Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pump Craft Beer Bar



A brief post on Pump, a fairly new bar that opened late last year between Ikebukuro and Mejiro.

- About 500m south of Ikebukuro on the main road.
- Around 20 seats and place for about ten at the counter.
- Bright and new decor with quite a young atmosphere.
- Half, ¥500-¥700, Pint, ¥840-¥1180
- Ten taps, two of which were imports
- ¥300 cover charge which gets you a bowl of nuts

There’s not much else in this area between stations, so it’s definitely filing a gap. Baird beers were very reasonably priced. Selection when we visited seemed a little safe, but they had some interesting stuff on the ‘coming soon’ list. To find your way there, it's probably simplest to leave Ikebukuro station by one of the exits on the East. If you can find the Seibu department store you are on the right side of the station, and the bar is on the road that runs along the front of Seibu.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Minoh
Bay Brewing
Baird
Hitachino Nest
Kure
Iwatekura
Beer Herun

Opening Hours:
Tuesday - Friday, 17:00-23:30
Saturday, 15:00-23:30
Sunday and holidays, 15:00-22:00

Location/map:
南池袋 3-8-3 101, Toshima-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5927-9733

Links:
Facebook
Twitter
Ratebeer listing

Pigalle

Pigalle is a European beer bar in Sangenjaya, a little west of Shibuya on the Den-en-toshi line (which incidentally has a reputation of being one of the most crowded lines in Tokyo). A short post as they don't have much Japanese beer here, but that's not really the point of the place!

- Very small place, only five seats and limited standing room, and can get quite busy as it is pretty popular.
- Six taps, of which two are usually Japanese craft. Import taps can range from the exciting (Tilquin Gueuze) to the fairly boring (Abbot Ale…) but maybe that’s just my taste.
- Nice, bar-branded, wine glass style glassware, the size of which is a bit difficult to judge. I’d probably guess at around 300ml. Prices range from ¥900-¥1200, so it’s not so cheap, but some of the beers are quite unique imports.
- Facebook page is good for keeping up to date with what is on tap.
- Has a big fridge with lots of interesting bottles to drink on site or take away. Check the prices first though as I think the ones displayed on the tickets are the takeaway prices and if you want to drink in it’s a little bit more.

Would come here often if it was near my house. Have previously tried to come and it was too busy to get in, so if you are determined to visit, it makes sense to arrive around opening time. Also, they sometimes travel overseas so also worth checking their Facebook to check they are open before you make the trip. There might not be much Japanese stuff here, but it's a great destination for any beer lover who is in the area and wants to drink interesting imports.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Nihonkai Club
Hansharo

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday, 16:00-01:00
Friday & Saturday, 16:00-02:00
Sunday & Holidays, 14:00-22:00
Closed Monday

Location/map:
太子堂 2-15-8, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6805-2455

Links:

Facebook

Website
Ratebeer listing
Twitter

Le Petit L'Ouest


Another great bottle shop with a decent selection, in an area not blessed with many options.

- Bottle shop in Shimokitazawa with a good selection of Japanese beers and imports at decent prices.
- Several fridges full and plenty of Japanese stuff
- Lots of US imports from a mix of importers. Nice variety.
- Drink on site available apparently, but not sure how you go about doing this, and I think you might be standing outside the front of the shop
- Nice option if you don’t fancy the surly staff at Ushitora, which to be honest I don’t think I ever will anymore.

Was pleasantly surprised by the selection of domestic and import stuff here and the prices are decent enough. If you're heading there from the station it's easiest from the South exit.

Japanese breweries bottles available when I visited
Ise Kadoya
Shiga Kogen
Minoh
Hansharo
Kinshachi
Kagua
Yo Ho
Oh La Ho
Sankt Gallen
Minamishinshu
Baird
Fujizakura Kogen
Swan Lake
Hitachino Nest
Iwatekura

Opening Hours:
Monday, 16:00-23:00
Wednesday-Friday, 12:00-14:00 and 16:00-23:00
Saturday, 12:00-23:00  (sometimes from 14:00)
Sunday and holidays, 12:00-21:00  (sometimes from 14:00)

Location/map:
代沢 5-28-16, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-3421-0932

Links:
Website
Facebook
Ratebeer listing
Twitter

Hitachino Brewing Lab Kanda

This is the new 'brew-on-site' location for Kiuchi, best know for their Hitachino Nest beers, just over the river from Akihabara. They have combined this with a small taproom hosting a wide range of their beers, including some special Brew Lab beers which I guess are made on site.
They have a total of ten taps, but when I visited there were only seven on. Five were regular Nest beers but two were Brew Lab specials. These were quite interesting. I was very pleased to see a sour beer called ‘Oak Barrel’ as not many brewers in Japan make sour beers (at least not intentionally!). The other special when I was there was a Galaxy single hop Session IPA. All beers are ¥680, which seems pretty reasonable to me. They come in a range of glassware in different shapes, so it’s a little difficult to judge the size, but they felt like they were decent measures for the price. The system is a little different to other places in that you order at the counter and pay as you go, rather than running up a tab.
The place itself is quite small, but they seem to have got a decent amount of seating into a small space. There are seats at tables for around ten and then maybe room for another ten at a couple of counters and maybe a small area for standing. There is brewing equipment on show, but I’m not sure of this is the gear they use to make the beers as it seems the space might be a bit limited. Maybe it is though. The decor is nice and modern and the huge bonus is that it is open through the day (hooray!). There are really not enough places in Tokyo that open in the daytime in my opinion. When I went on a Friday afternoon, there was a steady trickle of customers so I think the demand is there, even if it is limited. In case you are in need of them, the toilets are in the shopping centre and a few minutes walk, so don't leave it till the last minute!
In conclusion, I’m happy this place has opened. It’s a good opportunity to try some of the Nest beers that don’t appear so often on tap and the Brew Lab beers mean that there will probably always be a good reason to visit. I wish they would publish their beer list on their Facebook page or website as I think this would get a lot more people to visit. I’ll definitely be going back sometime soon though.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Hitachino Nest


Opening Hours:

Monday-Saturday, 11:00-23:00
Sundays and holidays, 11:00-21:00

Location/map:
 
神田須田町1-25-4 N1区画, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
 

Directions: 
From Awajicho station for the sake of simplicity. It's equally close to Akihabara, but that's a much bigger station, so it's a bit simpler this way. Leave the station from exit A3 and carry straight on along the street for about 250m, even when the main road forks off to the right. Just as you meet the next main road and with the train tracks overhead, you'll see a fancy looking shopping centre on your left which runs along the riverside. The Brewing Lab is in here, in the first unit as you enter.



Telephone:  
03-3254-3434

Links:
Website
Facebook page
Ratebeer listing

Regional Produce/Satellite Shops 8: Iidabashi area

Spotted another Satellite shop and from a prefecture that I don't think I've found one for yet. This time we're in Iidabashi and it's Aomori.

Aomori Hokusaikan


Three breweries here, one bottle from Minami Tsugaru brewery (never heard of it!) for ¥800, one from Osore brewery (never heard of it!) for ¥801 and one from Oirase (have heard of it) for ¥486. The first two are certainly a bit pricier than I would have expected but they seem to be very rare so I guess that comes at a price. Can't vouch for their quality, but I guess I should give them a go some time.

Opening hours
10:00-19:30 daily

Location/Map
富士見2-3-11, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Directions
From Iidabashi metro station leave by exit B2a or from the JR station leave by the West exit. Turn left and cross the first side street. After this, it's about 50m along and on the left hand side, underneath a Dennys.