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
Facebook

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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
Facebook

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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:
Facebook
Twitter
Website
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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:
Twitter

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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!