Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Beer Republic The Grub - Yoyogi Uehara

Just a brief post today on a fairly new place that has opened in Yoyogi Uehara. I initially wasn't sure whether I should put this on here as there is a lot of non-Craft beer there. But considering that I seem to keep going there I thought it owed it to them to publicise their place a bit.

- Seven taps, four of regular macro stuff, one slightly rotating BrewDog tap (which is usually Punk IPA, but occasionally a seasonal appears) and two taps of craft beer. These vary between Japanese craft and imported craft (US or Mikkeller recently). Served in two sizes, glass and pint. Glass is around 330ml I reckon and for the guests, normally costs around ¥800. Pint is a US pint and is around ¥1050.
- Large bottle menu with a focus on Belgian and US stuff. Also a page in the menu of limited stock bottles with some 750ml stuff included.
- Very nice pub food. Big selection of dishes, decent vegetarian selections too. Think they really take a lot of care with their food.
- Looks a bit like a British pub. They have a couple of screens showing sports but with the sound down. Lots of seating.
- They now have a couple of 'happy hours' too. Daily from 17:00-19:00 you can get ¥200 off pints and glasses of their guest craft beers. And you can get the same discount between 03:00 and 04:30 from Monday to Thursday.

Very pleased we have another place in Uehara, really close to the station too and this one is a very different kind of place to Cafe De Tete. It's considerably cheaper and is very much a pub rather than a bar/cafe. They are open extremely late and publish their taplist on facebook daily and there is no cover charge, so if you are fussy (like me) you can keep an eye on it and then just pop in for one when there's something you want to drink. In spite of the limited selection of decent taps, they do seem to care about their beer. They recently were selling three different aged Belgian magnums by the glass as a Christmas special. The staff are very friendly and it's a very relaxed place. The big downside is that smoking is allowed. This isn't such a problem at the moment, as it's a fairly big place and not so busy, but I suspect that one chain-smoking patron on an adjacent table could quite easily ruin your evening. But I don't want to put you off as this is a place that I like going to and I hope succeeds.

Japanese breweries I've seen on tap here:
Minoh
Beer Buddy
Sankt Gallen
North Island

Opening Hours:
NEW OPENING HOURS FROM NOV. 2015
Monday-Saturday, 17:00-06:00 (!)
Sunday, 17:00-02:00

Location/map:
第二小林ビル 2F, 上原 1-32-15, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6804-8714

Links:

Facebook
Blog
Ratebeer listing

Friday, 12 December 2014

Blue Room


A brief post on this really nice place in Kamakura. The Blue Room is a small craft beer and pizza place on the main shopping street in Kamakura. As far as I know it's the only beer bar in Kamakura at the moment and although I could only pop in for a couple of drinks, if I find myself in Kamakura again I will definitely make more time for it.


- Small place. Four seats at the counter and room for about eight at a few tables.
- 10 taps and one handpump available but only six kegs on when we were there.
- Two sizes, 250ml for ¥540 and 500ml for ¥1080. Three 1/4 pint tasters of any beers for ¥1080. Prices seem to have gone up a bit since I went. Thanks to Davido for letting me know. Small is now ¥600, but ¥800 for Kyoto regular beers which is pretty expensive! Large is ¥1100 (¥1400 Kyoto) and the flight is now ¥1100.
- Taplists occasionally on their facebook page. They sometimes have Yorocco beer!
- Really nice pizza, and nice atmosphere.
- No cover charge!

Very nice, and highly recommended if you are in the area. I'll be back as soon as I can. Have added a couple of pictures as the bar is slightly tucked away on the second floor with only a Japanese sign outside, so one picture of the sign at the entrance and one of the front of the bar. Please follow the map below for directions, but you need to leave the JR station from the East exit and proceed up the main shopping street for about 300m.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Baird
Bay Brewing
North Island
Hideji
(and sometimes Yorocco!)

Opening Hours:
Monday-Wednesday, Friday, 17:00-23:00
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays, 12:00-14:00, 17:00-23:00
Closed Thursday

Location/map:
秋山ビル 2F, 小町 2-8-9, Kamakura, Kanagawa



Telephone:
050-3478-1877

Links:

