Sunday, 10 March 2019

Coaster Craft Beer & Kitchen


Today a quick post on a bar that seemed to appear without me realising. It's strange, as I walk along this road quite a lot but I guess that I probably haven't recently, and perhaps a recent break in boozing has compounded that. But here it is anyway, a new beer bar in Shimokita, a lively area that probably still lacks a really good beer bar. Sure there are a few others and one particularly big name, but I think I've probably made it clear that I'm not that keen on Ushitora, which is loved by many, but which I find to be hugely overrated. Whether, with the arrival of Coaster, we can now say that Shimokita has its own great beer bar is still up for debate. However, Coaster does seem to be offering something a little different to the other places in the local area. Here's what you need to know.

- Trendy decor, something like the Mikkeller bar, but with a bit more of an American influence thrown in. Can't really put my finger on why I think this though. Lots of bare concrete and wood. Big and high communal table in front of the bar. Seats for five or so at the counter. A few smaller tables and some bench and sofa areas. There are also some standing tables in quite an open area by the door. Perhaps this was what was making me think of Mikkeller. Big kitchen area at the back where they seem to make some nice looking food.
- Beers served in two sizes, and I think they were US pint and half. Prices didn't vary that much between imports and domestic beers, and surprisingly, one of the cheapest beers available was actually an import. 15 taps, about 2/3 imported and 1/3 Japanese. The Japanese selections weren't the most exciting, but I realise that this is all a matter of opinion anyway. The imports were split 50/50 between European and US beers. Prices ranged from ¥600-¥850 for the smaller size and ¥1100-¥1400 for the larger. Unbelievably, much like at the Ol Tokyo bar, the Oslo brewing beers were the most expensive. I have no idea who's buying their beers at these prices. I know Norway is an expensive country, but there's a distinct lack of 'cost performance' for their beers I find. So, it's not cheap, but the space is quite large and it's in an expensive neighbourhood I guess. 
- No smoking, no cover charge and wifi. Oh, and also power outlets too. Whether there is daytime opening or not, who knows? Their Facebook page doesn't have hours and the website seems to just be a page of links to the Facebook and Twitter. Guess it's a work in progress, but I'd say they should probably publish their hours somewhere as at the moment it's all guess work and I'd imagine that doesn't exactly encourage floating voters.

So, it's a little expensive, but prices have been creeping up everywhere recently and the location and space are not cheap, I'd guess. They are a little outside the main Shimokita shopping area, but not far enough to put off thirsty customers. But I would imagine that they don't get as many people walking past and stumbling on them as they would if they were nearer the station. I wonder if the fact that they have Oslo brewing beers on means there is some connection to Ol Tokyo. I'm not sure Oslo beers are worthy of the super high prices and I'm not sure that it's a brewery people particularly seek out. If their concept is 1/3 European, 1/3 US and 1/3 Japanese, I quite like it! Just wish the Japanese beers were a bit more interesting, but once again, this is just my personal taste.
If they start publishing their taplist, I'm sure they'll get plenty of interest in this area. I also feel that perhaps I'm not really their target audience. The place feels fashionable, vibrant and airy. I am unfashionable, lethargic and musty. But good luck to them. Hopefully I can pop back soon.

Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Brimmer
Baird
Ushitora
Distant Shores

Opening Hours:
Good question...


Location/Map:

代沢 5-19-13, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:  
03-5787-6397  

Links:
Facebook

Website
Twitter

Friday, 1 March 2019

Monkey Wrench


A quick post today on a Kawasaki bar that serves Kawasaki brewed beers. Monkey Wrench is a short hop from the north exit of Mukogaokayuen station on the Odakyu line. Apparently, the building it is in is due for redevelopment sometime in the future, so if you want to visit I wouldn't hang around. Not saying it will be soon, but better to go sooner rather than later. There's not much on the Tokyo Beer Drinker map in this area and it's probably an area that people might pass through rather than stop at, but it's always nice to have another station on the Odakyu with a beer bar and always nice to have somewhere else to drink TKBrewing beers. Here's what you need to know.

