Tuesday, 27 October 2015

T.T Brewery

Another brief post on another place in an area that is at this stage fairly unrepresented on this blog. I have been aware of the T.T Brewery and of the existence of their sour pilsner for a while but haven't been in the right place. After a Kawsaki Frontale defeat to Yokohama F Marinos (truly appalling referee, but probably still a deserved defeat...) I made my way there to drown my sorrows in sour pilsner. 

- Pretty small place. Counter seating for ten and table for about eight. I guess they must brew somewhere else, but as far as this blog is concerned, I'm calling it (inaccurately) a brewpub. Maybe brewery tap would be more accurate.
- Seven taps of their own beer, of varying quality. Probably not a place for beer snobs who could probably pick holes in the brewing. Not sure if the sour pilsner was initially a mistake or a ground-breaking style mash-up, but it seems to be a permanent fixture and it was actually quite nice. The porter was very nice too.
-Beers served in three sizes, small, medium and large. The small must have been about 300ml. The large looked absolutely huge. Prices ranged from ¥480-¥630 (S), ¥680-¥930 (M) and ¥880-¥1230 (L). No cover charge, but tax was added on at the end so be prepared for that.
-Unfortunately, smoking is allowed, but I didn't notice it too much, so maybe the ventilation is good.
- Food is regular pub stuff and was quite nice. Apparently they do an all you can eat, which is good news for kuishinbos.

I went here with some preconceptions and some of these proved to be right, but all in all it was a nice experience. The place is nice enough, the food's good, the beers are pretty cheap and some of them are pretty nice. I think the quality could be a bit hit and miss, so maybe we were lucky. I like the fact that they are doing their own thing though and would encourage them to keep on going. Much easier to open a bar and serve the same old import taps and cheap kegs. So, hats off to the T.T guys. If you're in the area and you want to drink beers that you won't find anywhere else, this is the place to go. If you are a big name loving IPA/Imperial Stout only kind of person, better go somewhere else.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
T. T


Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 17:00-24:00
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays, 12:00-24:00
 
Location/map:
 
小川町2-1, 美須ビル1F, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa



Telephone: 
044-201-4282

Links:
Facebook page

Ratebeer listing

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Square's Cafe (NOW CLOSED)


NOW CLOSED IT SEEMS

A quick post on a cafe in an area that is pretty empty on the tokyobeedrinker map at the moment. I was not aware of this place till Davido told me about it. Thanks a lot Davido for the many tips for new places you have given me. A short post because it's probably not somewhere you would travel across town for, but if you are in the area and thirsty, it works pretty well.

- 15 taps of Japanese craft beer. Although not all were available when I visited, but that was a Saturday lunchtime, so probably not prime beer drinking time. Served in three sizes, 240ml, 360ml and 480ml. Prices range from ¥600-¥650 (S), ¥850-¥900 (M) and ¥1050-¥1100 (L). Beer flight of four 120ml glasses available for ¥1200.
- Decent range of breweries, not just focusing on cheap kegs. Shiga Kogen were in there, which is good by me. Bottle selection is much less interesting than the taps and focuses on world beers. The kind of stuff you would expect to find in a bigger supermarket.
- Primarily a cafe, so lots of people there eating lunch and drinking coffee, but they are fine with you just drinking beer. No cover charge!
- Big place. A few counters and lots of seating. Too many to count to be honest. Including the patio, it must be approaching 100 I guess.

So, if you find yourself in Ota-ku with a thirst, this is the place to go. Not sure how often their taplist changes, but it's a decent selection. It has satisfyingly long opening hours. This is another place you can drink during the day. It has a slight family restaurant feel to it, but it's a perfectly nice place to spend a little while drinking some nice beers. Oh, and a quick tip. Leave the JR station by the east exit. The south one takes you a very long way round.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Ise Kadoya

Shiga Kogen
Minamishinshu
Hansharo
Bay
Fujizakura Kogen

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 10:00-23:00
Saturday, 11:00-23:00
Sunday & Holidays, 11:00-20:00
 
Location/map:

蒲田5-44-5, Ota-ku, Tokyo 



Telephone: 
03-6424-8821

Links:
Facebook page  (beware, the map is wrong on the facebook page)
Gurunavi page

Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Mikkeller Tokyo (CLOSED) New location coming soon hopefully



Finally getting round to writing about the new Mikkeller bar that has fairly recently opened here in Tokyo. This is certainly a place that is going to divide opinion for reasons that I will go into in due course. The bar opened with a free drink giveaway which unsurprisingly resulted in a huge queue and I imagine created quite a buzz. I didn’t go. I was excited that Mikkeller were opening a bar in my (kind of) neighbourhood, but didn’t fancy getting all squashed up in order to get a free beer. Since the hugely popular opening things seem to have calmed down a bit which is a relief. I walk past quite often on the way home from work and it always seems to be buzzing along, but not horribly overcrowded, which is pretty good by me.
If you have been to any of the other Mikkeller bars you will have some idea of what to expect. The decor is modern, lots of wood and Scandinavian (so say people who have more idea than me about these things). It’s certainly a nice looking place. My initial worries about the lack of seating have abated slightly. Inside there are two tables for four, two tables for two, a couple of counters and a long bench seat with little tables in front of it. All in all, there is probably seating for around 30-40 people. In more temperate months this is augmented by a bit more seating outside the front of the bar and I have to admit, it’s pretty nice to sit out there (unless you have a heavy smoker sitting nearby). All in all, it’s a nice comfortable space.
On to the beers, and to the prices (probably the thing that most people will complain about). There are twenty taps which are generally speaking split 15/5 between Mikkeller beers and Japanese craft selections, although occasionally this seems to vary slightly. Beers are served in two sizes with everything being available in 200ml glasses, and the less strong stuff being available in what I guess is around 400ml. The cheaper end of the pricing (mainly the house beers) is ¥550 for the small and ¥950 for the large, which I think is pretty reasonable. Other less rare Mikkeller stuff and some of the Japanese guests go up to around ¥650 and ¥1200. Given that this means that I can get a big Udagawa Spontan for ¥950 most of the time, I’m pretty happy with this. However, as the alcohol percentage and the amount of barrel aging goes up, so do the prices. The highest price I have seen is ¥1600 for 200ml for the Chokeberry Spontan, which is really pushing it, I reckon. However, I think you have to take into account the fact that these beers are expensive in Denmark too. I guess it’s inevitable when you are a gypsy brewer. Beer is just more expensive to make if you have to pay someone else to do it. The beer selection is pretty interesting though. I can’t think of any other bars in Japan that have these kind of beers on. It’s great that they usually have some sour beers on. And the massive amount of varieties of barrel aged stuff sets it apart. Some of the guests though are definitely overpriced. Gueuze Tilquin was ¥1600 for 200ml I think and this is a crazy price for something you can get much cheaper in a few other places in Tokyo. Also, on my last visit they had Magic Rock’s Cannonball for ¥900 for 200ml. This also seems a bit too much for the same reason. As I come to Mikkeller in the most part for Mikkeller beers, I’m not going to gripe too much about the prices of stuff that I’m probably not going to drink.
This place is clearly not going to be for everyone. And I have the feeling that they are not 100% sure themselves who their customers are. It’s clear that this is a very fashionable place at the moment. Plenty of people come here for things other than beer. There were a few teething problems at the start when things weren’t quite running as the might have been expected to, but I think things have definitely improved recently. They now have their taplist online and things are running more smoothly. If you go here on a weekend evening, it will probably be busy, especially later on. They are open in the daytime though, even during the week, which is something I always love. Big thumbs up for that from me. Yes, it’s more expensive than other places, but they do offer something very different from the majority of bars in Tokyo. I actually enjoy the smaller sizes, as some of their beers are extremely strong, and I don’t particularly want 300ml of 17.5%. Naturally, I’d enjoy them more if they were cheaper, but then that goes without saying I guess. I think it is a massive plus for us to have this place in Tokyo, but I can also quite easily understand why people might not like it. I imagine most beer lovers in Tokyo will come here at least once and form their own opinion, so I’m not going to spend any more time trying to convince you either way. It works for me though.

Japanese breweries seen on tap here:
Shiga Kogen
Kyoto
Kokage
Minoh
North Island
Loco

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 15:00-24:00
Friday, 15:00-02:00
Saturday, 12:00-02:00
Sunday, 12:00-24:00

Telephone:
03-5738-7186

Links:
Website
Ratebeer listing

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Kichijoji round up part 3: Beer Cafe Camiya

(This was initially part of a larger post combining three places in Kichijoji. There are now split into individual entries. Here are part 1 and part 2


- Fancy new place attached to what I think is a bakery about 10 minutes walk away from the hustle and bustle near the station. The modern minimalist decor you would expect. Light and airy during the afternoon on a Sunday. Seating for ten at the counter and seating for eight others at tables. Nice place to enjoy a few drinks.
- Eight pretty good taps, mostly Japanese craft but with a couple of imports, one of which was Abbaye de St Bon Chien! Beer served in three sizes, 260ml, 400ml, 568ml. Prices are a bit expensive, ranging from ¥750-¥900, ¥950-¥1100 and ¥1350-¥1500 respectively. Taplist is on their Facebook page. Some bottles in the fridge at the back, but didn’t get a good look at them and couldn’t see prices on the menu.

This is an interesting one. From comments on this blog and from reading elsewhere I have heard two very distinct things about this place. Firstly that it is very expensive (guess you can see from above that this is probably pretty accurate) and secondly that it’s a nice place. After visiting, I’d agree with both. Not sure how often I will be back as the prices are a definite turn off, but the selection is pretty good and it’s a nice place to have a few beers. As I am not in Kichijoji particularly often I suppose I don’t need to think too much about how I feel about the place. If you go there be prepared to pay a bit more than you would elsewhere but also, to probably have a nice time!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited: 
Baird
Sankt Gallen
Coedo
Ushi Tora
Shiga Kogen
Shonan

Opening Hours:

Tuesday-Sunday, 15:00-24:00
Closed Monday

Location/map:

吉祥寺東町 2-31-12, ワイエ吉祥寺 1F, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 



Telephone: 
0422-27-5718


Links:
Facebook page 
Twitter

Kichijoji round up part 2: Bicke

(This was initially part of a larger post combining three places in Kichijoji. There are now split into individual entries. Here are part 1 and part 3


- Fairly big place for a Japanese beer bar. Counter for around ten and seats for maybe 35. Feels pretty spacious too and has quite a comfortable ambience to it. Perhaps due to it being around for a while, it looks quite different from the modern light wood and bare stone places that abound now.
- Ten taps, six of which are of interest (at least to me). Japanese craft well represented. Sizes are 260ml and 420ml and prices range from ¥630-¥730 for the half and ¥930-¥1030 for the pint. My half was served in a nice stemmed glass! Sizeable import bottle selection mainly focused on European stuff.

I visited in the afternoon on a Sunday and there were a few people in there. Not sure how busy it gets in the evening. Feel like it probably has more to offer for readers of this blog than Rogue. No cover charge again which is very welcome. Their Facebook links to a gurunavi page where they publish their taplist so you can check it before you visit. Sorry for the terrible photo. It's on the third floor of a building on a busy shopping street, was tricky to get a good photo, so I settled for this terrible one.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Sankt Gallen

Yo-Ho
Minamishinshu
Ginga Kogen
Outsider

Opening Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 17:00-24:00
Saturday, 15:00-24:00
Sunday, Holidays, 15:00-23:00
Closed Wednesday

Location/map:

吉祥寺本町 2-13-7, グランデールビル 3F, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 


Telephone: 
0422-21-8775

Links:
Facebook page 
Website

Gurunavi

Kichijoji round up part 1: Rogue

(This was initially part of a larger post combining three places in Kichijoji. There are now split into individual entries. Here are part 2 and part 3)

I had been meaning to get to Kichijoji for a while as there are a few bars there that I needed to check out. I finally did it last weekend, so here is the Kichijoji round up (to be added to if required in the future). For some reason I decided to walk there from Yoyogi Uehara and it was one of the dullest 11km walks I have ever done, so I would recommend taking the train. It did give me a bit of a thirst though. There are a couple of well-established places here that I imagine are suffering a little with the arrival of Craft Beer Market, so I have added them in the interest of fairness. I realise it must be pretty difficult for independent places to compete with the chains. Although it has become a bit tricky to work out what places are independent these days as there seems to be a lot of chains that don’t look like chains. Plenty of places have the same owner and therefore bulk purchasing power, but market themselves under different names. I have a loose plan to post something on here about that, but it seems like it might be quite tricky to work out. Anyway, my Kichijoji round up presented in brief and in chronological order as visited.


- Nice little Irish pub tucked away in the side streets just south of the station.
- Seven counter seats and tables for about 20.
- 6 taps, but the three regulars are not so exciting (Heartland, Guinness and Kilkenny!). The guests seem to be mainly imports with the occasional Japanese craft beer in there (Ise Kadoya when I was there). Prices start at ¥650 and ¥1000 for the Japanese craft end of the more interesting stuff. The imports are a little extra. Thornbridge Jaipur was the most expensive at ¥850/¥1400. Selection of import bottles too.

Before the huge boom of places opening I guess this would have been more appealing. It’s still a nice place, especially if you are looking for a nice location rather than a huge beer selection. I liked the feel of the place but I doubt I will be back as there are more places around that have beer I am more interested in drinking. However, they do publish their taplist from time to time on their Facebook page and there is no cover charge, so if you see something you fancy and you are in the area I’m sure you’ll enjoy popping in.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Ise Kadoya


Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 17:00-01:00
Saturday, 15:00-01:00
Sunday, 15:00-24:00
 
Location/map:

吉祥寺南町 1-11-6, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 



Telephone: 
0422-42-0654

Links:
Facebook page 
Website

Friday, 16 October 2015

New Craft Beer Markets: Kichijoji

This post used to be a joint post with another Craft Beer Market. Check the other one out here if you are interested. The points that both have in common appear in both posts.

Today, part one on two fairly new Craft Beer Markets (click here for all of the CBM posts in one place), grouped together because there is usually not so many differences between the various branches.

So, both branches have the usual 30 taps of cheap beer in the usual sizes at the usual prices. Most beers are served in two sizes 250ml (¥480) and 473ml (¥780). It’s pretty good that these prices haven’t changed since I first mentioned CBMs on here a few years back. Barley Wines and stronger beers come in smaller serving sizes at the lower of the two prices. There is a ¥300 cover charge but this is easily covered if you have a few drinks as the prices are pretty cheap. Taplists for all the branches are updated daily on the CBM website. Both branches have the usual CBM decor, lots of wood and stone, and both seem to be pretty popular, so get there early or make a booking.

So, the specifics for each branch are below, but if you’ve been to a CBM before you pretty much know what you’re getting. This chain seems to just keep growing so they must be doing something right. I think it’s fair to say that the beer lists have definitely got less interesting as the chain expands. I suppose that they are having to spread the good stuff around a bit more and top it up with less interesting beers and breweries. But many people won’t care as much about this I guess. And even with things being spread a little thinner there still always seems to be some good stuff that I want to drink. I don’t know how long they are going to go on expanding. I guess it depends on how long the beer scene keeps growing. Certainly some people I have spoken to feel that there will be a contraction coming soon as this kind of growth can’t continue forever. Time will tell I suppose.


This branch is in a very convenient location in the Atre shopping centre that the JR station is attached to. This convenience is probably reflected in the longer opening hours. The first thing I noticed was that this place is pretty big too. There is counter seating for maybe 20 and tables for 30 or 40 more. It must be the biggest of all of the branches so far. There is an initially disconcerting but after a while quite comforting big train rumble from the tracks above. The food concept is ‘Okinawa and Chinese’. I was there for three beers early evening on a Sunday and the place was busy and the turnover of customers seemed to be pretty regular. Maybe the location contributes to the feel that it maybe doesn’t feel like somewhere you are supposed to sit for a long time. I was actually told on my way in that I could have the seat for just two hours. Have had this is at a couple of the other branches and personally I think it’s not particularly customer friendly. At least they tell you on the way in though. But this also probably contributes to the place feeling a little sterile and not so comfortable. I think the Koenji branch is definitely superior in this respect. I haven’t felt rushed there when I’ve visited. The ¥300 cover charge is applicable for people drinking alcohol after 15:00, so I guess if you can sneak in before 15:00 you shouldn’t have to pay it. This wasn’t my favourite CBM by a long way. But I can’t say I didn’t know what to expect from a new CBM before I went and should add that they always provide a decent drinking experience particularly if you are looking to try a lot of different beers without spending a lot of money.

