Friday, 19 May 2023

New inclusion and posting criteria

This is a quick post to go some way towards explaining my reasons for including or excluding places on here. This post should hopefully remain at the top so if it's posts about bars you're after, scroll down. Going forward, the following will get full write ups as soon as I get round to visiting them:

- Breweries
- Bars and beer shops that are either great, good, ok or in some way unique or interesting.

Bars that are not so exciting or that I have a problem with (and I’m happy to acknowledge that the problem is mine), will probably feature on one of the digest posts. Usually these are to collect places that I haven’t visited yet, but now I’ll also put places I’ve been to that aren’t very good on there too. On the map, unvisited places will be marked with a question mark so you take your chances by going to one of these. All visited places will now have the appropriate coloured pin and be linked to the appropriate post, so if you see a pin and it goes to a digest post, it’s not really a recommendation. I'd always encourage you, if you're finding places on here through the map to actually check out the post linked to the pin in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Favourites will still be marked with a star and also feature in the top group of places in the map notes. Inevitably, there are some places that probably aren’t worthy of a full post in here that already have full posts. I’m not going to remove these posts and put them on the digest post as I can’t be bothered to! The content of the post should give you an idea anyway. Hope all this helps!

Friday, 30 October 2020

Craft Beer Bar iBrew Ebisu


A quick post today about what I think is the most recent of the iBrew bars to open. I have to admit, until I went here I had the impression that this was the same place as TBE Brewing, which I thought was a bit more expensive iBrew branch. Now I have no idea if it’s connected or not but there seems to be no mention of it on the iBrew website so I guess I was just wrong. Anyway, you know what you’re getting with iBrew. Cheap beers, decent food and recently, lots and lots of taps. I should go to these places more often as there’s always something nice to drink here and the prices are very reasonable. Actually, more than reasonable! As I haven’t been to an iBrew in a little while I can’t be sure if all of them offer what this place does, so instead of doing my usual thing of saying check the other posts for details, I’ll try and give some more info here instead. Still pretty concisely though as I am still a bit lazy about doing these posts. Oh, sorry for another horrible photo, but you know, if I'm taking photos of entrances, I sometimes don't have much to work with. Here’s what you need to know:

- Decor seems a bit different from other iBrews I have been to. Big heavy looking metal door which suggests you might be about to enter some kind of nightclub. Perhaps the interior suggests that this place used to be something like that. Lots of seats spread around, maybe 30 or 40 and a counter too. We sat in a kind of side area on what seemed like deckchairs. It was more confortable than I’ve made that sound.
- Counting the taps in the photo on their website they seem to have 47! Not sure all of them are always on though but there was a pretty big selection when we were there. Beers are divided into two tiers, ‘Limited Select Beer’ which basically means imported stuff with some more exclusive Japanese stuff and ‘Basic Select Beer’ which is mainly Japanese but with some cheaper imports included too. Taplists are available online so you can check them out before you go. The higher tier is priced ¥690 for 270ml and ¥990 for 470ml. The regular tier is ¥390 for 270ml and ¥690 for 470ml. All prices have tax added on afterwards so be aware of this. The lower tier is really great value. They also do beer flights for both tiers. You can choose either 3, 5 or 10 beers from one of the tiers. The higher tier prices are priced at ¥990 (for 3 beers), ¥1590 (for 5) and ¥2990 (for 10) and the lower one is ¥690, ¥1090 and ¥1990. Not sure about the glass sizes but still seems like pretty good value.
- No cover charge, which is great. WiFi too. And lots of daytime opening! What’s not to like? Beware that they only accept cash though. It’s quite tricky to spend a lot of money here though so you won’t need a load of cash on you unless you're in for a serious session or very hungry. Pretty sure it’s no smoking as since the change in the law most places are. Not 100% sure what the rules are about that though so I’ll keep mentioning it on these posts as long as I’m unsure. The food is good too, kind of standard pub fare, but I liked it and it’s probably what you want when you’re drinking. At least I do anyway.

So, pretty similar to the other iBrews as far as I can remember but things change quickly so I can’t be sure. The pricing here is pretty great and as I said they always seem to have some interesting stuff on. The fact that this place is in the basement means that it might not be as nice a place to spend a long session in if you’re a fan of looking our the window and watching the world pass by. But it is in Ebisu, so quite a bit further west than most of the branches, so if you are in that area of Tokyo it’s convenient. And it's very close to the station too. The daytime opening is great. I really should take advantage of this sometime. Guess there’s not much else to say, as anyone who’s been to an iBrew probably knows what to expect. Oh, one last thing. The photo above shows one of the entrances but there is another one the other side of the building. And when you enter go down the stairs for two floors. The middle B1 floor looked pretty desolate on a weekend afternoon but persevere and you'll reach this weird looking door.


