Thursday, 31 March 2016

Kofu special part 2: The Vault

(This was originally two places on one post. It has now been split. Part 1 is here


The Vault is pretty near Hops & Herbs (from here on referred to as H&H) and if you are if Kofu, it makes sense to pop in here too I reckon. It is also part of the Outsider group but has been around longer and is a very different kind of place to H&H. Firstly the big difference is the atmosphere. On the Friday we went, H&H was comfortable, relaxed and smoke free. The Vault was boisterous, loud and smoky. They are clearly for different situations. The Vault is much more somewhere to party with youngsters and probably get smashed whereas H&H is somewhere to sniff and savour your beers whilst enjoying intelligent conversation and probably also get smashed, but in the kind of way that you wouldn't notice till you stood up to go to the toilet (those ¥900 pints of imperial stout, eh?).
It's probably a similar size to H&H, but the Vault is more a place for ordering and paying at the bar, wandering around, standing, playing darts or pool and generally hanging out. 
The beer in the Vault is more international. They have a large fridge full of Belgian, German, British and other world beers and there were a few taps of world stuff on. However, one big reason to go there as well as H&H is that they have two taps of Outsider on at the Vault, and when we were there, one of them was a beer not on tap at H&H. I didn't make any notes about the prices and sizes, which I take to mean that they were the same as at H&H, but could mean that I had just enjoyed the whole tap list at H&H a little too much.
So, for me H&H was much more my kind of place, but I put this down to age and general grumpiness at seeing young people openly enjoying themselves. (Only joking). The two places combined make a nice little pub crawl but I think it probably makes sense to do H&H first and then go to the Vault as the intoxication hits. Although, I guess the Vault would be quieter earlier and then you can relax in H&H afterwards. Well, anyway, I think you can probably work out what's best for you now. Oh, one last thing, no cover charge here too. Good on them!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Outsider
 

Opening Hours:
Sunday-Tuesday, 18:00-24:00
Wednesday-Saturday, 18:00-02:00

Location/map:
1-21-7 丸の内, Kofu, Yamanashi-ken



Telephone:
055-237-0944

Links:
Facebook

Kofu special part 1: Hops & Herbs

(This was originally two places on one post. It has now been split. Part 2 is here)

Today, a brief excursion a little way out of Tokyo into Yamanashi, the home of Outsider brewing. We were in Kofu for one night only for football but fortunately that seems to be enough time to deal with the beer scene there at the moment. So, without further ado here is your extremely limited Kofu round up.


The main draw of Kofu has to be Hops & Herbs, the brewery tap of Outsider brewing. The bar is situated on the second floor above the brewery and was a very nice place indeed. I feel like recently I haven't been seeing as much of Outsider in Tokyo. I'm sure it's there, but haven't spotted it so much. So a visit to the brewery tap seemed like the perfect place to catch up on what I've been missing.
It's a fairly spacious place with around ten tables for four, a counter for five and some standing room near the bar too. It felt much more like a traditional pub than many places in Japan do, and all in all it was a very pleasant place to spend a couple of hours. It was no smoking too, which for me is always a good thing.
They have nine taps, but when we were there they only had seven on. Six of these taps are reserved for their regular beers; Innkeeper Bitter Lager, Flanders White, The Counties (which was absolutely great that night), Bunyip IPA, Drunk Monk Tripel and the Dark Side. The other taps are reserved for seasonals and on the night we were there they had their Enigma IPA on which was recently awarded best IPA at the Japan Brewers Cup. Beers are served in two sizes, 300ml and 500ml and are priced ¥500-¥600 and ¥750-¥900 respectively, so pretty good prices! All beers are served in Outsider glassware, clearly marked with the glass volume which showed that the pours were pleasantly generous. Oh, and there's no cover charge.
All in all, I really liked this place. The beers were good, the prices were nice and the food tasted great (although there seemed to be meat in the salad dressing, which would be a bonus for most people, but not great for me as a vegetarian. The rest of the food was very nice though). They have lots of Outsider merchandise for sale including clothing and glassware. We bought a towel. You can never have too many towels. Looking forward to next season's away game already as I'm sure we'll be back.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Outsider
 

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday 17:00-24:00
Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 12:00-24:00

Location/map:
1-1-5 中央, Kofu, Yamanashi-ken



Telephone:
055-225-2012

Links:
Facebook

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Iidabashi Extras part 2: La Cachette

This post was originally part of one Iidabashi round up post before I decided to split all of these joint posts. Check out the other part here.

Post by James


This bar has been around since long before Craft Beer became fashionable. It is located on the 3rd floor of a building at the bottom of the hill that leads to Kagurazaka (Waseda-dori). There is a counter that seats five and table seating for about 30. There are eight taps (five of which are craft). Large size is 330ml and small is 250ml. The large size ranged from ¥850-¥980. This is a smoking establishment and it has a very hefty ¥500 yen charge, for which I got some nuts. There were several regulars in when I went and it is friendly enough but a bit formal. When I first went about 12 years ago it seemed like a good place, but there are so many places with better prices and better beer nowadays. It is very close to the station though.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Sankt Gallen
Yo-Ho
Fujizakura
Tazawako

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, 17:00-01:00
Closed Sundays and holidays that are Mondays (but if the Monday is a holiday, they open on the Sunday. Bit confusing)

Location/map:
神楽坂 1-10, 三経第22ビル 3F, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Pretty easy to get there from the station. Just cross the road from exit B3



Telephone:
03-3513-0823

Links:
Facebook

Iidabashi Extras part 1: The Royal Scotsman

This post was originally part of one Iidabashi round up post before I decided to split all of these joint posts. Check out the other part here.

