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!

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:

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Loose ends/various places Part 6

This is part six of what will be constantly (I hope...) updated posts with brief descriptions of places that possibly deserve to be on here but which I have either no time or inclination to visit. Part one is here, part two here, three is here, four is here, and five is here, or you can view all of them by clicking the digest tag, or just clicking here. 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 and everything that opens will be on here. This is mainly intended for what I imagine to be a bit less interesting but still worth mentioning places or in some cases a bit of a warning.


Bakuya - Kanda

German beer bar with some German craft and some traditional German stuff. Prices seem high, but this is naturally all imported stuff on the eight taps. Unsurprisingly, German food too. Something of a unique proposition I guess, but maybe not one that is massively appealing to me given the pricing. 

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Beer Bar Tor - Yushima

Belgian beer bar up north in Tokyo. Bottle selection seems decent and the prices are probably what you’d expect to pay. About 40 beers on their website menu. Probably one for Belgian beer loving locals rather than somewhere to travel to.

Website


Beer Bulk J - Tama

Eight taps and about 20 bottles and cans. Tap beer seems dominated by 10 Ants and delving deeper into the internet (checking their web address), I can see that they seem to be linked to the brewery. Other draft is a mix of imports and domestic. Prices seem surprisingly reasonable. They do take out, but probably everybody does now because of Coronavirus. Whether that will continue afterwards, who knows?

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Beer Stand Toyoda - Toyoda

Looks pretty small, but ironically given the name seems to be all counter seating. Seems to be connected to the Ishikawa brewery/Tama No Megumi but there is limited evidence of beers served here that I can find so I’m just guessing. They have a ‘guest beer’ though, which suggests that the rest of the beers are not guests. But maybe there is only one other beer and that’s the Toyoda beer that Ishikawa makes. Anyway, let’s be honest, this is a long way out of central Tokyo so you’re probably only going to be going here if you’re in the area or ridiculously curious with plenty of free time. If you do go, please let us know what’s going on.

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Caliquors Tokyo - Kanda

Craft beer, natural wine and sake goes the slogan. Seems to be a shop rather than a bar but a little nose about on Untappd shows a tap list with eight choices and fairly reasonable prices, slightly weighted in favor of imports but with some very nice looking selections. Will have to check it out soon.

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Craft Beer Scissors - Ikejiri

Craft beer bar and bottle shop. Does delivery too. Ten taps of quite interesting stuff which seems pretty reasonably priced if the sizes are as the names suggest they are. And quite a few bottles and cans too (check the pictures on their website). Mix of imports and Japanese stuff. Growler fills too. Looks like standing only. Quite intriguing.

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Craft Company - Yotsuya
Medium sized place with a few tables. 12 taps with a variety of stuff on. Maybe… Their facebook is a bit low on detail when it comes to prices and beers. Sorry.

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The Day East Tokyo - Asakusa

Apparently a gastro pub but their slogan is 'craft beer good sausage' which suggests it’s not so gastro. The pictures make it look pretty fancy though. Another place with natural wines so I guess that’s becoming a thing here now.  Real mix of imported and domestic stuff checked in on their Untappd but no idea about prices.

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Exbar Tokyo - Ginza

Kind of expensive looking place to me, although they seem to have a lot of pub games and machines so maybe my image is a bit confused. Has some kind of pour it yourself beer machines rather than having you order from bar staff. Worryingly little information about the beer online, but I suppose it does bill itself as an amusement bar and grill so perhaps the beer isn’t the main thing. Seems mainly imports judging by Untappd. Would be tempted to try the beer pouring machines but I should probably admit to myself that as a grumpy old man it’s unlikely I will ever go here. But could be exciting for some.

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Folk Burgers & Beers - Jimbocho

Burger bar with beer. Untappd hints at some interesting beers and their website says small beers from ¥650. But this is ‘from’ so maybe expect it to be a bit more. No veggie burger for me, but that’s not a huge surprise and I’m not moaning about it. Meaty burgers look good, but then most burgers look good to me.

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Honeycomb And Hopworks - Ochiai
Very new brewery in a place with nothing on the map. They seem to have their own beers but as they are collaborations I suspect they were made at the collaborators breweries. Seems like they have eight taps but I also suspect that there aren’t that many on yet. Maybe one to give a bit of time before visiting. But I am intrigued.

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Ise Kadoya - Shinjuku

Very new! Situated high up in Takashimaya this is the second Ise Kadoya taproom after the one in Nihonbashi. I’m going to guess that it’s like that one which you can read about here. Perhaps the location is a bit more exciting this time though.

