Friday, 28 June 2013

Craft Beer Market - Toranomon

Today, somewhere I have been a few times but always forgot to take a photo. My new tactic should be take the photos on the way in. That way they may be less blurred and I hopefully won't forget to do it. However, when you are thirsty, this doesn't always seem like a priority.
This will probably be quite a short post, as Craft Beer Market - Toranomon is unsurprisingly quite like Craft Beer Market - Jimbocho. Given that they are two branches of the same bar, it will come as no surprise to you that there are a lot of similarities. The look of the place is similar, the food is in the same vein, the atmosphere is similar and the beer prices are the same. It is at this stage that I should encourage you to look at the post on here on Jimbocho. However, the two places do have different beer lists, so don't presume that something that Jimbocho have said is on there, will be on at Toranomon.
So, maybe it makes more sense for me to concentrate on what is different between the two places. Toranomon does not open on Saturday like Jimbocho does. Understandable, as this is very much a business district, but it is a shame all the same. Also Toranomon's outside section seems to be standing only. I have previously stood outside here and if you stand you are don't have to pay the ¥300 cover charge if you tell them you are only drinking. Toranomon has less of a web presence than Jimbocho. There doesn't seem to be a facebook page, but you can still find their daily beer list on the Craft Beer Market website here.
So, not much else to say. All the same plus points as Jimbocho. The prices are excellent and the choice of beers is normally pretty good. Even the most experienced Ji-Biru drinker will probably find a couple of new beers here. There was talk of a couple more branches being opened in the near future, but this doesn't seem to have happened yet. If the Craft Beer Market boss is reading this, how about opening one in Yoyogi Hachiman/Uehara? Please.... This place is always fairly busy, so might be worth booking in advance if you can. If not, it seems to be fairly quiet until around 7, so maybe pop in at opening time if you have not reserved. So, a good place with good beer and great prices. Can't say much more than that!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
T.Y Harbor
Doppo
Shonan
Niigata
Kure
Yo-Ho
Sankt Gallen
Minamishinshu
Gotemba Kogen
Ginga Kogen
Inawashiro
Baird
Brimmer
Swan Lake
Iwatekura
Beer Buddy
August

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, Lunch 11.30-14.00, Evening 17.00-23.30
Saturday & Sunday closed

Location/map
S.A.グレイス, 1F, 1-23-3 西新橋, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
From Toranomon station, leave via exit 1. Carry on to the first main road and cross at the lights. Turn right down this main road. Cross two smaller side streets and then turn left down the third. Craft Beer Market is on the corner of the first side street on the right.



