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:
Ise Kadoya
North Island
Swan Lake

Opening Hours:
Daily 17.00-06.00

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

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. 


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Steve said...

The one time I was here was for a nomihodai marshalled by Tim Eustace (about whom I have not heard much lately).
If you have a clutch of beer drinkers, inquire with the management about its terms.
It is a sufficient venue. But I was more entranced by the other people in our party. Phred Kaufman (Rogue Brwg.'s importer) ventured from Sapporo to attend it.

starbird said...

My favorite Japanese craft beer bar. It's all draft (no bottles!) and all Japanese (no imports!). A very pure expression. And, as you noted, a lot of taps. They only ever order one keg at a time of anything, so they'll typically run out of two or three beers a night, and replace them with something else the next day, so the beer menu turns over fast.

The staff are veterans of the Japanese craft beer scene, particularly the women (Tako-san, the owner, and Take-chan); they know all the beer and all the beer people. I too have run into Phred K there, and Taka-san of Aoi Brewing in Shizuoka (and formerly of Hitachino Nest), and various foreign brewers.