 

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
West Coast
Romantic Mura
Fujizakura
Ise Kadoya
Zumona
Bear Meets Beer
Sennan
Minami Shinshu
Ushi Tora
Distant Shores
Y Market
Kinshachi
Tazawako
Kyoto
Nomcraft
Tainai Kogen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday 13:00-23:30
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:30-23:30

Location/map:
恵比寿南 1-8-1 STM恵比寿ビルB2F, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


 

Telephone:
03-6451-2048

Links:
Website
Facebook

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Shizuoka Round Up

In the past I've grouped bars together in one post for cities that are a bit outside what would usually be considered the Tokyo Beer Drinker remit. I then separated them painstakingly having decided that way would be better. A recent trip to Shizuoka has convinced me that the former was better so here is an in no way complete or exhaustive Shizuoka digest post. There are so many new places in Shizuoka that there is no way I can do them justice so instead of halfheartedly writing crappy posts for all of the places, I'll halfheartedly write a digest post and collect them in one place, basically giving you the same amount of info but saving myself some work. It's all getting a bit half-arsed on this blog, isn't it? Oh well, at least I'm still sort of trying. Three Hamamatsu places already have their own separate posts and it seems stupid to combine them into this, so they will remain where they are. You can see them using the Hamamatsu tag here but I'll list them and link to the posts separately below. Same for one Shizuoka city and one Kakegawa place. One other Hamamatsu place and a few other Shizuoka places have moved from Digest post four to this one so they are in a slightly different format. More places will be added as and when. Possibly. There are at least two Baird places that are not on here yet, but I guess they're pretty famous anyway. This all really smacks of total indifference doesn't it? I apologise. So here you go, a brief write up of some Shizuoka places the location of which you can check out on the Tokyo Beer Drinker map. Places are divided loosely by city/Shinkansen station. Oh, and there's a Shizuoka Craft Beer Map available, so I'd pick up one of those as soon as you can as it's really useful. You can view it online here. Cheers!


Shizuoka City


Aoi Beer Stand
Pretty small place, which contrary to the name is mainly some seats at the counter. I think there was a small standing area too though. Six taps of their own beer on tap. Think they have quite a few places in town, but this seemed like the easiest to just pop in to in the daytime.
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Aoi Brewing Cafe
Aoi's beer cafe in the station so if you want to drink their beers you don't even need to leave the building after getting off the train. They had 8 taps, so more than the Beer Stand and also serve food from 10am so it is an option for breakfast if that's your thing.
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Baird Gofukucho Taproom
(Was Biru No Yokota, now a Baird taproom, very little if nothing has changed)
Visited here recently. Big place with big reasonably priced taplist, (15 taps, mostly Baird, mostly around ¥1000 a US pint). Seems to have a strong Baird connection as a few places in Shizuoka do. Order at the bar and pay as you go. If you are a fan of Baird beer, they have a special house beer made by them here for you to try.
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Beer Owle


Pretty new bottle shop with ten taps for growler fills (and a bit of on site imbibing too) and quite a few fridges of bottles and cans. Mainly has imported stuff from the US and Canada but has some other countries' stuff and one fridge worth of local beers, leaning heavily on West Coast Brewing but with some Numazu and Kakegawa thrown in. You can probably get WCB stuff here that you can't get elsewhere. Lots of nice memorabilia too. Run by a very friendly and helpful guy. Cheers! 
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Craft Beer Station
Visited here recently as it had some beers from Octagon, a Shizuoka brewery you don't see around very often. Pretty expensive place with six taps, mostly Japanese. Prices went up to ¥1500 for a US pint! Bottles and cans in the fridge too. Quite small. Perhaps in the past I would have done a full post for this place, but to be honest, it probably doesn't really deserve one.
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Fiesta Garcia
See full post here

Golden Nectar
US / Mexican food and mainly US imported beers too. A big favorite of a friend of mine but I couldn't find much on either the food or the beer menu for me. But I am a vegetarian and a bit fussy too so it's probably my fault. Eight taps and a small fridge of bottle and cans.