Telephone:
03-6206-1603

Links:
Website

Ratebeer listing

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Ant n' Bee

Ant n' Bee is somewhere I have been meaning to go for a long time. Finally I made it there last week. It is a place that has been around for a while now, so is an elder statesman compared to many of the young upstarts that have recently enriched the beer scene here. On previous trips to Japan I had read about it, but the fact that it is in Roppongi meant that I was never quite in the right area, so consequently, it has taken me a long time to visit. Roppongi is not somewhere I particularly want to go to, but from time to time, I inevitably find myself having some reason to be there, and now Ant n' Bee is one of those reasons.
The bar itself is usually described as small, but given that there I have already mentioned quite a few places on here that are definitely smaller, I think it has to be referred to as cosy. There is seating for ten at the counter and space for around 25 more on seats and in a small standing area. So, yes, it is by no means massive. The decor is classic pub style, maybe even reminding me a bit of a British pub. Something that should be mentioned is that smoking is allowed. This is something that definitely makes me think twice about going somewhere, possibly because I got used to non-smoking places in the UK. It does seem counter-intuitive to serve fancy and flavourful beer and food and then let people smoke. I will say that the aircon was quite good, so it didn't feel too smoky, but I could certainly smell it after we left the place. However, there is apparently a non-smoking area, so if this is important to you, phone ahead and book in this section.
On to the beer. Ant n' Bee has 21 taps of Japanese craft beer. There are some of the usual suspects, but also some stuff that you really don't see around very often, so that is definitely a good reason to come here. All beers are the same price and are served in 4 sizes; small (¥735), regular (¥945), large (¥1260) and maß (¥2520). So, now you are aware of the thing that many people hold against the place, the prices. It is definitely fair to say that Ant n' Bee is at the top end of prices in Tokyo. I have limited experience of Roppongi, but apparently it is one of the more expensive areas of Tokyo to drink even mass-produced lager in,  so that goes some way to explaining it. Given that glass sizes are approximately 230ml (small), 350ml (regular) and 473ml (large) you can see that you are not exactly getting more beer for you money either. Sorry I don't have a glass size for the maß, but I guess it is around the litre mark. That's the bad news.
The good news is that the beer is great and the place is nice. I quite like the 350ml size for drinking as I sometimes find a half too small and a pint too much of one thing. Ever the optimist! I do think this is a great place to pop in for a few drinks. They had Mokijoh Weizen on tap which I have never seen around before and was really nice and there were quite a few others that I would have been very happy to drink.
I really enjoyed my time here and I fully intend to go back again. In a nutshell, the high prices and smoking are things that I find troubling, but these are balanced by the nice atmosphere, good beers and the fact that it is usefully (possibly) open until 6am. I wish I lived that kind of life but I feel I might destroy myself financially and physically fairly quickly if I did. I think if you have any doubts, best thing to do is pay a visit with the prices in mind beforehand so it doesn't come as a shock and make your mind up yourself. I liked it, so hopefully you will too.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Mojiko
Noboribetsu
Ise Kadoya
Johana
Minoh
North Island
Swan Lake
Shonan
Hideji
Yo-Ho
Harvestmoon

Opening Hours:
Daily 17.00-06.00

Location/map
B1, 六本木 5-1-5, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032

Directions:
From exit 3 of Roppongi metro station turn right and carry on till the large junction. Do a right here down the main road (not the smaller side street). Ant n' Bee is about 20m down on the right hand side. It is in the basement underneath an Irish pub called Abbot's Choice so look out for that. 



Telephone: 
03-3478-1250

Links: 
Website/Blog
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Friday, 21 June 2013

Craft Hands

Not to be confused with Craftheads, Craft Hands is a craft beer and wine bar in swanky Azabujuban. This is an area of Tokyo that I have never been to before, and to be honest I still haven't seen much of it, as the bar is very close to one of the exits of the metro station. The similarities to Craftheads don't really go much further than the name and the fact that they both have nice beer.
Craft Hands has 13 taps, but three of these were taken up with Sapporo varieties (Edel Pils, Shiro Honoka). The rest were mainly Japanese craft beers, but there were a couple of US imports too (Lagunitas IPA and Fifty Fifty California Pale Ale). There were a couple from a brewery I haven't seen around much called Craft Liquors, and the rest were good solid selections. You would definitely find something nice here. Servings were in two sizes, regular (260ml) and large (480ml). The prices were about standard for Tokyo (regular, ¥620-¥700, large, ¥1080-¥1250). However, there is a 'Happy Hour' from opening to 8pm including the weekend when it is effectively five happy hours! Happy Hour takes ¥100 off a regular beer and ¥200 off a large. Along with the taps there is a selection of about 60 bottles, mainly Belgian, but with some other stuff in there too. They also had the two Kagua beers (both ¥1300); Japanese beer brewed in Belgium in a Belgian style.
The place itself is pretty modern and split over two floors. The entrance floor has seats for six at the counter and probably around twice as many on high tables. The basement is more suited for larger groups with sofas and larger tables, probably seating around 25. Aside from the beer, there is a large selection of wine available and a kitchen serving food, neither of which I tried as I was totally focused on beer. There is normally a cover charge here (¥300 I believe) but when I visited fairly early, and asked if just drinking was ok, they were fine with that, and consequently there was no charge. Not sure how this would work at a busy time though, so beware. Cover charges kill pub crawls in my opinion, so it is nice when an establishment is flexible in applying it. Or equally nice when they don't have one!
So, another good bar in Tokyo. So many good places these days. Not the biggest selection you'll find, but good beers, and not the cheapest, but the happy hour makes it very affordable. It was a nice place and the staff very friendly and helpful. The area isn't one that I normally visit, but the happy hour, particularly at the weekend is good enough to make me go out of my way, so I will definitely be back, and next time for more than just a flying visit.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Hitachino Nest
Oh La Ho
TY Harbor
Sankt Gallen
Baird
Craft Liquors
Shonan