No website yet…


Kakurenbo - Kanazawa Bunko

Has been open for three years and I’d never heard about it till Beer Tengoku tipped me off. Around six taps of craft beer, mostly Japanese with an occasional cider too. Japanese selections are reasonably interesting and the pricing looks pretty normal too.

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Let’s Beer Works - Higashi Jujo

Another pretty new brewery (only up to their tenth beer so far, but at least they actually managed to start brewing, eh?). Eight taps of all their own stuff on. No idea about prices but the range of beer styles makes it look like somewhere worth having a look at.

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Number Nine Brewery / Quays Pacific Grill - Yokohama    

Another fancy new place in Yokohama. Quite food focussed but with their own brewery (and a gin distillery too, I think). Not sure where all this Yokohama fancy place money is coming from. Seem to have made quite a few different beers since they opened last year. But don’t publicize tap lists or prices it seems. Or anything apart from food really. I’ll try to go someday. By the way, there is apparently a convenience store in the same complex (Hammerhead), with a massive selection of domestic and imported craft beer too.

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Ryuda - Kita Sando
Craft beer bar with ten taps judging by photos but normally with five or six mostly US beers on. No smoking, quite small and seems to have a focus on Japanese food to go with those US beers. Nihonshu and wine too. Get the impression it might be quite expensive. And am put off by the fact that they seem to love the Watering Hole which I don’t. But this is just my opinion.

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Shiokaze Brew Stand Soga - Chiba

New brewery and taproom just opened out in Chiba close to Soga station. Brewer used to work at Baird and is now going it alone. Have heard the beers are very nice. 15 taps with plenty of their own beers and some Japanese and US guests. Prices look very good! Will have to get down here soon.

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Sakamichi Brewing - Tachikawa

Reasonably new brewery (I think, I’m really out of touch though…) out near Tachikawa. Eight taps and decent looking prices, although not sure about the sizes. Mostly Japanese guests at the moment with a couple of US imports and one of their own which suggests I was right about it being a new brewery. Seems to be run by some non-Japanese guys and there are some imported US beers available in cans and bottles. They do growler fills too. (MORE INFO, DIRECT FROM THE BREWERY BELOW IN THE COMMENTS)

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Taihu Tokyo - Kagurazaka
Tokyo taproom of the Taiwanese brewery of the same name. I have always enjoyed their beers (even the gimmicky ones) but not everyone I know has. Interesting to see imported beers from a new country! No idea about tap numbers or prices but there seem to be a few different beers being checked in on Untappd. Will try to go here soon to get some more information and therefore make this entry worthwhile as right now I’m not really telling you anything, am I?

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Friday, 13 March 2020

Le Shirakawa Yofune


Today a post about a place I stumbled on completely by accident on a recent trip to Nishiogikubo. I’m not sure if this place is at all well known. I can’t recall ever hearing about it but maybe that’s just me being out of touch. It’s funny, as before I went there I was lamenting the lack of craft beer places in Nishiogikubo. The Beer Kobo pub closed down and I was wondering why the other place I went to was no longer on my map. When I walked past and found it seems to now be a junk shop I guess I got my answer. Now there are so many beer places opening and closing that even the sad act of removing one from my map when it closes has become so commonplace that it is easily forgotten. I wonder perhaps if the current Coronavirus problems are going to give some more bars problems as people try to stay home. Obviously, if you are self-isolating, you’re not going to be going here soon, but you could at a later date. If you are still free and roaming, I’m sure there are a lot of places that could do with your custom right now. Anyway, here’s what you need to know.

- Medium sized pub/izakaya, tucked away a little off the street below a Mexican restaurant very near Nishiogikubo station. Funnily enough it was the Mexican restaurant that caught my eye and then I noticed I was standing next to the beer menu for this place. Inside behind the classy entrance blue curtain thingy, there are tables for maybe 20 and a counter for six. It felt like a place that is quite food focused but it was fine for me to just drink. There is a cover charge/otoshi of ¥300, but I was asked if I wanted it or not (perhaps as I had asked on entering if drinking only was ok). The master prepared something vegetarian for me and it was very nice! Their logo says craft beer and craft wine but I get the feeling that the food is also a big thing here. Sadly, I didn’t check the menu. Yeah, i know, I'm stupid. I was just thinking about the beer…
- 10 taps, but there were only seven taps of craft on when I was there. One was Malts and I guess the other two were not on. There was an interesting selection of Japanese breweries represented, with there being a few from Tohoku (and I did pick up a bit of a Tohoku theme going on) and one made just down the road by Oga (don’t think I’ve seen Oga on tap before but maybe I’m not going to the right places to find it). Generally speaking beers were served in two sizes, S (250ml) and L (450ml) priced at ¥700 for the S and ¥1100 for the L. The one exception was a Kyoto Brewing strong beer that was ¥800 for a ‘wine glass’. Bear in mind that tax is added at the end and you might have that otoshi too. In any case, the pricing is pretty reasonable I think. They had an Uchu bottle on the menu too if that's your kind of thing. Not sure if that was the only bottle available, but I didn’t spot any others mentioned anywhere else.
- No smoking, some daytime opening (for lunch, but closes mid afternoon).