Facebook

Ratebeer listing

Thursday, 11 December 2014

T. Y. Harbor

Today, a post on a brewery/brewpub/restaurant in Shinagawa, T. Y. Harbor. I had been meaning to go here for a while as I had heard mixed reports and was keen to decide for myself. So, I finally made it there a couple of Fridays ago with a group of friends.
My first impression was that it's an absolutely massive place. The complex is huge with a small bar area at the entrance which, to be honest, if compared with most beer bars in Tokyo is actually quite big. However, it seems small compared with the restaurant area which must have seating for at least a few hundred. The scale is quite shocking when compared to the bars I go to most often. The bar area is next to what I presume is part of the brewery, and the restaurant is split into two parts, one inside, and a terrace which is covered, enclosed and heated, but still has a feeling of being outside with its dockland views. The whole feeling of the place is pretty swish and quite slick. There are loads of staff buzzing around and the service was very good. They did keep taking the beer menu away though. Maybe they don't have enough to go round! In the restaurant I couldn't help feel a little out of place. It seems that the place is very popular with business people and people who like fancy places locations (huge presumption and generalisation, I know). Perhaps the bar area is a bit more laid-back. But after I had made it halfway down the beer list I began to relax a little.
So on to the main attraction, or what I at least expected to be the main attraction, the beer. They had eight beers available on tap, six of their own (five regulars (Pale, Wheat, Amber, IPA and Imperial Stout) and one seasonal) and two guests, one Japanese craft and one US import. The prices were pretty reasonable considering the swishness of the place. Beers were served in five sizes, small (250ml), medium (420ml), large (650ml), boot (1000ml) and pitcher (1800ml). Prices for all their beers were the same, ¥550, ¥880, ¥1250, ¥1900 and ¥3500 respectively. The guests were a little more expensive, the US import ¥650 and ¥1050 for small and medium and the Japanese guest ¥580 and ¥950. If you compare these to other bars, they're not so expensive, but maybe not exactly cheap considering it's their own beer. I've seen their beers at iBrew before where they were cheaper, so the same gripe as with the BrewDog bar I guess, but to a much less significant extent. In my opinion the regular house beers were pretty safe and a little uninspiring, but everyone has different tastes. One of them I really didn't like though, but everyone else didn't seem to have the same objections as I did to it. The seasonal beer was a IIPA and was really nice. Surprisingly really, really nice. Their guests were from the extremely safe (in my opinion) Coronado from the US and from Loco from Chiba, which was a bit more interesting. The guests seem to change every couple of months.
I'm not sure this is really somewhere that beer geeks need to go. In spite of it being a brewery the emphasis definitely seems to be on the food, which was nice, but also pretty expensive. The vegetarian selection was very limited though which surprised me given the size of the operation and the fact that they do seem to be an international kind of place. It reminded me a lot of Brew Wharf in London, which is a stupid comparison as I think it's now closed and many people who read this will probably not have been there, but they also seemed to be a fancy restaurant with the attached brewery being more of an afterthought. It's nice that they don't have a cover charge, but to be honest it would be a bit cheeky given the food prices. The bread from the attached bakery was really nice and actually quite reasonably priced. They have a few other outlets around Tokyo which are listed on their group website and have different food specialities I believe. I guess the beer will be the same at these though, so I probably won't be trying them. The bar area seems to be open at lunchtime and all day at weekends and on holiday, so if you are interested in trying the beers, this is probably the place to go to. To sum it up in a few words, fancy place, nice food, average beer, bit expensive, probably not really for me. But I'm sure many people will like it, so if it sounds good to you, give it a try.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
T.Y Harbor
Loco

Opening Hours (bar):
Monday-Friday, 11:30-14:00 (last orders), 17:00-22:00 (last orders)

Saturday, 11:30-22:00 (last orders)
Sunday & Holidays, 11:30-21:00 (last orders)

Location/map:
2-1-3 東品川, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
It's closest to Tennoz Isle station, but maybe Shinagawa is a bit more of a convenient destination. A map from Shinagawa station's east exit is below. It takes about 15 mins to walk from there. There are two Tennoz Isle stations, one on the Tokyo Monorail and one on the Rinkai line. They are both pretty close, so I won't write directions. Please check this map.



Telephone:
03-5479-4555


Links:
Website
Facebook page
Ratebeer listing

Monday, 8 December 2014

Craft Beer Market Koenji

The fifth Craft Beer Market, and it's a bit of a departure for them. Well, in terms of geographical location. Pretty much everything else is the same as the other branches, so it might be worth you checking the post on the Jinbocho branch for the fine details. I will sum things up here though.
The Koenji Craft Beer Market has seating at a couple of counters for around 15 and quite a few small tables in the back, probably room for about 20-30 at these. There is also a small standing area, which I think seems to work as a waiting area for a table if you turn up without a reservation. Although obviously if everything's booked you might be waiting a while. There are 30 taps and 2 handpumps, and the pricing is the same as the other branches (¥480 for glass, and ¥780 for a pint) and like the other branches there is a cover charge of ¥300, so it's not really the place to pop in for just one. The food here seems to be grill focused, and quite meat heavy. The opening hours seem to vary branch to branch, and at this one we are open a little longer at the weekend, although I'm not sure if they have the same crazy system that they have at Mitsukoshimae with some strangeness between lunch and dinner. They publish their taplist on their facebook daily, so you can always see what's on, which is useful too. If you do want to visit, you probably need to turn up early or make a reservation though as they seemed pretty busy when I went.
I'm pleased that they are advancing out of businessman areas, and it's likely that I'll be coming here a bit more often as I am in Koenji quite a bit. I think them opening might be bad news for smoky Bankan, which aside from the smoking is a very nice place but can't match CBM for prices or for non-smokiness. Bakushu Kobo is just around the corner, but I think they offer something a bit different from CBM. All in all though, it means that Koenji has enough places for a mini pub-crawl, although the ¥300 cover charge at Craft Beer Market makes that idea less appealing. However, I like Craft Beer Markets and they always seem to have something good on. I'll be heading back when I'm in the area.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Kure
Nihonkai Club
Fujizakura Kogen
Coedo
Iwatekura
Harvestmoon
Brimmer
Johana
Brewmaster
Beer Buddy
Oh La Ho
Baird
Yo-Ho
Ise Kadoya
Shiga Kogen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-23:30