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17.00-02.00
Saturday & Sunday, 15.00-02.00

Location/map
CASA ESENCIA, 麻布十番1-3-13, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0045

Directions:
From Azabujuban station, leave via exit 7 (it's a bit far from the other exits, but will bring you out very near to the bar). Turn left out of the exit and take the first left turn. Craft Hands is on the right a couple of buildings along.



Telephone: 
03-3568-3723

Links: 
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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 5: Nihonbashi area

Nihonbashi this time. Not too many more of these left for me to visit, so please if you know any more send me an email to tokyobeerdrinker@gmail.com. Thanks.

Nihonbashi Shimane Kan


Nothing here apart from Beer Hearn/Herun, whatever you want to call it, but I am kind of interested in their beer so have included it. Four different varieties for ¥525 each.

Opening hours
10.30-19.00 daily

Location/Map 
福島ビル1F, 日本橋室町 1-5-3, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 103-0022

Directions
From Mitsukoshimae station, take exit A4 and turn left. Nihonbashi Shimane Kan is on the left hand side after about 20m.

Nara Mahoroba-Kan


Not much again, but there are four beers from the Soni Kohgen brewery which I had never heard of till I went to this shop. Don't know if that is a good or bad thing.

Opening hours
10.30-19.00 daily, except at New Year.

Location/Map
日本橋室町 162 ビル 1F, 日本橋室町 1-6-2, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 103-0022

Directions
From Mitsukoshimae station, take exit A4 and turn left. Walk past Nihonbashi Shimane Kan, cross the first small side street and it is on the left.

Mie Terrace


Couple of breweries represented. One can called Kumano Kodo for ¥299 which is made by Ise Kadoya (shame they don't have more of their beers), and two varieties from Hosokawa Shuzo, both in bottles for ¥578 each.

Location/Map
浮世小路千疋屋ビルYUITO ANNEX, 日本橋室町 2-4-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Directions
Bit confusing round this area at the moment as they seem to be building lots of new metro exits. Needless to say this is on the same street as the other two shops mentioned in this post about 50m further north of the Nara shop.

Le Collier (NOW CLOSED)


APPARENTLY THIS SHOP HAS EITHER CLOSED DOWN OR GOT RID OF ALL THE  BEERS (EITHER WAY, I GUESS IT'S NOT OF INTEREST ANYMORE), SO IT HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THE MAP. 

Another shop today, but there is a bit of a twist, or some might say a hitch with this one. Le Collier is a shop in Tokyo station, and one with possibly the largest selection of Japanese beers I have ever seen. However, it is also completely inside Tokyo station. This means that you need to go through the ticket barriers to reach it. It is in a kind of gourmet shopping centre called Gransta, and is a couple of levels under the JR platforms. This presents some issues in visiting it if you are not traveling on JR. The first time I tried to find it, I didn't realise, and was totally bamboozled by what my map was telling me. The second time, I knew what to expect, so arrived on the Chuo line rather than the metro.
So, the beers. Well, it certainly is a large selection. Anyone who has ever traveled around Japan on Shinkansen will have seen the local produce shops that seem to be at most Shinkansen stations. There always seems to be a few local beers squirreled away somewhere in these shops. Le Collier seems to have a kind of beer selection that reminds me of these station shops, but collected from many stations in Japan. There were four or five fridges with bottles and cans from all over Japan, so a very wide choice. Probably quite useful for someone who forgot to buy souvenirs at the other end of their trip. This kind of selection means that there are quiet a few of what could be described as less interesting Japanese beers. However, there is also a lot of good stuff there too, and if you were looking for something new you would almost certainly find it. Some of the more interesting breweries they stocked included Minoh, Oh La Ho, Hitachino Nest and Iwate Kura. There was interesting stuff that I want to try from breweries such as Umenishiki and Beer Hearn/Herun, and of course the usual suspects Yo Ho, Echigo, Coedo etc. Most of these breweries had multiple offerings, so the selection must be over the 100 mark. Prices are pretty much what you would expect; the more common breweries going from around ¥280 and the higher end stuff coming in at up to ¥600. Station pricing seems to be done a bit differently in Japan than it is in the UK!
So, a very good place to get new and interesting beers. The selection was predominately regular beers, but some breweries had seasonals there too. They took a lot of care packing the beers too (from a protection point of view rather than presentation), which was nice. They also seemed to have a couple of taps for on site drinking, but not sure how this would really work as it is a fairly small shop. Definitely the biggest selection of Japanese beers I have seen, and something for both new beer tickers and for people who know what they like. My only complaint could be that you have to go through the barriers to get to it, but this just means you need to plan a bit before visiting I guess, so it's only a minor gripe. I will pop in whenever I am passing through the station, but it is also worth a visit in its own right.