- Medium sized bar that feels quite spacious considering the amount of seats. Counter seating for four, a similar counter along the front window and tables for around 10. The two interests of the bar (aside from beer of course) seem to be motorcycling (I'm almost certain this is not what people who are into it call it), and punk (see the Black Flag poster and the guitar in the corner). They have concerts there sometimes. Check their facebook for dates and details.
- Six taps of Kawasaki beer. Judging from their previous tap lineups, this seems to be four taps of Brimmer (their usual three regulars and one seasonal) and two ever changing taps of TKBrewing. Beers served in two sizes, US pint and half. The Brimmer regulars are ¥900 and ¥600 respectively and the seasonal Brimmer and one of the TK's were ¥950 and ¥650. The other TK was a touch more expensive at ¥1000 and ¥700. They do a beer flight featuring all of the taps for ¥1500. Not sure about the size though. The tap list is intermittently posted on their facebook, but I guess we know what three of the taps are anyway (Brimmer Pale, Golden and Porter).
- They serve food which I didn't look too much at it (sorry), but the couple of items I had were typical Japanese pub snacks and were very nice. They have some daytime opening at the weekend, there's no cover charge and there's wifi. Unfortunately however, smoking is allowed, which will be a big turn off for some.

So that's about it. It's a godsend if you live in the area I'd imagine, but perhaps a little of the beaten track for much passing trade. Although there are now a lot of places on the Odakyu line and I heard that there will soon be an Odakyu day pass ticket, so maybe an Odakyu pub crawl will be an option soon. It's also pretty close to Moonlight, although I haven't been there for ages so can't really comment on it now. The pricing is decent, and it's really nice to see TKBrewing available in another location. I always really enjoy their beers.

Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Brimmer
TKBrewing

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-00:00

Saturday & Sunday, 15:00-00:00

Location/Map:

登戸 2130 サンフラワービル 2F, Tama-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken



Telephone:  
044-712-3969 
 

Links:
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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Two Fingers Craft Beer


Post by James
Two Fingers has just opened on the north side of Ikebukuro. It is jointly owned by Nao and Stef. Nao is Japanese and I think Stef is Australian but he speaks decent Japanese. Both are chatty and probably what I liked best about Two Fingers is that it is the kind of place where everyone at the counter gets talking. There is no charge and it is a no-smoking establishment. There is also free WiFi. Currently Two Fingers opens at 4pm. The closing time is likely to change once they both move so it would be best to check online first.

The sign that you can see in the photo was made by Welder’s Diner and they had their own beer made at Distant Shores on tap for their opening. This place really had the atmosphere of an established craft beer bar rather than a place that’s just opened.

A relatively small bar, there are 5 counter seats and 3 tables that seat a total of 10. Beer comes in two sizes; US pints for about ¥1100 to ¥1200 and half pints for about ¥700-750. Pretty reasonable for Ikebukuro but tax is added on at the end. There are Japanese beers and some from America and elsewhere.

Food is mostly drinking snacks rather than main courses but it was good.

I highly recommend you pop in for a chat and a beer if you are in Ikebukuro.

Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Uchu
Nara 
Distant Shores
Ushitora

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday, 16:00-23:00
Closed Monday

Location/Map:

池袋 3-54-2, アーバンベルメゾン 101, Toshima-ku, Tokyo


Telephone: 
None
 
Links:
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Twitter

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Craft Beer Bar iBrew Akihabara


Much like the last post, where I suggested that you could find out all you need to know about Beer Kobo Shinjuku by reading the previous posts on Beer Kobo pubs and just changing the location, today’s post on the latest iBrew branch to open in Akihabara can repeat the trick by directing you to previous iBrew posts. iBrew seems to be a chain that is doing pretty well, expanding their original branch as well as opening new branches, whilst keeping their theme and style pretty much the same. So, by all means check the link to the other iBrew posts to compare, but at the same time, here’s what you need to know about their newest branch.

- Decor gives a nod towards the original branch's wood, but this place is a lot bigger (the biggest of all of the branches I reckon), and actually has seats and tables! There is seating for…. actually, I don’t know how many, but it’s plenty, at a few counters, some standing tables and round the back there are some nice and comfortable larger seating areas, with one hidden downstairs. Normally I try to count the seats from where I’m seating but there is a bit of a warren feel to this place, with lots of separate areas that I couldn’t see into. But yeah, it’s probably plenty. When we went in the middle of a Saturday afternoon there wasn’t a problem getting a table for four but it was getting busy when we left, so I’d probably suggest getting here early or making a booking.
- Depending on what you read or who you believe, there are either 47 or 48 taps. Whether all of these are always on, I doubt it, but 46 were when we visited. I’ve also heard a couple of reasons for the tap total. Either it relates to the number of Japanese prefectures, or perhaps has something to do with a certain idol group who are associated with the neighbourhood. The list is predominately made up of Japanese craft breweries, with some top stuff included for those who are into quality, and some unusual ones for those looking to experiment a little. However, there were also a few imports from the US and Europe. Check their facebook page for a reasonably up to date photo of the their taplist. All beers are priced the same, so there’s some seriously good value to be had here if you’re up for that. A half (270ml) is ¥390 and a pint (470ml) is ¥690. Tax is added at the end so this goes up to ¥421 and ¥745 but we’re still talking very cheap!
- Food served in these places always seems to be good pub grub and is reasonably priced. But there wasn’t any pressure to order anything. Just drinking is totally fine and given that there’s no cover charge, this could be a financially pinched alcoholic’s heaven. Along with the lack of cover charge, we have no smoking and daytime opening every day. Hooray! Couldn’t find WiFi though.