Post by James


This pub is located on a side street a little way up Waseda-dori (you pass Craft Beer Server Land on the way). The Royal Scotsman opened a little before the craft beer boom and it really has a good vibe. It has always been strongly non-smoking and was pretty much the first such bar that I can remember finding in Tokyo. Despite the name, it doesn't feel particularly Scottish apart from the large selection of whisky. There are five counter seats and table seating for about 20. There are also some Ichiro's Malt beer barrels which act as tables in the standing space.
There are five taps. Three are permanent beers and two are guest beers. The permanent beers are Brewdog's Punk IPA, Preston Ale Irish Stout and Hitachino Nest Cask Conditioned Amarillo hand pump. The guest beers when I was in were Hansharo Russian Imperial Stout and Epic Brewing Copper Core Pale Ale. Beer comes in three sizes: Pints are 480ml, a medium is 329ml and a half is 259ml. Prices are a bit steep. Hitachino and Preston are ¥1100 for a pint and Punk is ¥1300 a pint. The guest beers are ¥1400 a pint. However, there is a happy hour on weekdays until 19:00. During this time you get ¥100 off Preston and Hitachino Nest and ¥200 off the Punk IPA. Guest beers aren't included in the happy hour.
Although the beer is a bit pricey and the variety could be better, The Royal Scotsman has some big pluses in my book. It has a great setting with lots of windows and really feels like a pub. For a non smoking pub this is quite rare. It also has the best pub food I have come across in Tokyo. Well worth a visit for a pint with dinner.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Hitachino Nest
Preston
Hansharo

Opening Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday, 17:00-01:00
Wednesday, 17:00-24:00
Saturday, 15:00-01:00
Sunday and holidays, 15:00-23:00

Location/map:
神楽坂 3-6-28, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6280-8852

Links:
Facebook

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Gachimaya Okinawan Craft Beer Restaurant


Post by Iain


According to the blurb on the menu, “gachimaya” means the same as kuishimbo (big eater/gutsy pig) in Okinawan dialect and given the quality of the food in this restaurant it’s tempting to take that as a challenge and try to live up to the name. Although handily placed for Jimbocho Disk Union, a major plus in my book, most of the customers when we visited late on a Sunday afternoon seemed to be rather more bookish types, so I’d recommend getting there before the bookstores close for the day.

Once off the street and down the stairs the first thing I noticed was how brightly lit it seemed to be. Coupled with the fact that there hardly seemed to be anyone there I wasn’t filled with confidence, but once the beer and food arrived and more customers came in there was a pretty good atmosphere. There is seating for at least 30 with two tables on the left as you come in the door, then a larger table for six and another for four to your right. Upstairs on a kind of mezzanine level are two more tables for six and four respectively and a bar/counter that seats eight. I spotted some more chairs stacked off to the side so I would guess it would seat 40 at a push.

The food is of course Okinawan, but knocks what's on offer at the Kichijoji Craft Beer Market into the proverbial cocked boushi. The menu is divided into Sausage/ Hot & Cold Tapas/ Salads/ Meat/ Stirfries/ Ajillo/ Meals/ Dessert. We had umibudo, the fu champuru, deep-fried goya, and a plate of home made sausages served on a bed of mashed hiyoko and eda mame. Although the portions looked small they turned out to be just right, not to mention damn tasty.

Other than the food, plus points are that it is non smoking, although there is a place to smoke outside by the front door, and there was no cover charge. The menu is also printed in English as well as Japanese, which is handy if you’re not familiar with Okinawan food. The BGM was Jazz versions of Okinawan tunes and was fairly unobtrusive, however as mentioned the place was very brightly lit.

The beer sizes seemed a little on the small side, with the Regular size disappearing in about three swallows (yes, I know … nonstandard drinking measure), and everything on tap was 5% so not much variety in the strength stakes. Prices were ¥490 Regular/ ¥790 Large with one exception, Miyakojima Coral Ale at ¥590/ ¥890

So, all in all worth going for the food alone, and some of the Okinawan beers are certainly not that easy to track down on draft. I’ll certainly be paying it a return visit.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Helios
Nanto
Miyakojima
Ishigakijima

Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat 11:00-23:00
Sun & Holidays 11:00-21:00
(I've seen on some sites that they close between 14:00-17:00, and although there was no indication of this inside I’d say it’s quite possible given that we got there just after 17:00)

Location/map:
神保町サンビルディング B1, 神田神保町1-6, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6273-7807

Links:
Seems that they have pretty much no web presence. Sorry!