Japanese breweries available when I visited:
Echigo
Yo Ho
Doppo
Beer Hearn/Herun
Niigata
Coedo
Kamakura
Unazuki
Otaru
Oh La Ho
Hitachino Nest
Umenishiki
Minoh
Konishi
Helios
Onuma
Zumona
Iwatekura
(and some more that I couldn't easily identify, and I sort of gave up writing them down as there were so many)

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 08.00-22.00
Sunday, 08.00-21.00

Location/map
JR東日本東京駅構内地下1階GRANSTA, 丸の内1-9-1, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
So, potentially a difficult one, and for once a googlemap is going to be pretty much no help to you. I have put a link above to the general location for reference though. Le Collier is inside Tokyo JR station after the ticket barriers. The entrance it is nearest to is the Marunouchi Underground Central Gate. If you are entering the station, best use that one. If you are arriving on a train, best bet is to go down a couple of floors to the basement 1 level, and then follow the signs for the Marunouchi Underground Central Gate. This gate is quite near the end of Gransta. If you are entering via this gate Le Collier will be on your right just as you enter Gransta. It is tucked away in a kind of food court looking area with a bakery at the front, If in doubt, just ask a shopping centre employee, as I am sure they are used to people getting lost here. Tokyo station is a mystery that I have still to truly get to grips with.

Telephone: 
03-5220-5263

Links: 
Website
Ratebeer listing

Monday, 10 June 2013

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 4: Tokyo Station area

Another bunch of regional produce shops, this time in the Tokyo station area. Was particularly pleased to find somewhere that sells a decent selection of North Island beers.

Hokkaido Foodist


The place to buy North Island beers. They have five different bottles ranging from ¥525-¥588. Also a stock of four different Otaru beers, three regulars at ¥294 and a seasonal at ¥315.

Opening hours
10.00-20.00 daily

Location/Map 
ダイヤ八重洲口ビル, 八重洲 2-2-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0028

Directions
Exits at Tokyo station are a bit of a nightmare, so I will try to keep it simple. From the JR station head out of the Yaesu South exit and cross the big main road. When you get to the other side of the road turn right and Hokkaido Foodist is on the corner of the first side street.

Kyoto Kan


Not so much of a big selection here, but worth mentioning as it has three bottles of Syuzan Kaido all at ¥441, which you don't see around very often. Beware! If you are looking for bottles by the new popular brewery Kyoto Brewing Company, they don't bottle or can yet, so anything you buy with Kyoto on it will probably be the Syuzan Kaido beers and not the good Kyoto beers.

Opening hours
10.30-19.00 daily

Location/Map
号ヤンマー東京ビル, 八重洲 2-1-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0028

Directions
Once again, from the JR station head out of the Yaesu South exit and cross the big main road. Kyoto Kan is in the building on the corner that you reach at the end of the crossing.

