so all bases covered in that respect.

Sure, this probably isn't the cheapest place around, but the beer selection was interesting and the place had a really nice feel to it. They definitely seem to be US beer fans, judging by the menu and the various items of beer paraphernalia spread around the bar. The big reason we went there was that they were open till midnight on Sunday night, which seems to be something of a rarity in this area of Nagoya. But, I was really glad we did and would definitely go back next time we're in town. Also, it's conveniently close to Y Market, so perfect for a mini pub crawl.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
AJB

Shiga Kogen

Opening Hours:
Daily, 14:00-24:00

Location/Map:
錦1-7-27, Naka-ku, Nagoya



Telephone:
052-212-7088

Links:
Website
Facebook

Friday, 2 March 2018

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 9: Ginza area

I've done Higashi Ginza and Ginza Itchome and now have finally made it to Ginza proper.

Ginza Nagano


It’s another Nagano place and can’t really compete with Shinshu Sake Mura for all round excellence, but does offer a few breweries and a small drinking section at front (one tap of beer, I think). They had a few varieties from the slightly suspicious Karuizawa brewery from ¥267 a can, one Shiga Kogen beer (¥354), five types of Oh La Ho (¥248) and three Enrei beers, apparently by Tirol No Mori (¥500¥). Beware, as tax is added to all of these prices at the till. They also have some nice Nagano ciders and Sakes. It’s definitely more of a shopping destination than a drinking one. If you want to do that, better head to Shinshu Sake Mura I reckon. But if you’re in Ginza and want to pick up some beers to take home, here you go.

Opening hours
10.00-20.00 daily

Location/Map
銀座 5-6-5, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061



Links:
Website