Thursday, 15 December 2016

Beer Ma


This is the new bar from the people who were running World Beer Market on the other side of Kita Senju station. That shop has now closed and they have opened Beer Ma, a bar and bottle shop on the west side of the station and also Beer Ma Base, their warehouse which also functions as a bottle shop, one station away. I was planning to go to both but thought there probably wasn’t much point as I figured that whatever they’d have in their warehouse would also be in their shop. Perhaps I wasn’t quite right about this, so maybe I’ll have to visit and add Beer Ma Base another time. But for the time being this will have to do.

- Interesting looking place. Shop front has a bit of a pre-packaged distressed ‘artiness’ about it with lots of bits of colored sheet metal on it. Interior is concrete heavy in a Brewdog bar kind of way, or at least that’s what it reminded me of. Front part of the shop is the standing bar, with a bar counter and another counter along the other wall. The back part is the bottle shop. When we visited on a Sunday afternoon it was pretty busy and the turnover of customers was quite high. I guess the idea is that you stay for a couple and then move on, hence there being no seats. Perhaps the temperature in the shop also was intended to have this effect as it was pretty warm in there! Guess they might be overdoing it due to the big sliding door which lets in a lot of cold air every time someone arrives or leaves. To be honest I think the standing place by the door might be the best place to stand at the moment as the cold breeze was quite a pleasant relief from the heat at times. By the way, be careful with the door. I saw a couple of people get their hand nipped by it. Constant stream of light smooth jazz and Bossa Nova music. Maybe this is also supposed to contribute to the fast turnover of customers!
- Ten taps of craft beer, mainly imported with what seems to be an emphasis on Brewdog, Stone and the like. Seems that the tap selections veer towards the more mainstream. However, since they opened I have also seen them have some much more interesting stuff on too, so maybe I was just unlucky when I went. Prices ranged from ¥850-¥1200 but the size of the glasses varied and there were no sizes mentioned. I have a suspicion that the glasses were also not as big as they looked, a 650ml bomber pretty much filled two ‘pint’ glasses with not much head. Either my maths is not very good or the ‘pints’ are a bit smaller than what the name would suggest. For the taps, you can order at the counter or at the till. You pay as you go. [PRICE UPDATE: Regular (400ml), ¥1100-¥2000(!), Small (265ml), ¥800-¥1700(!)]
- Huge bottle selection, as you would expect from a beer shop. Whilst the choice is a little smaller than it was in the previous location there were still a large number of bottled beers from many different countries available. I felt that the Japanese selection had shrunk quite a bit, with some of the more unusual Japanese breweries they used to stock not being present. However the US selection is big and there is quite a lot of Belgian stuff too. I wonder if the selection at Beer Ma Base is the same, or if Beer Ma represents what they consider to be the highlights of their whole range. The price on the fridge is the beer price without tax, which is added at the till. To drink in, they charge you a ¥100 corkage fee, plus a charge of ¥100 per glass. [The Kanda branch's corkage fees are ¥200, so I suspect it's not the same here. Will update if I get confirmation]. I didn’t really work out whether they are happy with you reusing the same glass or you are supposed to get a new glass with every beer. [Got some clarification and you are supposed to get new glasses with each beer] Our group kind of did a bit of both. Even with these fees, the bottle prices are pretty good. Much better than the taps I think.
- Some food available. Think there was a lasagne and a few other small dishes. The other quick bits of info you need are that there is no cover charge and no wifi. They are open during the day for beer sales, but I believe you need to wait till the evening to drink on site.

All in all, I think this is a pretty interesting place to have as an option. I have always thought good things about their beer selection and although this has dropped a little, (at least in this location rather than at Beer Ma Base which might have more), it’s still one of the best in Tokyo. I’m not really sure the taps will be the thing that gets me to visit, although as they publish their taplist on their Facebook, if I spot something I want, I’ll pop in. The drink on site bottle shop is a great thing though. I think the corkage fee is perfectly reasonable and the prices good. The atmosphere is a little strange, but I think most people will either not notice it or maybe even enjoy it. It was pretty busy when we visited and I imagine that this will also be the case in the future. Will update this post when I manage to get to Beer Ma Base and clarify a few details, but this is clearly a place that will be of interest to quite a few beer lovers.

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None when I was there, but think they occasionally have some

Opening Hours: 

Monday-Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, 12:00-22:00
Sunday & holidays, 12:00-21:00
Closed Thursday
Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 16:00-24:00
Saturday, 14:00-24:00
Sunday & holidays, 14:00-21:00
Closed Thursday


千住 2-62, Adachi-ku, Tokyo



Ratebeer listing


Mothy said...

Wish this one was closer to me. Sounds great.

Alex said...

It definitely is hot as a MF in there---it's been sweltering every time I've been in. Pretty convenient for me as I work nearby. The taps do turn over really quickly, so if you weren't too keen on what was on when you went, just keep an eye on the FB. I've had some really good tap beers there. The pint glasses are indeed the classic "cheater pints" and they hold about 13oz. Still though, the best deals are the bottles---very reasonable and great selection. Another plus is that there are loads of interesting and cheap izakaya in the area.

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Popped in again last night and it was hot again. I think lots of people love this place. I'm still not quite sure myself, but it's definitely a good place to have available. More in favour of the bottle shop part at the moment though.

Robert said...

Hello! May I get the address for Beer Ma Base? Planning to visit the bottle shop since it looks like they have more choices there :) If you could give me google map instruction that would be great. Thanks you and awesome blog! I'll be visiting Japan by end of February, cheers! - @thebeerpadawan

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Hello Robert,
Thanks for the comment. Here is a link to a google map for Beer Ma Base,139.7905524,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x41a5be5eade2d002!8m2!3d35.7442374!4d139.7905524
I'm not sure they'll have a great deal more there (maybe I said otherwise in the post). I think I recently saw something that said they have 1600 varieties in Beer Ma and 1700 in Beer Ma Base. Or something like that anyway. Can't remember exactly. As I haven't been to Beer Ma Base, I can't say for sure to be honest. What kind of things are you looking for?

F.M said...

Having visited both places, my vote goes hands-down to Beer Ma Base. Sure, the location is less convenient and it involves a 10min walk to/from the station, however, for me, that's part of the attraction. What's not to like about drinking in a warehouse near the riverside after having chosen one's beers from an industrial sized refrigerator? (tip, bring an extra layer and hat as you could be in there a while given the massive selection!). Beer ma Base is industrial-chic cool without any hint of pretentiousness. I went with a couple of friends on a weekday at around 5pm and had the place to ourselves until 7pm closing, meaning we were able to use the very comfortable sofa seats, rather than stand. From memory the drink-in 'corkage' was 200yen per bottle. Smoke-free, 12pm~ opening hours (daily) and jazz BGM at a discreet volume to round off a perfect drinking experience. This place is magic.

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Thanks for the comment F.M. It's on my list of places to go and what you have said makes me think I should prioritise it. Do you think the selection is any different to the other place?

F.M said...

Both places have a similar selection of beers, but I would say that Base has the upper hand given its vast storage space. The chances are you'll find something available at Base that isn't available at Kita Senju, rather than the other way around. I forgot to mention that Base also has an incredible range of glassware for sale. Last but not least, I also forgot to say a big THANK YOU for all the hard yards that have gone into your blog. I found it the other day completely by chance. Bravo!

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Cheers F.M!