Friday, 26 February 2016

Craftsman


Post by Mothy

The other day I took a trip to Gotanda and made a stop at Craftsman. It's a short walk from the station, so if you are in the area it's a convenient place for a beer. Though they seem to be more on the side of a restaurant that serves beer rather than a bar that serves food, so probably a better place to go for a meal and drinks rather than just drinks.

The first thing I noticed were the 31 taps the place has (missing their chance at a Baskins-Robbins partnership). 26 of them were Japanese craft, with one European (Hoegaarden) and the others from the big Japanese breweries. All the crafts were ¥500 for small and ¥800 for regular. Hoegaarden was more expensive, ¥850 and ¥1450. I forgot to take note of the macrobrewery prices. They didn't list the size, but the regulars were definitely less than a pint. They weren't small, by any means, but certainly not a pint. They also did a tasting set of three 150ml glasses for ¥990.

Seating was about 22 counter and 28 table seats. I got there about 18:30 on a Thursday and it was fairly empty, but by 19:30 the place was packed. So making a reservation, especially if there's more than one of you, is recommended.

The bad news is there is a table charge, for which I got corn soup. Not even a good corn soup. I lost my receipt (first stop in a rather long night) but I want to say it was ¥320. Definitely in the 300's [It's ¥300 apparently]. I didn't ask, and no one asked me, but unless I just happened to go on a night when no-one was smoking, it is a smoke free establishment. [It is no smoking. Thanks Davido for confirming these facts. He also adds that he thinks the food is outstanding].

Overall, it's a nice place with decent food and good drinks at a reasonable price. The place I would compare it to is Craft Beer Market. Essentially the same vibe going on.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Yokohama
Outsider
Coedo
Oh La Ho
Baird
Sankt Gallen
Shonan
Iwatekura
Minoh
Swan Lake
T.Y. Harbor
Shiga Kogen
Shiroyama

Opening Hours:
Daily, 17:00-01:00

Location/map:
グレイス五反田 1F, 西五反田 2-18-3, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
050-7534-7688

Links:
Facebook

Friday, 19 February 2016

Beer Engine

Once again, thanks to all the people who are helping out with post on the blog. It really is shaming me into getting to some new places myself. So, consequently when I found myself with an early finish in Koenji this week it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the newly-opened Beer Engine. In fact it had only opened the day before, so it was very new indeed. Here are the main points.

- Specialises in 'Real Ale'. The master informed me that they have the most hand pumps in Japan. The have a total of eight taps, five of which are hand pumps. One of the other three seems to be reserved for macro beer though. So seven interesting taps in total. Taplist is posted on their facebook page. The keg beers come in one size, which looked like being around 300ml. These were ¥850. The 'real ales' come in two sizes, what looked like UK pint and UK half. The prices ranged from ¥1200-¥1300 and ¥700-¥750 respectively. No cover charge (hooray!).
- Eight seats at the counter and seats at tables for around 14. Nice and comfortable and the music they were playing was nice and quite different and the staff were nice and friendly. One big drawback on the atmosphere side though is that they allow smoking [Although the whole place is non-smoking before 8pm]. I really don't understand why such a small place would. I was about to order a second beer when someone asked for an ashtray and lit up. Instead I got the bill and moved on. It was a shame.
-Pretty close to the station. Just leave via the North Exit, turn right and follow the road by the tracks. It's down the third street on the left after about 200m.

So, there you have it. Prices seem a little higher than other places and it might be tough for them in Koenji where you have CBM and Bakushu Kobo selling beer much cheaper fairly near by, but the hand pump thing is something a little different that they have in their favour though. And the nice atmosphere. Also they are open later than these places too, but... smoking. It really changed how I felt about the place.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Minoh
Ise Kadoya
Iwatekura
Nagisa
Sankt Gallen
Shiga Kogen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, 17:00-01:00
Closed Sunday

Location/map:
高円寺北 2-3-1, Suginami-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5356-9647

Links:
Facebook
Ratebeer
Twitter

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Wash1n

Post by Iain

Wash1n Tokyo has been in business (in this incarnation at least, it seems) for about a year on the south side of Asagaya station. It's a smallish place with seven tables, two seating four and five seating two, and a counter with five seats. I visited around 19:00 on a Saturday and it was barely half full.
Here's what was available on their six craft beer taps when I visited: Sakura (Loco), Summit Ale (Ise Kadoya), Tazawako Rauch, Southern Cross IPA (Shonan), Tokyo White #8 (Far Yeast), and August Black. The other three taps were hard cidre, lemonhai, and Kirin Braumeister. It's unclear how often the beers change but judging from their Twitter feed there should be at least something new every few days. Some Baird barrels were in evidence so it seems we can expect some of that soon.
Sizes were pint (US) and glass, and while the place seemed a tad brightly lit, and a bit industrial (though one of the staff mentioned they were planning to refurbish soon), it was certainly welcoming on a cold-as-a-polar-bear's-bum January night. The pint size costs ¥850 and the glass ¥500.
There is a ¥400 otoshi charge, for which we got a small dish of tsukune in tomato stew. The food menu is decent, split between nibbles and their speciality, gyoza. I think we managed to sample just about all the different varieties and they were damn fine dumplings.
Overall this is a place I will definitely be revisiting soon. The only down side is that there is smoking, but there is a DJ booth and so the potential for playing some tunes. There was at least one English speaking staff staff member, too.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
August
Ise Kadoya
Far Yeast/Kagua 
Tazawako
Shonan
Loco