Fuji No Kuni Yamanashi Kan


Bit of a bigger selection here. Three from Fujizakura Kogen, big bottles at ¥680, three from Yatsugatake at ¥480 each, and a big one litre bottle from Fujiyama for ¥1260.

Opening hours
11.00-19.30 daily

Location/Map
日本橋プラザビル1F, 日本橋 2-3-4, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 103-0027

Directions
Once again, from the JR station head out of the Yaesu South exit and cross the big main road. Carry on down the street and take the first left at the junction. Go down this side street and take the fourth right hand turn. A little way down this street on the left (just after a Sunkus) you will see the mini shopping centre that Fuji No Kuni Yamanashi Kan is in, and you should be able to see the shop from the street.

Towers


Back onto more familiar Japanese beer territory with Towers, a pretty small standing bar near Toyko station. Towers is somewhere I always enjoy popping in to and is located in an area that is getting better and better for good beer bars. It may not have the biggest selection, but it's definitely a good place to stop for a good beer.
After the massive capacity of St. Bernardus, Towers has space for probably about a fifth as many people and that would be a bit of a squeeze. It is a very compact standing bar, with space for maybe 5 or six at the bar and a handful more behind. I have never been here when it is packed, but even with five others there it feels bustling. Given the space constraints, I suspect it would be somewhere you might stay for one drink if it were busy. Every time I have been there it has been on the way somewhere else or on the way home from somewhere else. Not saying it's not a destination in its own right, but that given my increasing age, I quite like to sit down, especially after a couple of drinks.
On to the beer, Towers has six taps, and they are generally all Japanese craft beers, although I have heard rumours of other beers (not ones I particularly want to drink though). Beers are served in pints only. Not sure if this is a policy or just that I have never seen anyone drinking anything but pints there. The beer list also only mentions pint prices. There always seems to be a decent selection with some variety too. Prices vary from ¥800-¥1000, so maybe a bit cheaper than other places, but pretty much normal.
So, a pretty nice place all in all. Decent prices, good beers. I have heard the owner likes to chat about beer, but sadly every time I have been there it has been too busy. In case you need it, the toilet is not in the bar, it's upstairs in the building next door (turn left out the front door of the bar). I would love to have this place nearer to my house, as it's maybe not the most convenient location for me. When will someone open this Yoyogi Uehara bar?! I do make a point of popping in here though. It's true that the selection may not be as big as other places, but it more than makes up for it in atmosphere.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Shiga Kogen
Brimmer
Baird
North Island
Yo-Ho

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17.30-23.00
Saturday, 15.00-'around 20.00'
Closed Sunday

Location/map
松岡八重洲ビル 1F, 八重洲 2-8-10, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0028

Directions:
Simplest route is from Kyobashi metro station. Leave via exit 3 and carry on down the road. Take the first left turn and Towers is on the right hand side a couple of buildings down. 



Telephone: 
03-3272-8488

Links: 
Website
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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Brasserie St. Bernardus


