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
Craft Liquors

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

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

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.


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