Opening Hours:
Daily, 17:00-01:00 (last order 00:30)

Location/map:
阿佐谷南3-34-15 1F, Suginami-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-6313-0810

Links:

Monday, 15 February 2016

Hemel Miyamasu


Post By James

Hemel is a Belgian beer/wine bistro. There are two of them in Shibuya. One, In De Bourgondische Hemel, is on Dogenzaka and the other, Wine & Belgian Beer Hemel, is on Miyamasu-zaka. It was the latter which I checked out.
The place was a reasonable size. There seemed to be about 18 counter seats and three tables which would each accommodate six. There were only (if you don't count Asahi) Belgian beers on tap and there were only three of them. None was anything unusual. Prices and sizes varied quite a bit. I had a small glass (maybe 250ml) of the most interesting draught for ¥950, but a large glass (not sure how big) of Hoegaarden cost ¥1390. Much more interesting were the bottles, of which they had about 60 varieties. These were all Belgian too. Large bottles (750ml) cost about ¥2000-¥3000. Small bottles (330ml) cost ¥900-¥1400. They have different shapes of glasses depending what beer you order, which I rather like. Smoking is permitted all the time and there is a charge of ¥300, for which I was given a small chicken dish.
There were three chefs and four waiting staff even at 17:00 which is pretty unusual for a place of this size.  I was told I could only have my counter seat until 19:00 because they were fully booked. It is a popular place and I have been turned away for not having a booking before, so I would recommend booking if you want to go. I tried the famous fries. Portion size was generous and it was interesting to get three kinds of mayonnaise to dip them in. The staff were very friendly and when I asked about Japanese beer they said that they are going to open a new branch in Kichijoji next month (March 2016). It may have some Japanese craft.
Overall, this is a bistro rather than a bar. It has good food, but it is an expensive place if you just want to drink beer. I am not sure how different their place on Dogenzaka is or what the new place in Kichijoji will be like.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
None

Opening Hours:
Daily, 17:00-03:00

Location/map:
CR-VITE 1F, 渋谷 1-12-7, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-6427-7524

Links:
Facebook

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Yotsuya Part 2 - Mates

(This was originally one post with another Yotsuya place. Check that here)


Post by James

I found this place by chance as I arrived about 20 minutes before Marumugi opened.

- Mates is a small bar with seven counter seats and a table that could seat about the same number.
- They had Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn lager on tap when I went and it seems that they don't change the taps much.
- Pints (460ml) were ¥1100 yen and small (300ml) were ¥700.
- There were also about eight craft beers available in bottles.
- There is no charge but smoking is permitted.

I liked this bar. Although this is an "American bar" there was rugby on TV when I went and the owner is an ex player. An extremely friendly place. I was only there for half an hour but the owner and other customers made me feel really welcome. The owner speaks reasonable English, so it is a good place if your Japanese isn't great. The taps seem pretty fixed but the early opening is very appealing. It is only one minute from Marumugi.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
None


Opening Hours:

Tuesday-Sunday, 15:00-00:00
Closed Monday
 
Location/map:

舟町 4-10, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6457-8314

Links:

Facebook

Yotsuya Part 1 - Marumugi

(This was originally one post with another Yotsuya place. Check that here)


Post by James

This is a very friendly place that is easy to go to on your own. It is the sort of place where you are sure to get talking to whoever is at the counter. Marumugi has more to offer craft beer drinkers than Mates (see below), but they are so close together that I suggest visiting both. The entrance to Marumugi is at the start of a lane that is like a miniature Golden Gai. No craft beer establishments, but some interesting looking bars if you are the adventurous type.