Straying slightly of the Japanese beer track again today with what I think is the best of the Delirium/Belg Aube group of bars. However, they are all pretty good if you want to drink Belgian beer and certainly nicer than the Delirium Cafes in Belgium. Belgian beer was the beer that first got me drinking good stuff all those years ago, so it has a special place in my heart. My biggest regret about moving to Japan was that I wasn't going to be able to make my regular six trips a year to Belgium. Admittedly, London is quite a bit closer to Belgium than Tokyo.
So, Brasserie St. Bernardus in Kanda. It's a nice looking place, lots of wood and an attempt at recreating the traditional Belgian cafe feel in Tokyo. It's quite big as far as Japanese bars go, probably seating somewhere in the region of 50 on regular tables, high tables and a long counter area. There are 19 taps, pretty much all Belgian, with the occasional Mikkeller thrown in. Nothing Japanese though, but that's not what you come here for I guess. The taps are pretty well chosen, featuring naturally lots of St. Bernardus beers, but also selections from De La Senne, De Ranke and the like. There is also a substantial bottle list with some great stuff on it from De Dolle and Struise amongst others. However, this all comes at a price. The bottles are go from about ¥1000 up to ¥1500 for some of the more special stuff, but I guess, given the distance it's not so bad. Certainly if you think about some of the higher priced Tokyo beer places where you might pay ¥1200 for a US pint sized glass of something made in Japan, and think that for only ¥100 more you can get a bottle of De Dolle's Bos Keun it's not so bad. The draught beers range from ¥700-¥950 depending on strength and rarity, for glasses around 250ml. Not bad at all to be honest. The St. Bernardus beers are at the lower end of this and most of them are pretty tasty. They also have the St. Bernardus Abt 12 on tap, which you don't even see very often in Belgium.
Along with the beer, they unsurprisingly have a menu full of Belgian style food with a few more familiar pub items on there. The food is pretty good here, well at least the frites are, which is one of the few things I tried. Given that this is a classy drinking and dining establishment, it will come as no surprise to Tokyo bar regulars that there is a cover charge of ¥300. In the past we have avoided the cover charge by drinking in the standing area outside the door, but not sure if this is a regular policy or they were just being nice. If you just fancy one drink it will be worth asking if this is the case.
So, probably not really many surprises here. It's a nice place to drink that serves very nice beers, but is maybe a little bit more expensive than other places. But when you take into account the fact that the beer is Belgian, so has come a long way, and is generally interesting stuff, it's pretty reasonable. I have seen plenty of places offering worse Belgian beers for the same or higher prices. Will be heading back here each time I feel some Belgian nostalgia kicking in, as it is a thoroughly decent place to have a drink.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
None

Opening Hours:
Monday, 17.00-24.00
Tuesday-Thursday, 11.30-14.00, 17.00-24.00
Friday, 11.30-14.00, 17.00-02.00
Saturday & Sunday, 15.00-23.00

Location/map
内神田 3-6-2, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0047

Directions:
Leave Kanda JR station by the North exit and turn left. Follow the train tracks until you get to a main road. Cross this road and carry on alongside the tracks again. At the second main road turn right and the bar is just round the corner. 



Telephone: 
03-6206-8269

Links: 
Website
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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 3: Shinbashi

Couple of shops in Shinbashi, very close to Shinshu Sake Mura which I guess is a satellite shop too. Worth popping in if you have had a bit too much Nagano produce and want to diversify your Japanese beer consumption.

Tottori-Okayama Shinbashikan


The new location for the Tottori shop. They have moved over the road and have teamed up with Okayama prefecture. They have six beers in bottles from Daisen, the regulars at ¥540 and the stronger ones at ¥756. Doppo from Okayama have four different bottles, all at ¥432. And there were five bottles from Tsuyama at ¥410 each.

Opening hours
10.00-22.00 daily

Location/Map
新橋センタープレース, 新橋 1-11-7, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Directions
From Shinbashi metro station leave via exit 3, and turn right on the main road. It's a couple of buildings along.

Kagawa/Ehime Setouchi Shunsai-Kan


Two prefectures for the price of one! Unfortunately, this is not really reflected in the size of the beer selection. They do have a decent selection of Umenishiki beers (five bottles, all ¥566), but the only other offering is three from Kagawa (¥300-¥350), a brewery I have never tried.

Opening hours
10.00-20.00 daily

Location/Map
新橋マリンビル1 1F, 新橋2-19-10, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-0004

Directions
From Shinbashi metro station leave via exit 2. Turn back on yourself at the top of the stairs and the shop is on the first corner.

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 2: Higashi Ginza

Another couple of satellite shops, this time in Higashi Ginza.

Gunmachanchi


So, this is where the Gunma mascot, Gunmachan lives, if you believe the name of the shop. I am not sure if he helps brew any of the beer sold here. Only a couple of breweries, both with a couple of beers, so not a wide selection, but neither are really seen around that much. Oze No Yukidoke have both their White Weizen and Brown Weizen available in bottles for ¥380, which is a pretty good price if you ask me. In addition to this, there are a couple of bottles from Kawaba for ¥420 a piece.

Opening hours
10.00-19.00 daily

Location/Map
銀座5-13-9, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061

Directions
Very easy to get to! From Higashiginza metro station leave via exit 4. At the top of the stairs you will see it on your left, on the corner.

