Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas and New Year

Tokyo Beer Drinker will be resting over Xmas and the New Year whilst I return to England to drink plenty of nice beers, and also make a long overdue visit to Belgium. Considering I used to go at least 5 times a year, the 8 month break since my last trip has been tough. Although it is completely against the whole concept of this blog, I may post a 'beercation' digest when I return. Although I might be enjoying myself too much to take bad photos and make notes.
In the New Year, plenty more places to add to the blog. A lot that I have been to before and never blogged about, and a big long list of new places to check out. But until then, hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Baird Harajuku Taproom

Today, one of the first Ji-Biru bars I went to in Japan, initially when I was over on holiday a couple of times, and now living here. Baird have four Taprooms dotted around Japan, two of which are in Tokyo, and one in Yokohama and one in the brewery's home town, Numazu . Have yet to go to the Yokohama one or the Numazu one, but from what I have heard each is fairly unique, but they have similar character and qualities, albeit with some local variations.
The place itself is full-on wood decor. Fairly cosy with seating for around 40 people, some around the counter and with a few high tables as well.
The beer is naturally all from Baird. They have 15 taps (10 regulars and 5 seasonals) and 2 hand pumps (one regular, one seasonal). The regular keg beers are Wheat King, Single-Take Session Ale, Rising Sun, Numazu Lager, Red Rose, Teikoku IPA, Suruga Bay, Angry Boy, Kurofune Porter and Shimaguni Stout. The regular hand pump is Harajuku Ale, which is made only for this location. The other branches have their own house beers too. Glass sizes are 500ml and 250ml for the regulars, and 400ml and 200ml for the seasonals. Prices are ¥1000 for large and ¥600 for small, and very occasionally a little bit extra if the beer is extra high alcohol or extra special. They also do a tasting set of three 140ml glasses of the regulars for ¥1000. Along with this, for regular visitors or heavy drinkers, they do a 'Nonbei' card which you purchase in advance for ¥10000, (the price of 10 pints), and which entitles you to 12 pints. Along with the beer they offer a pretty big range of Izakaya style food, (I particularly like the Shimaguni Stout edamame) and at pretty reasonably prices too.
To conclude, this is an all-round decent place. If you like Baird beers or want to try them, one of their taprooms has got to be the best place to go. The Harajuku taproom is a welcome refuge from the insanity of the surrounding shopping areas. Open from 5 on weekdays and noon on weekends, non-smoking throughout and with no cover charge, you should normally be able to get a seat without reserving, but might be worth phoning ahead. Posts to follow on the other taprooms in the area!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Baird

Opening Hours:
17.00 - 24.00, Monday to Friday, 12.00 - 24.00 Saturday and Sunday

Location/map
ノーサレンダービル 2F, 神宮前1-20-13, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001

Directions:
From Harajuku station, leave via the Takeshita exit. Cross the road and head down the crazy Takeshita Dori shopping street. Take the first left turn and follow the road to the end. The Taphouse is on the right hand corner on the second floor. You should be able to see the window seats from here. 



Telephone:
03-6438-0450

Links:

Website
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Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Beer Cafe Gambrinus

Another one a bit out of central Toyko, but once again worth the trip. The Chuo/Sobu lines seem to have a lot of good bars along their length. So, Gambrinus in Kokubunji. We combined our visit with a bit of record shopping in the area and got to Gambrinus shortly after opening time. It's a good thing that we did, as there was a large group booked in, and the place is quite cosy. There is seating for about 5 at the bar where we ended up, and table seating for maybe another 15, maybe a few more, so once again it is quite a small place, but this is quite normal for Tokyo. The decor is modern, but comfortable. When we were there they were playing modern rock music at an unobtrusive level. It was a pretty nice drinking experience, and the food we had was nice too.
So, onto the beers. There are 12 taps and one hand pump, the majority of which are Japanese micros. They have one import which seems to vary between Belgian, German and Czech. The beers are served in a wide range of sizes. They have the regular small (284ml), regular (420ml) and large (568ml), so you are catered for if you like your pints UK or US size. They also have a smaller taster size and an extra large too. There is a formula on the menu for working out the prices of these. Dealing with the general sizes, the prices are fairly standard for Tokyo. One thing I do like though is that they don't massively increase prices for higher alcohol beers like some places do. I think my pint of Minoh imperial stout here was the cheapest I have seen (apart from in the brewery's bars in Osaka). Small sizes range from ¥700-¥750, regular from ¥900-¥950 and large from ¥1200-¥1300. Naturally the imports are a bit more, but to be honest I was much more interested in the Japanese beers.
All in all, a nice neighbourhood beer bar. If you are in the area it is definitely worth checking out, and another place that would be good for a Chuo line pub crawl as it is really close to the station. They regularly update their website with their tap lists and seem fairly accommodating if you arrive and the place is full. There is a small standing area near the front door where you can have a drink whilst you wait for a table. Good selection of interesting beers and nice food, so well worth it.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Bayern Meister
Hideji
Yo-Ho
Noboribetsu
Shiga Kogen
Beer Buddy
Sankt Gallen
Swan Lake
Minoh

Opening Hours:
17.00 - 02.00, Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday, the first Monday of the month, and public holidays

Location/map
第46東京ビル 6F, 南町 3-16-5, Kokubunji, Tokyo 185-0021

Directions:
From Kokubunji station, leave via the South exit. You will find yourself on a small square with 5 roads leading off of it. You need to take the second road from the right, so not the one the runs next to the station, but the next one anti-clockwise. Gambrinus is on the 6th floor of the second building down this street. There is a small entrance with a lift where they have a sign (see the picture above), so look out for it. If you get to the next street you have gone too far. 



Telephone:
042-325-0484

Links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Ratebeer listing