- Six counter seats and a table for eight.
- Pints (I think US size) are ¥1000. Half pints are ¥700. There is also a 3 beer taster set for ¥1000. The daily taplist and food menu is on their blog.
- There is no charge and it is completely non-smoking.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Ise Kadoya

Coedo
Minamishinshu
Preston
Aqula

Opening Hours:

Wednesday-Monday, 17:00-02:00
Closed Tuesday

Location/map:

荒木町 1-1, 2F, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
03-6380-4745

Links:

Blog
Twitter

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Maltan


Post by Mothy

I've been to Maltan in Kanda a number of times and I really like the place, though it doesn't really excel in any one area.
First off, the beer. They have only six taps of craft (they also serve Suntory Malts) but from when I've been there, it's always an interesting selection. They have Yona Yona plus beers from Shiga Kogen and Minoh as their regular beers, then guest beers that can be from any brewery.  The prices are ¥950-¥1200 for a pint and ¥650 for a half. I think they're the smaller US pint, though can't say for sure. The Suntory Malts is cheaper, ¥600 and ¥400. They also have bottles from Minoh, Hitachino Nest, Ezo, Shiga Kogen, and Swan Lake priced from ¥800-¥900. They put their taplist on their twitter, so that's the place to check if you want to know what's on.
It has counter seating for about 12, table seating for 14, and four standing room tables. It has been pretty empty the times I've been there, but, located as close as it is to the station, I'm sure it can get quite crowded sometimes.
There's no table charge, a point in their favor. But it does allow smoking, so yay or boo at that as you wish. The decor I like, ironically, as I'm honestly not sure if this was the look they were going for or they ran out of money before the remodel was complete. The food is typical except for the fried gobo sticks I've developed a shameful addiction to. They also have a decent selection of whisky if that interests you.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Shiga Kogen
Minoh
Yo-Ho (every time seems to be Yona Yona Ale)
Romantic Village

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 18:00-01:00
Friday, 18:00-04:00
Saturday, 18:00-24:00
Closed Sunday

Location/map:
グリーンビル B1F, 内神田 3-13-10, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-6659-5884

Links:
Official facebook or slightly more popular facebook  (not much on either though...)

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Beer Hunting Urawa


Post by Jim

Beer Hunting Urawa is a craft beer bar focusing on Japanese craft breweries. The entire bar is no smoking. It's about a one minute walk from the east exit of Kita Urawa station in Saitama. It's right above a CoCo Ichiban curry shop.  There are 27 seats in total total, nine of them at the bar. They opened in November of 2015.
They have eight taps. Beers come in three sizes, regular (355ml) for ¥900, mini (130ml) for ¥350, and Oktoberfest size beer mugs (1250ml) for ¥2700. Sometimes they'll have a couple of beers that are little more expensive, +¥100 for regular and +¥50 for mini. They don't have half sizes. They offer beer flights for ¥1300 from Monday to Thursday until 21:30. The mini size glasses are the same as the ones used for the beer flights and you can choose four beers from the menu for your flight. The food menu includes snacks, pasta, meat dishes and salads. Prices include tax. Payment is cash on delivery. You'll need to order and pay at the counter unless you're seated at the bar.
The interior has lots of wood paneling. There's one spot at the bar with a power outlet. The owner encouraged me to use it as soon as I brought out my phone battery. They've had North Island Beer and Noboribetsu Beer tap take over events in the past. During the events the head brewers were on hand serving beer. It can be a little pricey but they get in a nice variety of Japanese craft beers. They update the tap list on their Facebook page regularly.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Zakko
Hideji
Ise Kadoya
Coedo
North Island

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday, 17:00-24:00
Friday, 17:00-01:00
Saturday, 13:00-24:00
Sunday, 13:00-23:00
Closed Monday

Location/map:
北浦和 4-3-7, Urawa-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken



Telephone:
048-711-1700

Links:
Facebook

Friday, 5 February 2016

Sakura Taps

I'm back. Firstly I would like to thank the people who have offered to help me keep this blog a little more up to date. The offer was much appreciated and I hope we can get this backlog sorted and then managing things will be a lot easier going forward. Anyway, this help has spurred me into action (I went to one new place... it's a start).
Sakura Taps in Yokohama is a small Craft Beer and Coffee bar located pretty near Kannai, which is already a pretty damn good area to go drinking in. So now, we can add this place to the list. There is definitely potential for a decent crawl round this area. Here are the basic facts:

- Pretty small place with seats for around eight and standing at the bar for maybe the same again with a bit of a squeeze. Discount for drinking standing at the bar.
- Nice new decor and feels pretty comfortable. Focuses on beer, coffee and had some nice looking food items on the menu.
- Beer is served in three sizes 450ml, 250ml and 150ml. Prices are ¥1000-¥1300, ¥600-¥800 and ¥400-¥600 respectively. The standing discounts mentioned above make things a bit cheaper with ¥200, ¥100 and ¥50 deducted from the various sizes. There is no cover charge and tax is included.