HUGHOP
Trendy and young feel to this place. Maybe a bit noisy for some but surprisingly I found it quite fun. Weren't many taps on when we were there but they apparently usually have a mix of 10 imported and Japanese craft beers so maybe we were just unlucky.

12 to go
Bottle shop just down the street from the main West Coast Brewing taproom 12. Some taps for growler fills and a lot of fridges with mainly imported beers and a couple of fridges of West Coast Brewing cans. Beware though, as many of them sell out fast so if you see them anywhere and you want them you should probably buy them there and then. When we visited they only had one WCB beer in stock!

12 - Twelve


The city centre taproom of West Coast Brewing. Nice open bar with plenty of seating. Serves food and beers and had, (I think), 20 taps, mixed between West Coast stuff and US imports. The West Coast place you should go if you're planning on spending any amount of time as it's more comfortable than the other places. 

WCB Container


A shipping container converted into a little bar with around five taps of West Coast Brewing and some cans too. Some seating at the counter and a bit of standing in the bit near the seats. Not sure what will happen when it gets colder as it's quite open but I'm sure they have a plan.

West Coast Brewing Taproom - Mochimune


Two stops from Shizuoka station and a  little walk from Mochimune station. Situated in a port building next to an Onsen if that's your thing. Ten taps but quite a few weren't on when we went. They also sell cans to take away, but again there was only one beer in stock. You've got to be fast evidently. Or maybe we were unlucky again. If you enjoy looking at brewing equipment through a window this is the place for you, but you most likely won't get anything that you couldn't get in the bars in the city centre. Nice feel to it though. Limited capacity but the customer turnover seems to be quite quick, so if you arrive and it's busy, you might be alright after having a little walk round the port.


Atami


Craft Beer Cafe


Newly opened craft beer cafe situated above the one craft beer restaurant in Atami that was a bit too meaty for me to bother going to. Small but somehow spacious (if that makes sense) with a small counter and a few tables spread around. 10 taps of Japanese craft, maybe half Shizuoka and half from further afield. Only popped in but would have liked to have stayed longer. Did think I kept hearing a robot voice here but was told I was imagining it. Think my companion was trying to convince me I am losing my mind. Or maybe I am.

Hamamatsu


Mein Schloss

Octagon Brewing - Hamamatsu
Brewery with some guest taps. 10 taps in total, roughly half their own and the guests are mainly US imports. No ideas about prices and when I tried their beer in Shizuoka city, it wasn’t the best experience, but will give them another go next time I’m in Hamamatsu.

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Shinnosuke O

Tir Na n-Og


Kakegawa


Bucket HERE / Kakegawa Farm Brewing


Mishima / Numazu


Beer Field - Mishima
Numazu Craft's taproom somewhat confusingly in nearby Mishima. They have a brewery taproom in Numazu too but this place was open later and sounded more comfortable so we went here. Long counter and small back room with some tables. Ten taps, six of which were their own. ¥900 pints of their beers and beer flight option too. Mix of Shimzu S Pulse and Liverpool football memorabilia. Food too if you're up for eating. Real local bar feel.

Repubrew - Numazu


Spacious underground bar and restaurant with plenty of seating but was pretty popular when we visited. A massive twenty taps of their own beer, some of which were really nice and some of which were less nice. Decent range of styles. Pub food available too and that was good. Was surprised how swish this place was. They clearly seem to know what they're doing from a hospitality point of view. Quite fun! They also now have a new bar in Mishima nearer the Shinkansen stop serving their beer and sliders if that's more your thing.


Friday, 25 September 2020

Mangosteen


Today a very brief post on a new booze shop in Setagaya. Mangosteen seems to focus on Mezcal and Tequila but has some beers too. It's situated in between Shimokitazawa and Sangenjaya, a bit like Small World is, but is just a little closer to Shimokitazawa than Small World is. It's also not far from Awashima Soko. I'm going to avoid the usual bullet points because I don't have a great deal to say about this place so will instead cram it all into one paragraph. They have three fridges of craft beers, mostly imported (mostly North American as far as I could see),  but with some Japanese stuff too. Breweries I spotted included Uchu, Yorocco, Hatos and 2nd Story so you can see we're on the kind of trendy side of things. They also had one tap of Izumi beer available to drink on site or take away. It was ¥500 for a plastic cup of a version of an Izumi beer I'd never seen before. Not sure though if this is a regular thing or something special. There was a counter and some other seats available. And as I mentioned above there were loads of other types of booze here. Beer is only a small part of the whole picture but it's the part we are interested in. They also do food (they have a big flag outside saying deli), and they have wifi. But smoking seems to be ok. The atmosphere seemed quite up market. I didn't feel particularly relaxed here as a sweaty old man. But that's mainly down to me really, I think. I'm probably not their intended clientele though as I'm not an imported NE IPA kind of guy. I'll go back though, mainly to pick up Yorocco cans when I'm on my way to Small World. 


Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Izumi

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday, 15:00-23:00
Closed Monday

Location/Map:
代沢 4-29-14, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6413-8819

Links:
Instagram

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Bucket


A quick post today on a recently opened place in Musashi Kosugi. Bucket is a cafe that also serves craft beer rather than being a craft beer cafe if you know what I mean. Perhaps it could be more easily described as a coffee and craft beer place which to be fair is exactly how they do describe it. One big benefit of the coffee shop side of the business is the fact that there is daytime opening. I'm still not sure how popular daytime boozing is in Japan, particularly amongst Japanese people, but given that in this modern world we all work at different times, it's very nice to still have the option of drinking beer in the daytime even if your days off are not the weekend. Anyway, here's what you need to know about Bucket:

- Nice and comfortable new place not far from Musashi Kosugi station a few doors closer than McCanns and across the road from Charbro, another newly opened place that I guess I should visit and put on here soon (but Charbro is a meaty food place, so maybe that's not completely up my street). Long counter for maybe 10 and a big bench seat along the opposite wall with small tables for maybe the same amount. There's also a regular table for four near the front window. 
- Six taps of beer, which seem to be three domestic craft and three US imports. Not sure if this will always be the case, but that's what it looks like so far. Beer served in half and pint (US). Prices ranged from ¥750-¥1050 for the half and ¥1100 to ¥1400 for the pint. These ranges are skewed a bit by one imported beer which was more expensive. If you remove this from the calculations the top end is ¥900 and ¥1250 for half and pint respectively. Brewery choices seem decent, at least from what I've seen and by my taste. 
- No cover charge, no smoking and daytime opening. Couldn't find wifi, but it seems like the kind of place that would have it. (Now they do have it). I should also mention that alongside the beer which I've obviously focused on for this blog, they serve coffee till 17:00, have some nice looking bar snacks and also have wine, cocktails and soft drinks. 

This was a nice place to visit and definitely a nice place to pop in to during the day. There seem to be a lot of decent places in this area now which is great. They publish their tap list on facebook every day so you can check what they have on before popping in. I'll definitely be back as I often find myself in the area and it was a very enjoyable and relaxing experience when I went.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Craft Rock
Kyoto
Shiga Kogen

Opening Hours:
Daily 14:00-22:00
Closed Monday

Location/map:
新丸子東 2-926, Nakahara-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken


Telephone:
None

Monday, 13 July 2020

Mikkeller Kanda


Today, a post on the recently opened Mikkeller Kanda, burger restaurant and beer bar. It’s a bit of an unfortunate time to be opening a new business but Mikkeller seem to be making the best of it with a nice new place with an interesting layout and some very nice burgers. Well to be honest,  I can only really speak for the veggie burger, but it’s mere existence is something to be praised in itself and it was very tasty. Here’s what you need to know.

- Very close to Kanda JR station, literally a stone's through distance wise, although you’d have to throw the stone round a corner if you were really looking to live out the cliche. Bottom floor is the burger floor with one tap of beer and some bottles and cans and is open from lunchtime through to closing. Upstairs there is another bar and further up again some more seating. The decor is very unique and the stairs are extremely unique. Don’t focus too hard on the steep stairs as if you do, you’ll bang your head like I did. At the same time, don't focus too hard on not banging your head and neglect the stairs. Balance is the key!
- Main beer business is done on the middle floor. The drinking section of this place is open from 16:00 daily. They have 12 taps of mainly Mikkeller beers with a few imports. The bottom floor had their house beer on, which was made in collaboration with Devil Craft. A Mikkeller pint (400ml, I believe) of it was ¥950. Didn’t see prices upstairs but I’d imagine they are the same as the Shibuya bar. I didn't see any smaller servings offered but I'd imagine they are. If someone can let me know I'll update.
- No cover charge, no smoking, WiFi, daytime opening and really nice burgers. I had the lunch set which I think was ¥300 extra and had a really nice salad and some really unique chips/fried potatoes/wedges whatever you want to call them.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I like Mikkeller a lot so it will come as no surprise to find out that I like this place too. Next time I definitely want to go when the upstairs bar is open as I only was able to have a quick look at it rather than being able to settle down and enjoy it fully. So, if you’re coming here to drink lots of different beers you should probably make it after 16:00. But the fact that there is one tap on the ground floor means that it is perfect for popping in quickly for some food and a beer at lunchtime too. I really appreciate the fact that they have a veggie burger. Vegetarian options seem to be appearing in Japan recently but are still pretty rare in a place like this, so I’m delighted! Will definitely be back for another burger and some beers soon!


Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Devil Craft

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 12:00-22:30
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:30-22:30

内神田 3-21-2, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-5244-4903

Links:
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Cidernaut

Cidernaut is a relatively new bar near the heart of Shibuya, but is probably still slightly under the radar due to opening just before Coronavirus hit. It’s been a bad time for pretty much everyone I guess, but you’ve got to feel for people who started new hospitality related businesses this year. In spite of plenty of practice when I was a teenager, I’m not a cider drinking expert, so I’ll leave it to you to assess the quality of the ciders available and as usual give you the points that I think you need to know about this new place. So here they are:

- Not far along from Bunkamura along the Kamiyama shopping street in Shibuya, Cidernaut is a new, pretty spacious bar with a cider focus, providing something that I think is pretty unique in Tokyo. Given that we are still social distancing somewhat in Japan, I’m not sure if the seating situation will remain the same, but at the moment there are seats at the bar for five and tables for maybe 20 more. The doors open out onto Kamiyama street and I’d imagine that when / if things get back to normal, this would be a pretty popular place to hang out. 


- 11 taps, eight of cider and three of beer, two of which were Japanese craft and the other a UK import from an interesting brewery. As this is Tokyo Beer Drinker, I’ll only briefly gloss over the cider as I don’t know much about it, but there were imports from the US and the UK along with a couple of Japanese ciders. You can check their Facebook for a tap list (updated daily). Ciders and beers are served in three sizes, half, medium and pint. We had the medium and it was bigger than I expected from the name. I’d guess somewhere between 350-400ml but I’m not good at judging. This makes me think that the half and pint are probably UK measures, but this is just a guess. Prices ranged from ¥690-¥990 for the half, ¥990-¥1390 for the medium and ¥1190-¥1740. I can’t really comment on cider pricing, but I’d definitely have to say that the beers were definitely on the pricey side. But I guess you’re probably not going to come here just to drink beer are you? They also had some bottles and cans of cider available.


- There was no cover charge, but tax was not included in these prices which adds a bit more onto what was already quite high prices. I think given the location and the current situation it’s understandable that this isn’t a cheap place. The place is no smoking and they have some interesting sounding bagels as food. There didn’t seem to be a veggie one though. I couldn’t find wifi. They are open during the day (everyday from 15:00 I think but google says 12:00...), and it was quite nice to have a couple of ciders in a relatively empty bar in the daytime. This definitely says more about me than the bar though. I don’t know if cashless payment is a big thing yet, but if you’re interested, they take paypay. But if you don’t have a Japanese Apple store account, I don’t think you can download that app anyway so maybe this is all a waste of time to mention.


As I've said many times above, I’m nowhere near an expert on cider so I can’t really talk about that too much. I enjoyed coming here but perhaps the prices will be sightly off-putting for some. Approaching from a beer point of view, they are definitely high. The doors opening onto Kamiyama street made for a pleasant atmosphere on a reasonably warm day. The staff were nice and friendly and were able to give suggestions and tips about ciders. I feel that for me, it may be something like a Belgian bar in Tokyo experience, in that it’s not somewhere I’m going to go every week, but it is possibly a nice treat from time to time. But like I said, I’m a klutz when it comes to cider so maybe people who know more will have different opinions. As I always seem to say on here, it’s nice that somewhere new has something a little different about it, rather than being more of the same. I suspect that in these difficult financial times, the places that will survive will be the ones that offer something unique.


Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Yggdrasil
AJB

Opening Hours:
Daily 12:00-23:30 (but beware I have seen it say 15:00 in some places)

神山 16-4, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Telephone:
080-6934-5638

Links: