Friday, 21 July 2017



Today a post about a bar I have been waiting to visit for a while. First of all, in the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I am friends with the owner who first contacted me through this blog. He has been wanting to open a bar in Tokyo for a while now and I've been eagerly awaiting the chance to visit his creation. It's now open so I'm posting about it on here. Brew La La's concept is a New York style bar serving craft beer and a wide range of other kinds of drinks too, the idea being that it's not just a craft beer bar, but more of a bar that happens to have craft beer. I visited on their grand opening night, so perhaps I didn't get a true feel for the place, but will be back soon and if anything on here is wrong, I'll fix it afterwards. Here's what you need to know.

- Pretty spacious compared to many of the other places on here. Seating for about 40, with eight at the bar, 12 at a counter along the windows, and around 20 seats at high tables. There is also a large communal standing table and a sofa. The decor is unsurprisingly New York themed and they have what I imagine must be the only shuffleboard table in a bar in Japan. The second floor corner location gives views of the local Shinbashi nightlife if that's your thing. Also there are a few TVs dotted around and a projector and big screen for special events.
- 12 taps (or at least the capacity for 12 and apparently they are building towards having that number on all the time). At the moment there are a few less on, which makes sense as the place is pretty new and its popularity is still growing. Better to keep your beers fresh, rather than having a huge amount of taps where the beer is a bit old. All beers are served at the same price and in two sizes, 266ml and 400ml and they are priced at ¥700 and ¥1000 respectively. They are a verified venue on untappd, so you can check out what they have on tap at all times here, but judging by their opening taplists it seems to be mainly Japanese with some imports thrown in, covering a range of styles. There is also a growing selection of bottles and cans, mainly imports.
- New York themed bar snacks available with the focus being burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. Have yet to try the grilled cheese but it looked very nice. They also now have a lunch menu too which includes, but is not limited to the grilled cheese sandwiches.
- No smoking and no cover charge. English spoken, so if your Japanese is not good, or non-existent you'll be fine here.

So, a fun new place in an area where there is a bit of competition, but I think the New York theme and atmosphere means that they are offering something a little different. I'm no New York expert, in fact I think it would be more accurate to describe myself as a complete New York novice, so I can't tell you how authentic it is, but the feel was nice and it's good to find a bar with plenty of seating which isn't squeezed into a tiny place. This also probably means that it will be somewhere where it's possible to walk up and have some drinks without a reservation as even when all the seats are taken there is still plenty of room to stand. I'm yet to try to shuffleboard, but that looks like fun. Although I worry I might end up getting some fingers broken somehow.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Ushi Tora
Izu No Kuni
Oh La Ho
Hitachino Nest

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 11:00-14:00, 17:00-24:00
Saturday, 17:00-24:00
Closed Sunday

新橋 3-2-2 2F, Minato-ku, Tokyo



Monday, 17 July 2017

Alpha Beta Coffee Club

Alpha Beta Coffee club was kindly suggested to me by a reader of this blog. He said it was fast becoming his go to place to drink. Bizarrely, considering I pass through the station twice a day, three or four times a week, I have never actually been to Jiyugaoka, so this was an all round exciting experience for me. Well, maybe that's overdoing it a little, but I had a nice time here, sitting on the roof terrace enjoying a happy hour pint on my way to the football. As you have probably guessed from the name of the place, it's fair to say that beer is not the main focus of this establishment, but it is an important part of their business it seems. Here's what you need to know.

- On the 3rd floor of a fairly unlikely looking office-type building. Open, bright and airy with plenty of seating. The decor is modern and the whole place feels kind of trendy and brand-spanking-new. The main focus is a large communal table in the middle of the cafe. There is also a nice patio/roof terrace with lots of bench seating round the outside. It was a very pleasant place to sit on a not too hot summer's day.
- Five taps of craft beer, dominated by US imports. On the day I visited, they were all US imports in fact, but they did have a Kyoto beer listed as coming next. There is also a small fridge of bottles and cans with probably round about 20 different beers in stock. Beer is served in two sizes, pint (US) and glass (who knows... but probably around 225-250ml judging by the price. If anyone can tell me, please do). All beers were priced the same, ¥1200 and ¥650, so not the cheapest. However, they have a happy hour from Monday to Friday from 18:00-21:00 when the prices are ¥950 and ¥500 (very nice!).
- Obviously, given that it's a cafe it's open during the daytime. In fact it's open from 08:00, but not sure how many people drink beer at that time. The shop itself is no smoking, they have wifi and there is no cover charge. Think they allow smoking on the terrace though. Well, at least someone was smoking on the terrace when I was there.

This is a nice option for daytime drinking in an area that is woefully under-represented on my map at the moment. Whilst the taplist isn't so exciting, being made up of beers that are seen around in plenty of other places, there does always seems to be something nice on. The happy hour prices make it an inviting destination and I'm sure that the design and feel, and the scarcity of options locally mean it will be popular at other times too.

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
Kyoto (sometimes, but mainly imports)

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 08:00-23:00
Saturday, 09:00-23:00
Sunday, 09:00-21:00

ミルシェ自由が丘 3F, 自由が丘 2-10-4, Meguro-ku, Tokyo



Sunday, 16 July 2017

Beer Ma Base

It's taken me a while to get here, but I finally did it. A few people had told me that this place was a lot more fun that the Beer Ma bar in Kita Senju. Depending on your point of view though, there are a few disadvantages, the most significant of which is the fact that it's in a pretty inconvenient location compared to the other one. But this is all relative I guess. And what it lacks in convience it makes up for in fun. At least in my opinion. But then again, I am partial to a walk in fridge. Here's what you need to know.

- Unusual layout with a huge walk in fridge on the ground floor and the cash register, glass shop and drinking space upstairs. This is where you should head first, rather than walking straight into the fridge. The system is that you leave your bag upstairs, take a token and a basket and then head downstairs. I have to admit, I'm not sure what the token part is for, I just copied the guy in front of me, but I suppose it is a bit like your passport to enter the fridge. You then head back upstairs to pay.
- Big, big bottle selection. This is the warehouse for Beer Ma and their Rakuten webshop page Sake no Taniguchi. Not sure if they also supply bars but there is a serious amount of stock here. The selection feels bigger than at Beer Ma and features beers from all the big beer making countries (and quite a few of the small ones...), with plenty of US and Belgian stuff. Beers are sold to take away or for on site consumption, like at the other branch. Unlike Beer Ma, there aren't any taps. It's all about the bottles here.
- The bar feels pretty relaxed and much more pleasant than the other place. There are even seats here! Definitely somewhere where you'd want to spend a bit more time. In the other bar, I always got the impression that they didn't want you to stay particularly long, but here the atmosphere is pretty laid back. The place is no smoking and they have wifi. There's no cover charge, but understandably there is a corkage fee of ¥200 per small bottle and ¥200 per glass for the larger bottles. But remember you are basically drinking for beer shop prices so the fee isn't so bad. Take cash with you, as they don't accept cards, which is a bit of a shame as I reckon many people probably end up wanting to spend more than they have on them.

In conclusion, it's a similar set up to Beer Ma, but in spite of being much less like a bar, ends up being a lot more comfortable than the bar. The location means that it isn't the easiest place to get to. I walked from Kita Senju and it took about 20 minutes. It's geographically closer to other stations just over the river from it, but the fact that you have to go a fair bit out of your way to cross the river means that you might be better off just going from Kita Senju after all. Or Senjuohashi, which is quite a bit closer, but isn't on the most convenient of lines for me. If you're after taps, then clearly Beer Ma is better for you, but if you want bottles and a more enjoyable drinking experience, but are not bothered about walking a bit further, then Beer Ma Base is the place for you!

Japanese breweries recently seen on tap:
No taps, bottles only

Opening Hours:
Daily, 12:00-19:00 (but it might be worth checking before you go)

千住緑町 1-22-10, Adachi-ku, Tokyo


Facebook (joint facebook with Beer Ma)
Website (online shop)