Saturday, Sunday & Holidays, 12:00-16:00 (lunch), 16:00-23:30 (dinner)

Location/map:
2-22-6 高円寺北, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
From Koenji JR station, leave via the north exit, and cross the square. Head north up the road in the north-west corner of the square. Carry on up this road till the end and Craft Beer Market will be right in front of you.



Telephone:
03-5356-7982


Links:
Website
Twitter
Facebook page
Ratebeer listing

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Cactus Burrito

Today, a brief post about a great restaurant that has good beer. Cactus Burrito is in suburban Kawasaki near Musashi-Shinjo station. I first became aware of them after a facebook post about them buying beer for the restaurant at Antenna America, and given that Mexican is one of my favourite foods, and one that is normally pretty good for vegetarians, it was only a matter of time before I went there. The first time was about six months ago, but I forgot to take a photo so had to go back. Which was absolutely fine with me!
Cactus Burrito is a fairly small place. There are seats for five at the counter and for 12 at tables, so if you haven't made a reservation, it's probably a good idea to get there early. The food is great, very reasonably priced and vegetarian friendly too. But as this is a beer blog, I should talk about the beer. There is one tap of macro, but the fridge is full of bottled goodness, mainly from the US, but also with a selection of bottles from the local brewery Brimmer, including their seasonals, which is nice. The US imports are from a good mix of importers and in a good mix of styles. Last time we had a brown ale, Belgian IPA, cream ale and imperial stout, so it's not just a fridge full of IPAs as you might expect. Breweries represented on our last visit included Stillwater, Sierra Nevada, Stone, Victory, Pelican, SKA and Anderson Valley, but there is definitely some rotation, so who knows what will be there.
I really like this place. Their food is fantastic and it's nice to be able to eat Mexican and not only have the choice of Corona or Sol. I'd be there a lot more often if I lived closer, but it's still worth making your way there. They speak English, so don't be worried if you can't speak Japanese. They also sell their own homemade hot sauce, pickled jalapenos and some interesting books and merchandise which are well worth checking out.

Japanese breweries' bottles available when I visited:
Brimmer (and lots of US imports)

Opening Hours:
(BE CAREFUL THOUGH, THEY NORMALLY CLOSE ONE DAY A WEEK, SO CHECK THEIR BLOG OR CALL BEFORE YOU VISIT MID-WEEK)
Monday-Friday, 17:00-22:30
Saturday, 12:30-15:30, 17:00-22:00
Sunday, 17:00-22:00

Location/map:
千年 1045, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki

Directions:
From Musashi Shinjo station, turn right after the barriers and leave via the south exit. Head directly across the square and down the road that Lawson is on. Take the fifth right turn and go straight for about 200m. Cactus Burrito is on the left, just after the fifth side street.



Telephone:
044-777-0555

Links:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
 

Friday, 5 December 2014

World Beer Market


THIS PLACE HAS NOW MOVED TO THE OTHER SIDE OF KITA SENJU STATION. CHECK OUT THE NEW POST HERE

Today, a fantastic beer shop in Kita Senju. I visited here a year or so ago, and it was good. But since then they seem to have considerably upped their game. Maybe it's not particularly convenient unless you are in North East Tokyo, but as it is pretty near a useful transportation hub, it's not really so far out of the way. They also do mail order, so if you are living in Japan rather than just visiting, it's a very good place from which to get some very good beer delivered to your door.

There's not really so much to write about the place so I'll stick to the basics. They have one of the largest selections of Japanese Craft beer I have seen (more than Tanakaya I think, certainly from a wider range of breweries). Alongside this, they stock imported beer from Belgium, Holland, the UK, Germany, the US, New Zealand, Scandinavia and a lot more countries. The selection is mainly focused on Belgium, the US and Japan though. To check out what they have and their prices, it's worth looking on their mail order site or check their facebook where they regularly post pictures of new stock. They also have a wide range of branded glassware in different styles.