I always enjoy these places. The beers are a lot of fun and there’s even more to choose from here. The seating area was comfortable and there actually seemed to be a bit of an atmosphere. I quite like the way they seem torn between it being a dive bar and a more classy place and have kind of gone with bits of both and made it work. I really should visit these places more to be honest. Perhaps the super beer snobs won’t be into it, but it’s a lot of fun and I’d highly recommend it to everyone else. Cheers!
 

Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Sankt Gallen
Shiki
Minami Shinshu
Chichibu / Bear Meet Beer
Coedo
Y Market
Minoh
Ushitora
Preston
Baird
Nara
Hansharo
Tambaji
Kyoto
North Island
Hop Kotan
Beer Herun/Hearn11
Tazawako
Daisen
Nihonkai
Romantic Mura
Fukushima
Ise Kadoya
Distant Shores
Sennan

Opening Hours:
Daily, 13:00-23:30

Location/Map:

神田佐久間町3-38 大陽ビル1F, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


Telephone: 
03-5825-4520
 
Links:
Facebook

Friday, 25 January 2019

Beer Kobo Shinjuku

It’s taken me a while to get round to coming here but it shouldn't really take long to write this blog post as I could just direct you to the other posts about Beer Kobo brew pubs here and be done with it. These places are not to everyone’s taste, but they definitely serve a purpose and have some loyal customers. Their branches always seem to be reasonably busy and the continuing expansion suggests that they’re doing pretty well. If you’re a loyal reader of this blog you’ve probably read plenty of posts about them before so let’s not beat about the bush and just get on with this. Here’s what you need to know.

- The usual wooden decor and Beer Kobo feel, but this time it’s in the basement food court of a big office building. Seating for around 25 at a variety of tables and there’s also a ‘patio’. Although remember that you’re in the basement inside an office building so it’s not exactly a beer garden or pavement terrace feel.
- 10 taps of beer which is mainly brewed on site. I think they normally have one macro in these places but when I visited the ‘guest’ beer was from the Koenji branch. Beers served in two sizes, which I think we’re 210ml and 410ml. Prices ranged from ¥580-¥680 for the smaller size and ¥950-¥1050 for the larger. Tax is added at the end too. I think these prices reflect the location in two ways, in the sense that it’s in an office building food court and that it’s in Shinjuku. I’m pretty sure the other branches aren’t as expensive. They have a nomihodai (drink all you can for a set time) if you arrive before 19:00. If you’re up for some fast boozing you can save some money as it’s ¥1000 for 30 minutes or ¥1500 for 60 minutes. They also sell beer to take away. It costs ¥780 and represents a 25% discount apparently. I’ll leave it to you to work out the maths.

- No smoking, daytime opening wifi and no cover charge. Oh, and I should probably mention it does the usual Beer Kobo style food if you need something to eat.

So there you have it, a branch that is much like the other branches but is a little more expensive. It's could be a bit tricky to find this place, whether you're coming from Nishishinjuku station underground or from Shinjuku at street level. My best advice is to use the map below, find the Nomura building and go down to the B2 floor and wander around till you spot it. If drinking with a load of business men is your thing, this is the Beer Kobo branch for you. If you’re looking for a more enjoyable experience I’d probably recommend one of the others.
 

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Beer Kobo Shinjuku

Koenji Bakushu Kobo

Opening Hours:
Monday - Saturday, 11:30-14:30, 17:00-22:30
Closed Sunday & holidays

Location/Map:

西新宿1-26-2 新宿野村ビ ル B2F, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6258-0885
 
Links:
Website

Twitter 

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Beernova Urawa

Post by Mothy 

On January 8th Beernova Urawa (or Beer Nova Urawa- they aren't 100% consistent with their signage) opened. It's a nice location close to Urawa station. I didn't time it, but it's probably 2 or 3 minutes away at the most.

Beernova is a sister shop to BeerHunting Urawa in Kita Urawa. If you've been there you'll find a lot of familiar things at the new location, but there are some significant differences. The biggest thing that separates the two is the number of taps. Beernova has 30 taps which is about triple what Beer Hunting has. They don't seem to usually have something on every tap, but the times I've gone (I live close by so have already been quite often) they generally had 20 or more on.

