Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Craftsman Yokohama

[Apparently, they now allow smoking inside, so another reason for some not to go here]

Seems that Craftsman is becoming a fast growing chain recently. They have fairly recently opened new bar/restaurants in Kichijoji and Yokohama. There will be a post on the Kichijoji branch fairly soon, but as I was in Yokohama for football, I thought I would pop in to the Yokohama one and get it on here. This was my first Craftsman experience and I had heard that people rate these places quite highly. My own experience was a little disappointing to be honest, but I'll go into that further down. First, the information that you need to know.

- Very close to Yokohama station and pretty near Thrash Zone. This area is full of eating and drinking places and was very busy on a Saturday evening. I'd recommend making a reservation if you want to go here. Seems like it stays open very late though, so you'll probably have better luck visiting later. Classy looking place with a few seats round tables at the front of the bar and quite a few counters spread around the rest of the place. It's on the second floor and there are a couple of entrances, so just look for the Craftsman logo on the outside of the building and go up via the stairs or in the lift.
- 31 taps, of which three are macro lagers, one is a hand pump and the rest are mainly Japanese craft keg beer with a few imports thrown in. Big bottle list, but the prices are pretty expensive. Beers generally served in two sizes 'small' and 'large'. Couldn't see any volume listed anywhere but it seemed like the usual US pint and half. Small was ¥530 and large ¥830. Some beers (mainly imports) were served in one size, somewhere between small and large and priced at ¥830. There is a beer flight of three 150ml glasses for ¥1100 which doesn't seem that great value to be honest. Slightly worryingly, the prices listed on their website are lower than the prices in store and they haven't been open that long. And, tax is added at the end.
- Have heard great things about the food in these places and it did seem to be something that they care about. The theme here is Mex-Italian which is a new one on me, but I think this is more meant to describe the fact that they serve two types of cuisine rather than a new hybrid style. One major problem for me was that there was hidden meat in pretty much everything. Mushroom quesadillas (with bacon, not mentioned on the menu), Margherita pizza (with squid in the tomato sauce! Thankfully the staff member warned us). They were not able to remove meat from any of the dishes, which was a shame. I was pretty much left with only being able to eat a courgette pizza and some Belgian frites. Which were nice, but it would have been nice to have had some choice.

I really wished I had been to one of the other branches first as I was left with a pretty negative feeling. I will have to visit Craft & Romance as I've heard they care a lot more about the beer there. Things could be really good here I think and it seems like we might be in the minority with our negative experience. Maybe check out the ratebeer ratings if you want to hear the other side of the story. I don't mind about the food thing. This is Japan after all, so I shouldn't expect there to be a great vegetarian selection everywhere. But what is much more worrying for a craft beer bar are the beer problems. I don't like to moan about pours, but they seemed to be pretty much random sizes. We ordered the same beer and there was a significant difference in the amount we got. My first assumption was that the keg had blown, but I was wrong. Sitting in front of the bar I noticed a lot of pouring, then scraping out head then pouring again, the pouring from one glass to another through a sieve type thing. Beer were coming out with 50% head, some glasses part empty. I just don't think it really gels with the image they are portraying. And the thing that I have been mentioning before about the general quality of the beers on taps in places declining recently was very much on show here. There are now a huge amount of craft beer bars around so I guess the good stuff is getting spread very thin. To be honest, after my first beer, I couldn't find three others I wanted to make up a tasting set. When a place has 31 taps, that's not a good sign. So, I don't know really. I don't like to be negative, but I can't see why I would ever go back unless they sort out these beer things. After all, this is a beer bar riding the craft beer boom and whilst it is cheaper than some other places, it's not really so cheap when you consider the quality of what is being delivered to you. Like I said, our experience seems very different from other people's but if the experience has worsened so much in three months, I'd imagine they might have a tough road ahead of them.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Tainai Kogen
Oh La Ho
Shiga Kogen
TY Harbor

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 17:00-02:00
Friday, Saturday & Holidays, 11:30-03:00
Sunday, 11:30-00:00

鶴屋町 2-16-4 2F, Kanagawa-ku, Yokohama


Ratebeer entry


darren-s said...

On my trip to Tokyo last month I visited Craft & Romance twice. At dinner time they had a couple of veggie pizzas and a roasted veggie sandwich on the menu. There were around 30 beers on tap. It will hopefully be more up your alley.

With the lineup of breweries listed you couldn't find three beers for a taster set? You may be getting a little jaded.

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Hi Darren, thanks for the comment. Glad to hear Craft & Romance is better. That generally seems to be the thing people are saying. Who knows about that food though, there's probably some 'bonus meat' in there somewhere. Only joking, but the level of 'bonus meat' intrusion at Craftsman Yokohama was surprising. And I should stress that I shouldn't expect vegetarian food in Japan as it's really still very much a minority thing here.
As for jaded, damn right I am. I guess perhaps I could have found 3 beers to make a taster set but it's more that it all felt a little uninspiring. Sure, we are spoiled nowadays with big tap lists and plenty of choice for bars, and it has made us all a little bit more fussy. But the perceived extra choice doesn't really equate to more options as far as I can see. Yes, there's a greater number of bars but so many of them are almost identical. I know blind tastings of beers can be pretty revealing so I wish there was some way we could do a blind visiting of bars. I think some of the managers and owners of some bars might find it difficult to distinguish their own places. Maybe through the glassware, but that's about it.
Anyway, maybe this is not the time and place for this, but I will say I'm looking forward to Craft & Romance.

Mothy said...

Interesting they had weird pours. The Craftsman location I went to didn't seem to have that problem.

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

It does definitely seem to be the case that this place is pretty different from the others going by what people are saying. Has anyone been to both?
I suppose the same kind of variation happens with different CBMs too.

Steve said...

From the times I have walked from the Yokohama train station to Thrash Zone, I seem to think that in the not-so-recent past, this was a(n) Hub pub! Could somebody here confirm or deny me, please?

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Thanks for the comment Steve. I think this is a pretty new building so maybe there was a Hub there before, but there isn't now.