I pass through Kita Senju from time to time and this shop was so good that I will definitely be popping in every time I am there. The prices were reasonable and they had a lot of stock that you really don't see around that often. It's well worth checking out, as I'm sure you'll find something that you haven't drunk before. Great place!

Japanese breweries' bottles available when I visited:
Baird
Fujizakura Kogen
Shiga Kogen
Harvestmoon
Sankt Gallen
Coedo
Oh La Ho
Baeren
Minoh
Hitachino Nest
Daisen G
Kagua
Iwatekura
Swan Lake
Loco
August
Hanyu
Yo-Ho
Kinshachi
Kuninocho
Ise Kadoya
Nasu Kogen
and more!

Opening Hours:
Daily, 10:00-22:00

Location/map
千住旭町 40-22, Adachi-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
Exit Kita Senju station on the east side. If you come out on the west, there is a tunnel under the station to take you to the east side. Follow the road east, crossing the first side street and past the square. World Beer Market is on the left hand side about 50m after the square. It's tough to miss as it is on the main street and is quite a big place.



Telephone:
03-3882-2508

Links:
Website/Rakuten store
Facebook
Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gremlin

Finally! This is the place I have been waiting for. A really nice bar, serving good beer at a good price, close to my house. Guess I have been a bit picky, but this is the kind of place I can see myself going to often, even if I have to walk 20 minutes to it, instead of the five minutes I might have hoped for. Maybe I should move house.

So, Gremlin is a great little bar in the basement restaurant area attached to Hatagaya station. This restaurant area is maybe a little dated but Gremlin is the opposite and has a very nice feel. Newly refitted with a nice design, there are seats for ten at the counter and five tables for about four people. The master is a rockabilly fan who loves real ale (which explains the music and beer choice to some extent) and is a very friendly guy. He spent some time in England, so will be able to help you if your Japanese is not good. They serve a limited food menu (delicious dressing on the salad!), but the place is focused on its beer.

They have six taps, three keg and three hand pumps and all serve Japanese craft beer. I guess it's similar to the Cat & Cask in that respect. There were a good mix of breweries and styles available and it's nice to get to try some Japanese beer on handpump. I'm not particularly a 'real ale' person, I just like to drink nice beers, rather than focus on the dispense method. However, I have to admit the 'real' version of Loco's General Winter was very nice, with the handpump adding something that you don't get from the bottle version. Beers are served in two sizes, regular and large, with most beers being ¥650 and ¥950 respectively. Occasionally, stronger beers are a little extra, but really not much more (¥50 or so). I would guess that the sizes are somewhere in the region of 250ml and 450ml, but next time I'm there, I'll ask and update.

As you may have guessed, I'm really pleased this place has opened. It's somewhere I feel that I can happily call my local. There's no cover charge and a good range of beers at good prices. For me, places like this definitely have an edge over some of the places with more taps, because these places feel like they have been opened because the owners love beer and bars, rather than love making money out of what is for some people a cash cow at the moment. As craft beer in Japan continues to grow in popularity, I hope we see more of these kind of places open. These are the ones we should be giving our money to, and I intend to do just that.

Japanese breweries on tap when I first visited:
Shiga Kogen
Nasu Kogen
Swan Lake
Coedo
Iwatekura
Loco

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday, 15:00-23:30
Closed Monday

Location/map
ゴールデンセンター B1F, 1-3-1 幡ヶ谷, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
Easy! It's in the shopping centre attached to Hatagaya station. If you are coming out of the ticket barriers, turn left, then right up the stairs, walk past McDonalds and it's on the right hand side a little way down. As it's in the station, probably no need for a map.

Telephone: 
03-6300-5723
 

Links:
Ratebeer listing
Facebook

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 7: Shinagawa area

A quick post on another Satellite shop that I've found. It's another Akita one, and with not as much stock as the other Akita one, but thought it was worth mentioning in case you're in the area, as there are a lot of hotels here. I also thought that maybe some more will crop up nearby, so it might be worth starting a Shinagawa post.

Akita Bisaikan


Only two breweries represented here, Akita and Tazawako, and mainly their regular beers.  There were three bottles from Aqula, all at ¥540, and four from Tazawako, at ¥513. Like I said above, there's more stock in the Yurakucho/Ginza Itchome Akita shop.

Opening hours
11.00-23.00 daily

Location/Map
ウィング高輪WEST-III, 高輪 4-10-8, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Directions
From Shinagawa JR station, leave via the Takanawa Exit (the West exit). Cross the main road and head up the hill by the side of the shopping centre. The shop is in West III in Takanawa wing. If you're going up the hill turn left and go up the stairs just before the big red Ajinomoto sign. Or use the map. Might be easier!