I quite liked this place, and ended up staying longer than I had intended as I was supposed to be just popping in for a quick beer. The otoshi was really nice and I was very pleased I had it. Sometimes it’s a relief if I can actually eat the otoshi, so to have one that I actually enjoyed a lot was a very pleasant surprise. I thought the beer selection was pretty interesting too. It seems that they sometimes put their tap list on their Facebook page, but I’d say that you can probably rely on them having something good and interesting on, judging by my limited experience of one visit and a quick look at posted tap lists. I’d say I’ll be back there soon, but Nishiogikubo is a rarely visited area for me. But if you use the train, it’s not that far from Kichijoji and is very close to the station, so could easily be incorporated into some kind of Chuo line crawl if you're not bother by the otoshi. I used to talk about this pub crawl all the time and it used to pretty much mostly be Beer Kobo brewpubs, but I think now you could do it without visiting any of those, as there are interesting places near every station from Shinjuku to Kichijoji (and probably further if you did a bit of investigation). Regarding this place, it probably makes more sense to stay for a few though if you're paying for an otoshi. As I said, I don't know anything about the food, and as a vegetarian, it's almost certainly not good for me, but the considerate and helpful service makes me think that I would pop back if I were in the area. Cheers!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Oga
Y Market
Outsider
Uchu
Be Easy
Kyoto

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30-15:00, 17:30-00:00
Closed Monday

西荻南 3-15-13 高梨ビル1F, Suginami-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6875-4187

Links:

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Brewery links

I thought it made more sense to have all the brewery links on one post rather than clogging up the side bar. So here you are, links to all the breweries mentioned on here. Click on the name to be taken to what I reckon is their most useful online presence.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Cranc Beer


Today a little post on a brewery that I managed to go to on the second time of asking. Cranc is out in Itabashi, not too far away from Tokyo Aleworks. They are quite different places though in most aspects. As I probably said in the Tokyo Aleworks post on here, Itabashi is really not as far as I imagined it to be. Slightly unfortunately for an easy pub crawl, Cranc is the opposite direction from the station to TAW, but it’s only a little over a ten minute walk and it’s good to burn a few calories before and after a beer or two, isn’t it? Anyway, here’s what you need to know.

- Pretty small place. No seats, all standing at a couple of tables and a couple of counters. It’s pretty small, but what did you expect from a Tokyo microbrewery?
- Six taps, half of which were their own beers and the others a mix of Japanese craft and US imports. Beers are served in two sizes and ml were listed (half 250ml, pint 473ml). A half of their own beer was ¥600 and a pint ¥1000. The guests were ¥700 a half and ¥1200-¥1300 for a pint. Pleasingly, tax is included in the price so there are no unpleasant surprises. If it’s busy you are asked to order at the bar.
- No cover charge, no smoking (I think) and wifi. There’s a bit of daytime opening at the weekend. I wouldn’t recommend arriving right at opening time though, as the two times I’ve been there, they haven’t been open right on the dot, so I'd give them a bit of leeway in that respect.

This was a nice place. Pretty relaxed, reasonably priced and it’s always good to support a smaller brewery. The guest beers looked interesting, but we stuck to the Cranc ones. The fact that it was reasonably busy from opening on a Saturday, along with the fact that they had a few items of brewery merchandise available for purchase suggests that it has a decent local following. I’ve never seen their beer in any other bars or even at festivals, so if you’re interested in trying it, you’ve got to come here. My favourite was the hoppy saison in case you were interested. You probably weren’t though…

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Cranc
And Beer

Opening Hours:
Wednesday-Friday, 17:00-23:00
Saturday, 15:00-23:00
Sunday, 15:00-21:00
Closed Monday & Tuesday

板橋 3-40-16, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-6909-6672

Links:

Monday, 2 March 2020

Revo Brewing


Today, a place I was slightly conflicted about visiting. Actually slightly is an understatement. Revo is a new brewery at the bottom of what I think is a big new APA hotel in Yokohama. If you don’t know about APA hotels, well… maybe it’s best that you should do your own research and make up your own mind about them rather than have a beer blog tell you what they think about it. Needless to say, I didn’t have the ‘I am THE president’ beer that they make with the special glass for my own political reasons. But undermining my own political objections, I did visit, have a beer and then a flight. Bear in mind I did this all for you reader, so therefore it’s neither of our faults, but I do deserve some kind of compensation for selling out my politics so cheaply. Or maybe some kind of punishment. But I’d obviously rather get the compensation (Paypal donation button on the right…). Here’s what you need to know (with no more mention of anything political till the end).

