Wednesday, 18 September 2013
You would have thought that Thrash Zone would be a somewhat divisive place. The decor is pretty plain concrete apart from the metal paraphernalia, which actually takes up quite a large amount of the wall space. There are stools at the bar for around 15 and a couple of tables, but this is predominately a standing place. It will come as no surprise to hear that the music policy is metal orientated. However, sometimes I feel it errs on the side of being a bit tame mainstream stuff rather than the thrash that you might expect. On one visit they seemed to be playing exclusively Scandinavian hardcore which was pretty fun and a nice change from Ozzy Osbourne which I think is a bit tame. However, in spite of these potentially off-putting (for some) characteristics, everyone who goes there seems to really like it. This is probably something to do with its unique character. And also, quite a lot to do with beer...
So, the beer. Thrash Zone specializes in hoppy, bitter and fairly high strength beers. Understandably this often means US imports. However, there are also Japanese variations with these characteristics too. It's not all IPAs though. They often set aside a few taps for different kinds of beer. I remember seeing Minoh's Stout here, and on my last visit they had Old Rasputin on tap. There are 15 taps and these are split fairly evenly between US imports and Japanese stuff. Check out their website for what's on at the moment. Amongst these Japanese variations are Thrash Zones house beers. They used to just get their DIPA Hopslave brewed for them at Atsugi, but in the last year or so they have started brewing their own. There are usually around 5 of the Thrash Zone Brew Labo beers on tap, almost exclusively bitter, hoppy and strong, but with variations in styles as much as these characteristics allow. Beers are served in two sizes, the smaller being a fairly decent size (maybe around 300ml, my volume estimating skills once again are weak) and the larger is US pint. The prices are often astoundingly cheap: small from ¥500-600 and large from around ¥700-1000. This is not just for their own beers (which are at the lower end of the range and also very nice) but also the US imports. This makes Thrash Zone one of the cheapest places I have ever been to in Japan.
So, definitely a place that everyone should try at least once. I know a lot of people who love this place. I always make a point of coming here when I am Yokohama, and given it's location near the main train station it is usually where I end up before getting on the Toyoko line back to Tokyo (and struggling not to fall asleep). It is definitely a pretty unique place and I am sure that people who may have been put off by the metal theme, find themselves reassured by the good beer selection and excellent prices. On occasion it can be pretty loud and noisy (apparently visiting navy people sometimes come here) but equally I have been here and been one of only two customers, the other being a young well-dressed lady. So, all in all, pretty unpredictable. Apart from the fact that beer will be good and cheap, so sometimes such predictability is not such a bad thing.