Saturday, 9 February 2013

Asagaya 20 Taps

UPDATE: The brewery seems to have gone and they've upped the number of taps to 20, most of which are beers from the various Bakushu Kobo brewpubs plus an occasional couple of guests. Taplist seems to be posted on their facebook sometimes. The link is below. Now there's a small seating area at the bar as well as the 30 seats upstairs as before. Prices seem to have increased a bit but they are also shown on the facebook page so you can check for yourself. Have crossed through the parts below that don't seem to be appropriate anymore.

This branch has now moved from the old location. I've left the old post below, crossed out in case you are interested in any way. Here's what you need to know about the new place.

- First floor houses the brewery and kitchen. Upstairs is the seating area with seats for around 30 I would guess. Seems that you order and pay on the first floor and then are escorted upstairs by a staff member carrying your beers. Not sure what happens if you need to order again. Probably the same thing. You pay as you go, so you don't run up a tab.
- 6 taps of their own beer. All priced at ¥500 for a Jokki, so probably around 350ml. The beer styles seemed a little more adventurous than other branches but to be honest I haven't visited any of them  recently so can't say for sure. They had a Black IPA and a Hibiscus Ale alongside the usual Cream and Blonde type offerings. Also, they have a nomihodai where you can drink all you want for ¥3000 for 90 minutes, but I guess you have to go some to get your money's worth.

The place is a fair bit smaller than the previous location, but is much more convenient for the station, being no more than literally a stone's throw away. I think these places are quite fun and good value for a night out. If you're looking for extreme or rare beers, these are probably not the places for you though.

Building on the success and popularity of Koenji Bakushu Kobo, this is a fairly recently opened Brewpub run by the brother of the Koenji brewer. I believe the first place was a collaboration between the two brothers, but now Asagaya gives both brothers a chance to shine in the their own light.
Bakushu Dojo is a bigger place than Koenji, split over two floors and a roof terrace. The ground floor is a bar area currently with 5 of their beers on offer. The 2nd floor is more of a dining area. They do an excellent buffet deal for ¥1490, which goes down to ¥990 if you have 3 or more beers. There is also some more seating more suited to just drinking. The roof terrace will be lovely in the summer, but was not so appealing in February. In addition to their own beers, they also have few macro offerings, but let's be honest, we don't want to drink them.
So, onto the beers. On my first visit, they only had one beer on, but in February this had increased to 5 house brews, Blonde, Cream, Black, White and Wheat. The beers are not just identified by the name but also by a month and number, showing which batch they are from. I think it is all a work in progress, and the beers will develop as time passes. They had a small jug to sample an early version of February's Cream beer available on the counter too. It is clear that they care about making and developing their beers here. It was nice to see the Black too, a 10% imperial stout which is very different from the others. Prices ranged from ¥390 (the Blonde) to ¥590 (White) for decent Joki/mug sized servings. The Black was ¥490 and served in a smaller teacup size. Probably sensible given the strength. When you arrive you are given a neckband with a ticket on it. Each time you buy a beer they stamp the ticket so they can work out how much you owe when you settle up at the end.
Apparently, there will be more brewpubs, probably along the Chuo line again which has to be a good thing. If you are looking for extreme beer styles with controversial ingredients, maybe this is not the place to go. However, they do have a series of well made easy drinking beers. The Blonde and Black were particularly good. Also, given the evolutionary way the beers progress, repeat visits will give new and improved versions of things you have already tried. It is well worth the short trip out of Shinjuku and the short walk from the JR station. Come for the dinner buffet and stuff yourself or just pop in for just a couple of beers. Another one for this Chuo line pub crawl!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Asagaya (of course!)

Opening Hours:
17.00 - 23.00 Monday-Friday
15.00 - 21.00 Saturday and Sunday and holidays

阿佐ヶ谷北 2-1-8, Suginami, Tokyo


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