Beers on tap (taken from both branches)
Coedo
Kure
Rokko
Aqula
Johana
Sankt Gallen
Preston
Outsider
Yo-Ho
Ushitora
Baird
Blue Magic
Nihonkai Club

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, Lunch 11.00-15.00, Teatime (!) 15:00-17:00, Dinner 17.00-23.30
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays Lunch 11:00-16.00, Teatime 16:00-17:00, Dinner 17:00-23:30

Location/map:
1-1-24 吉祥寺南町, アトレ吉祥寺 東館 1F, Musashino-shi, Tokyo

Directions:
It’s on the north side of Atre which is attached to the station and opens on to the street. Probably don’t need much more than that. Pretty sure you don't need a map for this one.

Telephone:
0422-27-6779

Links:
Facebook page
Website
Twitter
Ratebeer listing

New Craft Beer Markets: Jimbocho Terrace

This post used to be a joint post with another Craft Beer Market. Check the other one out here if you are interested. The points that both have in common appear in both posts.

Today, part one on two fairly new Craft Beer Markets (click here for all of the CBM posts in one place), grouped together because there is usually not so many differences between the various branches.

So, both branches have the usual 30 taps of cheap beer in the usual sizes at the usual prices. Most beers are served in two sizes 250ml (¥480) and 473ml (¥780). It’s pretty good that these prices haven’t changed since I first mentioned CBMs on here a few years back. Barley Wines and stronger beers come in smaller serving sizes at the lower of the two prices. There is a ¥300 cover charge but this is easily covered if you have a few drinks as the prices are pretty cheap. Taplists for all the branches are updated daily on the CBM website. Both branches have the usual CBM decor, lots of wood and stone, and both seem to be pretty popular, so get there early or make a booking.

So, the specifics for each branch are below, but if you’ve been to a CBM before you pretty much know what you’re getting. This chain seems to just keep growing so they must be doing something right. I think it’s fair to say that the beer lists have definitely got less interesting as the chain expands. I suppose that they are having to spread the good stuff around a bit more and top it up with less interesting beers and breweries. But many people won’t care as much about this I guess. And even with things being spread a little thinner there still always seems to be some good stuff that I want to drink. I don’t know how long they are going to go on expanding. I guess it depends on how long the beer scene keeps growing. Certainly some people I have spoken to feel that there will be a contraction coming soon as this kind of growth can’t continue forever. Time will tell I suppose.


Situated deep in salaryman territory between their Jimbocho and Awajicho branches, I initially wondered if they might be over-saturating things a little in this area, but it seems popular enough. Feels a little different from their other branches, almost like a cafe. There are a couple of counters, a big communal table and what seems to be a small private area at the back. All in all, there’s probably seating for 30-40. They have a few tables outside the front too. Their food speciality is ‘Smoke and Italian’. Situated in the bottom of a office/retail block. I feel, as I always seem to, that they are missing something by not being open all day with at least a skeleton service. Maybe that’s speaking from a European perspective though. I'm sure there would be willing drinkers, but maybe they don’t particularly want daytime drinkers as I imagine that they make most of their money from the food so it might not make sense financially.

Beers on tap (taken from both branches)
Coedo
Kure
Rokko
Aqula
Johana
Sankt Gallen
Preston
Outsider
Yo-Ho
Ushitora
Baird
Blue Magic
Nihonkai Club

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, Lunch 11.30-14.00, Evening 17.00-23.30
Saturday, 16.00-23.30
Sunday closed

Location/map:
3-22 神田錦町,  テラススクエア1F, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
From Jimbocho station, turn left out of exit A9. Take the second right turn at the traffic lights and then turn left at the next junction. CBM is at the front of this building.



Telephone:
03-5244-5288

Links:
Facebook page
Website
Ratebeer listing