The atmosphere and layout reminded me of places like Craft Beer Market and Craftsman. With big glass windows it also gets a lot of natural light and helps it to feel roomy and open, which is nice. There's tables which look to seat about 30 plus a counter that seats about 10, so it can fit more people comfortably than Beer Hunting as well. At the moment the standing room is filled with grand opening congratulatory gifts and flowers, but once they're gone maybe another 7 or 8 can fit there.

Another difference is that while Hunting was essentially only Japanese beers, Beernova has imports as well. Based off the beers they have had when I was in, they look to be getting their foreign beers from Evergreen and AQ Bevolution. Both of those importers have some really nice stuff, so for me that's a point in Beernova's favor.

Now for a point not in their favor. Like Beer Hunting Urawa, Beernova Urawa prices are a bit steep. The prices usually run from 500-840 yen for a small and 800-1400 yen for a regular, with an occasional beer getting priced beyond that. The smalls are 200 ml and the regulars are 355 ml. Most of the Japanese beers are around 1000 yen for the regular while most of the imports are around 1200. It's not outlandish pricing, but not good. A nice feature is they have a few taps set aside for Saitama breweries. I'm not sure if the breweries will change but so far it's been Zakkoku Koubou (a personal favorite of mine), Coedo, and Chichibu's Bear Meet Beer (which so far I have not had a good experience with, but some people seem to like).

Some other details: The food is good and not unreasonable in terms of price, but seems to be trying too hard for my personal taste. It's no smoking, but unfortunately the outside smoking area is set up right next to the door. So far I haven't encountered anyone smoking there, but if I do I imagine I'll have to walk through a wall of smoke to get in. Hopefully they move it. Also, there's no table charge. They also now have wifi.

All in all, Beernova is good if you happen to be in Urawa and want some good beer. But I don't think I would recommend anyone to make a special trip for it.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Coedo
Zakkoku
Chichibu/Bear Meet Beer
North Island
Shiga Kogen
Minoh
Hideji
Oni Densetsu
Swan Lake
Be Easy

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 15:00-00:00
Saturday & Sunday, 12:00-00:00

Location/Map:

東仲町25-5-1 バティマE101, Urawa-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken



Telephone:
080-8410-1192
 
Links:
Facebook

Sunday, 20 January 2019

BathHaus

Today a brief post on a fairly new place that has opened in my neighbourhood (the general Yoyogi Uehara kind of area). On this blog, we’ve had beer bars, restaurants, beer shops where you can drink, record shops with beer and probably some other types of places that I’ve now forgotten about. But this is a first for this blog. I bring you, the first public bath (sento)/ co-working space/beer bar. I guess you probably might have guessed part of that from the name. Being a generally shy guy, public nudity isn’t my thing, but if you’re in the mood for a bath and then a beer this is clearly the place for you. Here’s what you need to know.

- As mentioned above, a multi-function premises, but we’ll concentrate on the beer part. Bar area is pretty small with limited seating. Three at the bar, a couple of seats at a small table and a bench for a couple more. Some standing space though. Sparklingly new building with a bar full of bare concrete and retro furnishings. Quite a nice space to have a drink to be honest.
- Five taps of Japanese craft beer, served in two sizes, half and pint (UK measures). On the day we visited, the prices were an eye-watering ¥900 for the half and ¥1500 for the pint, but they are UK pint measures and not US pint. Apparently the prices start from ¥700 though, so maybe we were unlucky when we visited. Tax is mercifully included in these prices. Fancy soft drinks, tea and natural wine available too.
- No smoking, no cover charge and loads of daytime opening. Bizarrely, they didn’t seem to have wifi, which I thought would have been a certainty. I didn’t ask though, so perhaps they did and I just couldn’t find the network. (UPDATE: They do have wifi). One other thing that I should mention is the fact that this is a cashless premises, so be sure to bring a card, whether it be of the debit/credit variety, or some kind of Suica type thing.

So, a unique kind of place with an interesting selling point but the prices when we were there were a big drawback. The beers were decently selected and came from what are normally a bit more expensive breweries so perhaps the blow is softened a little. As I mentioned, it has a nice feel to it, so worth a visit if money is no object to you. It’s probably quite in fitting with it’s surroundings and I’m sure will attract some local regulars.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
AJB

Hop Kotan
Kyoto

Opening Hours:
Monday & Wednesday-Friday, 09:00-22:00
Saturday, 09:00-20:00
Sunday, 09:00-21:00
Closed Tuesday

Location/Map:

西原1-50-8, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
None
 

Links:
Facebook
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Website