- Big place in the bottom of an APA hotel. So big that I couldn’t see all of it from my bench seat quite close to the front door. Doesn’t really feel like a hotel bar though. In my limited experience, I’d say it reminds me more of a US brewpub judging by the size and layout and I think perhaps that’s what they were aiming for, given that there’s lots of US craft beer paraphernalia around and a few US craft beers on tap. Going by the Tabelog entry, there’s room for 220 here. Massive! 70 in the bar area on a mixture of high communal tables and a dockside window counter. The ‘dining’ seats… who knows. I didn’t see them, but it’s fair to say that I was quite shocked when I read 150 dining as I had no idea so much could be hidden round the corner.
- Pretty big tap list and slightly unusually, they are a new brewery who is actually brewing! Guess their financial clout helps when it comes to applying for the license. They had 10 of their own beers on tap in a variety of styles (if by variety you mean different kinds of hazy beers). That’s probably beer gripe number one for me as I’m not really a big fan of hazy beers. If you are though, and many people are, you’ll be well served here. Even the table beer was hazy, which was a bit of a shame. But they were alright though, so I’m not moaning too much about that. Along with their own beers there were nine guests which were split roughly 2 to 1 between US imports and Yokohama breweries. Gripe number two is the pricing. On the surface it seems not too bad, but on closer inspection it begins to look pretty expensive. There are a variety of sizes with different beers being served in different sizes, but not necessarily in the way that you might normally imagine. For the simplicity’s sake, I’ll just mention the pint and half prices. Halves (US halves, 236ml) ranged from ¥650-¥900. US pints were between ¥1000 and ¥1200. So yes, for one beer at the top end of that range you were getting half as much for 3/4 of the price. Guests ranged from ¥680 to ¥800 for a half and ¥1150-¥1350 for a pint.  Although they did appear to have a sale going on with up to ¥300 being cut from the guest pint price for some beers. All a bit random really, especially considering they were selling their own beers at a higher cost than some of the US imports. They also have a beer flight available featuring 4 x 100ml of their own beers (which they select, not you), for ¥1300. There are also some cans and bottles available to take away. I guess perhaps these prices don’t seem so outlandish to some people but…
- Cover charge of ¥300 after 17:00 daily. For you ¥300 you get absolutely nothing. Not even nuts. You’re just paying to sit down. Although presumably you still pay even if you stand. Bit of a rip off to be honest. But at least they state it fairly clearly on the menu. Also stated on the menu is the fact that they add tax at the end. Admittedly it’s the most expensive scenario, but if you went in for a quick US pint of one of their hazy IPAs you’d end up paying ¥1650 at the till, which is pretty outrageous really. They have wifi and they have daytime opening (but shut mid afternoon during the week according to their hot pepper page, but not according to their Facebook. Hours below are from Facebook). The music was quite fun in a rock/punk way. There are smoking areas, but I think they are behind glass and closed doors so were really not noticeable.

This was quite a nice place and I enjoyed some of the beers. I can’t really recommend it that much though as the pricing was pretty horrible. If money is no object, go ahead. But there are lots of other places that charge a lot less. The view from the bar across the dock was nice, but I’d rather drink in a windowless basement and not feel ripped off if I’m being honest. Add to this the dubious politics of the APA hotel owner and figurehead and you’ve got a recipe for a bad taste in the mouth. Although I should stress that the beers probably won’t leave that, it’s just the other things. If I'm wrong with my presumption and there’s no connection between the companies, I’ll take half of that back, but I’d be pretty surprised if they weren’t linked in some way, given the size of the brewery and its location. As my friends in the previous pub had treated me to a couple of beers (thank you!), I saw this as a kind of financial free hit, so perhaps was not as upset by the prices as I am now, but I did still approach with some apprehension because of the politics. I guess I’m a hypocrite going here, but perhaps it was worth it to spread the word and give you a true picture before you visit. Of course, for some people neither the cost or the politics will matter, but unfortunately for me it did. And now, as I’ve just checked the owner's wikipedia page to try to give these gripes some context, I feel pretty disgusted with myself for going here at all. I won’t go back and would urge you to read about the ‘controversy' before you consider going yourself. Or if you want, put it all out of your mind and go ahead if what I've described sounds appealing to you.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Revo
Yokohama
254BeeR 

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, 11:30-23:00
Sunday, 11:30-22:00

Location/map:
海岸通5-25-3, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken



Telephone:
045-264-6280
 

Links:
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Website