Iwate Ginga Plaza


The satellite shop with the widest selection so far. Four different breweries and a total of 20 different beers. First of all Baeren; seven different beers including some seasonals which was a nice surprise, all going for ¥350-¥400. Next, Iwatekura, four of their regulars, all at ¥480. Have seen their beers around on tap, but the bottles don't crop up that often. Then there was Zumona, who had three beers all at ¥420, and finally Ginga Kogen, who had six beers in a mixture of bottles and cans from ¥260-¥300. I will be back here definitely.

Opening hours
10.30-19.00 daily
but bizarrely closes at 17.00 on the last day of every month

Location/Map
南海東京ビル1F, 銀座5-15-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061

Directions
Again very easy to get to! From Higashiginza metro station leave via exit 6 and turn back on yourself at the top of the stairs. The shop is pretty much in front of you.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 1: Ginza Itchome

This is the first of a series of posts about 'Satellite Shops' in Tokyo. These are basically shops that sell produce from a specific prefecture in order to promote tourism in these areas and the food and drink that these different regions make. This is of interest to us, because these shops often include craft beer in their products, so it is a good way of getting hold of beer from far away parts of Japan. The depth of selection varies from shop to shop. Some carry only a single (possibly uninteresting) beer and I won't include these to start with. Others have a few breweries regular line up of beers. Some even had seasonals.
I will try my best to group them in posts by shop location (rather than geographical location of the prefecture), and will mention the breweries available and prices. These posts are not intended as a recommendation of places you have to check out as they are after all pretty much just tourism information centres that happen to sell food and drink, but more as a guide if you are looking for a particular brewery's beers. That's why I am not going into as much depth as I have on other posts. In any case, I hope this is of some use for you. Also if anyone finds any of these shops that I haven't yet featured, please get in contact as I would like to put as many relevant ones on here as possible. Thanks.

Akita - Akita Furusato Kan


Pretty good example of one of these shops to start with as it had beers from three different breweries. There were five regulars from Aqula all priced at ¥525, four from Tazawako at ¥498 and four from Kohan No Mori at ¥525. There are a few other Satellite shops in the same arcade but the others weren't so good. Some may be added at a later date.

Opening hours
10.00-19.00 daily

Location/Map
東京交通会館1F,有楽町 2-10-1, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0006

Directions
From Yurakucho metro station, take exit D8 which will put you in the arcade. The Akita shop is at the other end though, on the first floor. If you walk round outside, there is a big OOII which is at the correct end of the building and the shop is just inside the door. I have placed the pin in broadly the right place on the map, so click the link above if you are having trouble finding it.

Okinawa - Washita


Three different breweries here too. Two different Helios cans (¥241 and ¥350), two bottles from Nihede (¥525) and four different bottles from Ishigakijima (¥498). Don't see the last two breweries around much either.

Opening hours
11.00-19.30 daily

Location/Map
マルイト銀座ビル1F, 銀座 1-3-9, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 100-0006

Directions
From Ginza Itchome metro station, take exit 3. Washita is next to exit 3 when you get to street level.

Ibaraki Marche


A big selection of Ibaraki's most famous brewery's beers here, eight bottles from Hitachino Nest including some that you don't see around so often. They also had gift packs with glasses. Regular sized bottles ranged from ¥389-¥420. The larger Nipponia bottle was ¥788. There were also four Yamizomorino bottles, all for ¥525. These seem to be from a brewery called Daigo, but I have never heard of it or seen it around. Worth investigating.

Opening hours
10.30-20.00 daily

Location/Map
紺屋ビル1F, 銀座 1-2-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Directions
From Ginza Itchome metro station, again take exit 3. Go past Washita and Ibaraki Marche is on the right hand side under the bridge. The pin on the map makes it look like it is on the motorway. It isn't.

Brewer links

For what it's worth, I have added a section on the right hand side with links to all the breweries mentioned on here. Some of the websites have English on them, but most are Japanese only. Hope this is of some use to you!