So, probably not much else to say. On the day I visited the tap list didn't have anything ultra exciting on, but I have been told by a friend that the selection normally has some good stuff and some stuff that you don't see in many other places. Their tap list is published on their website and on their facebook so you can have a look before you go. All in all, it's another decent place in an area with lots of good options. Maybe a little more expensive than other places, but the decent selection and nice atmosphere should make up for that.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Fujizakura Kogen

Bay Brewing
Minoh
Swan Lake
Minamishinshu

Opening Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday, 17:00-23:00
Saturday, 15:00-23:00
Sunday, 15:00-22:00
Closed Wednesday
 
Location/map:

花咲町1-16-1, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa



Telephone:
045-334-8873
 

Links:
Facebook page
Website
Ratebeer listing

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Buffalo Wings & Smile (NOW CLOSED)


Post by James

If the name doesn't give you enough of a clue, the photo probably will. This is a quirky but nice place. It has very much an American theme and as well as the Statue of Liberty outside there is a lot of Marvel and other American character paraphernalia and a couple of guitars on the walls. There are six counter seats and table seating for about six. I noticed a couple of extra folding chairs so you could fit a few more people in. There wasn't a "No Smoking" sign but I didn't see any ashtrays so I guess it's a smoke free bar.
There were only two beers on tap, both of which were American. The glass sizes were a bit unusual. I guess they were about 300ml. Prices were ¥799 for both. There were 10 bottled beers, again all American. The bottles were good. Nothing unusual but solid American crafts. There were no prices on the bottle menu. I was given some popcorn when I sat down so I was expecting a charge but there wasn't one. The owner just seems to be a friendly guy. However, all beer prices were excluding tax.
I guess I should mention the Buffalo Wings in the name. They come with a huge variety of sauce options which range from mild to super spicy and you can choose boneless wings if you prefer.
Overall, this is a small place and it only has two craft beers on tap. Very much an American theme. It is very friendly and kids would like the decor. It is less than one minute from Riddle so going to both would be a good plan.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
None

Opening Hours:

Tuesday-Friday, 17:30-23:00
Saturday, 15:00-23:00
Sunday, 15:00-22:00
Closed Monday

Location/map:
保坂ビル1F, 南大塚 3-52-2, Toshima-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5927-9727

Links:
Facebook
Twitter
Ratebeer listing

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Beer Saurus


Post by Jim

Beer Saurus is a restaurant and bar less than a ten minute walk from the west exit of Ikebukuro station.  It seats 60. Ten of the seats are at a counter with green back-lighting. At first glance the interior looks a bit like a club. Then you'll notice all the craft beer signs and posters. There are also dinosaur figures scattered about and a big dinosaur mural on the back wall. The place is called Beer Saurus after all.
They have five taps. Kirin Heartland and Hoegaarden White are their regular beers while the other three are a selection of craft beers, usually from the U.S. During my last visit they had Maui Mana Wheat, Lagunitas IPA and Epic Capt'n Crompton's Pale Ale on tap. New beers are rotated in every few days. Draft beers come in two sizes.  The craft beers are ¥1260 for a glass and ¥680 for a half glass. The glasses are regular glasses and smaller than actual pint glasses. Heartland is ¥680 a glass and  ¥1440 for a large flask. Hoegaarden is ¥680 a glass and ¥1640 for a big glass. From 18:00 to 19:30 everyday including weekends, they have a happy hour special and the five beers on tap are half price.
When the server hands you the beer menu he or she will point out which three craft beers are on tap and which three are coming up. I recommend checking their Facebook and Twitter before you visit. They're good about updating the tap list and they'll preview what's coming up next. Every once in awhile they'll announce an event like IPA week or Super Rare Beer Week. Sometimes they'll label a beer as a "rare" beer and the happy hour price won't apply. During one of my previous visits they had Hobbit Hunter from Pizza Port on tap and they were limiting the servings to one per customer.
Beer Saurus also has a pretty decent bottle and can selection. Be sure to check out the two coolers at the entrance. During various visits I've seen Ballast Point, Caldera, Bear Republic, and Modern Times.
The food menu is extensive. It includes pasta, pizza, sausage, omelettes, salads, tacos, seafood, and more. I've had the Sicilian eggplant and tomato pasta a few times. They have a tapas menu with a large selection of items ranging from ¥350 to ¥650. It includes things like potato salad, soft tacos, mushrooms in garlic and Utsunomiya gyoza.
Beer Saurus has three other locations, all located in Kawagoe city in Saitama (check their website for details). They just recently celebrated the original location's 20th anniversary. In celebration they released their own beer, Beer Saurus 20th Anniversary IPA, in collaboration with Coedo brewery. This was on tap for while but I haven't seen it recently.
If you're looking for something different from the usual craft beer pub check them out. They're pretty crowded during happy hour and on weekends. But, keep in mind that there's a ¥300 cover charge and the entire restaurant is smoking.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
None

Opening Hours:
Daily, 18:00-4:00

Location/map: 
セイコービル 3F, 西池袋 1-38-5, Toshima-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5992-8217

Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter