Saturday, 23 June 2018

Mikkeller Beer Celebration Tokyo


Today a quick post about an upcoming beer festival that has got quite a lot of people talking. Mikkeller are bringing their epic Beer Celebration festival to Tokyo for the first time in September and it looks like being something quite different from the beer festivals that we are used to in Japan. I’m not going to go into too much detail as all the information is available on either their facebook page or website. I’ll just give you a rundown on the format and what you can expect. Apologies if you are already well aware of this festival. There can’t be too many people who read this blog and haven’t heard about it. But there may be some who are not aware of the format and what they can expect to enjoy there.

- Two day festival on Sunday September 23rd and Monday September 24th (which is a holiday in case you were wondering). Split up into four three and a half hour long sessions. Tickets can be purchased for a particular session but you can also get a ticket for all four sessions, and one for all four sessions which also gives you 20 minutes early access to each session and a goodie bag, so there are plenty of options to consider. All tickets include your own tasting glass.
- Each session is all you can drink and will feature two unique beers from 40 breweries, many of which have never been seen in Japan before. For many people this is the real draw, as it’s an opportunity to try lots of rare beers from far-flung destinations in the US, Europe and Asia. Over the course of all four sessions there will be 320 different beers available. Good luck trying to get through all of those. Many beers will be flown in alongside their brewers who will also be attending. And there is a promise that the beers will be taken from the breweries ‘best and craziest’ offerings.
- There’ll also be a bottle shop, so that in the event that you’ve not had enough beer during the festival, you can take some home and continue the boozing.
- Large selection of food offerings from Mikkeller Tokyo’s favourite collaborators, including Sun 2 Diner, Good Hood Food, Sake Bozu, Sunshine Juice and Onibus Coffee.
- Held in central Tokyo at Meijijingu Gaien Softball ground. There will apparently be huge 6m tents in case the weather is not so nice.

I’ve added some links below so you can get some more information, regarding timings and pricing and that kind of thing. You can also check out the list of breweries involved. There’s going to be some amazing stuff there and it looks like it’s going to be a very special event. I’ve heard that there will be a pre-event party sometime in July at Mikkeller Tokyo if you need any more encouragement. I’ll post about that when I know more. Lovely!

Location/Map: 
道玄坂 2-19-11, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


Links:
Website
Facebook event page
Tickets
Brewery List
Food

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Beer Ma Kanda


Today a post about a fairly new branch for Beer Ma, who up till now have been mainly all about the Kita Senju area of Tokyo, but have now ventured further into the centre. This is great for me, as it feels a lot easier to go to a Kanda bottle shop and bar than a Kita Senju one. I say feels, as in reality, Kita Senju isn’t actually that far away, and it’s actually pretty convenient for me to get to. This branch will certainly be more accessible for tourists though (unless they are staying in Minami Senju as many people seem to be doing recently). There’s not a great deal of difference between this place and Beer Ma to be honest, so I’ll point you in the direction of that post here. But at the risk of boring you all by repeating myself, here’s what you need to know.

- Concrete and wood type new place split over three floors, the ground floor being the main bar area, the second floor being the bottle shop (with some standing tables and a couple of taps on beers on nitro) and the basement being the ‘goods’ area. I guess this means beer glasses, t-shirts, that kind of thing, but it was closed when I visited so can’t be sure. Like the Kita Senju place, this is also standing only, so I’m guessing they don’t expect people to hang around too long.
- Ground floor has eight taps, usually split 5/3 between imported beers and Japanese stuff. The imports usually tend to be from the US but I have spotted Belgian and Danish stuff too, plus the occasional Brewdog. Second floor has the unusual selling point of having two more beers available, but this time on nitro. This is the first time I’ve seen this in Japan I think. Not sure I’ve seen it in the UK either actually. Beers on the ground floor are served in three sizes, priced as follows: L (400ml) - ¥1000-¥1200, M (324ml) - ¥900-¥1100 and S (265ml) - ¥700-¥900. The second floor stuff seems to be only served in the large size. Taplist is posted daily on their facebook.
- There is also a huge bottle selection (800 beers apparently) available to take away or drink on site. To drink in the bar you pay a small corkage fee, which I seem to remember was ¥200 for a normal sized bottle and ¥200 per glass for a large bottle. Selection size is similar to Beer Ma and less than Beer Ma Base as you’d expect.
- No cover charge, no smoking and a tiny little bit of daytime opening.

I only paid a quick visit to pick up some bottles and that was a few weeks ago so may have forgotten some of the details. Beer Ma branches are right up there as some of the best places to buy bottles to take away in Tokyo. The prices are reasonable and the selection is great. The tap prices and selection are less exciting with the unusual sizes disguising what are a bit higher than usual prices. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever actually had anything on tap in their places as there is always more interesting stuff in the fridges. The nitro taps are a unique feature too. As I haven’t actually had a beer here yet, I won’t comment on the atmosphere, but this has to go down as a pretty good place to drink based on selection alone. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll definitely try to check it out and report back here.



Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Johana
Minoh
Far Yeast
Ise Kadoya
Oni Densetsu

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday, 16:00-23:00
Sunday, 16:00-21:00

Location/Map:
鍛冶町1-6-4, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-3527-1900

Links:
Facebook

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Inazuma Dining


Today, another relatively new brewpub and, as seems to have been the case recently, one which has actually managed to start brewing. Still waiting for the Watering Hole to do so six years on! I think I constantly gripe about Roppongi on here and I have to say that my opinions on the area haven’t changed. But being invited for a beer by a friend at Inazuma gave me the perfect opportunity to tick it and Fujizakura off in one go. Great! Now just the remaining 200 or so bars on the backlog to deal with. Anyway, here’s what you need to know.

- Basement bar, below the street level brewery. Pretty small place with a small counter for five or six and tables for maybe 12 more. Fairly classy feel to it, but maybe I was given that impression by the food, which had an Italian feel, was pretty snazzily presented and was also pretty nice.
- Ten taps, eight of which were on when we visited. Three of them were their own beers, with the others being a mix of Japanese craft and US imports. All beers were served in one size only. Unfortunately, I have left it too long between visiting and writing this, so can’t really give an accurate estimate of the size, but I remember it being somewhere between US pint and half. If I’m going to have a stab in the dark, I’d say a little over 300ml. Their beers were priced from ¥750-¥800. The Japanese guests (including the never before seen Shiki!) ranged from ¥880-¥980 and the US imports were from ¥980-¥1080. Given my lack of certainty over the size of the servings I can’t really speak for the value, but the US ones, which were an imperial stout and a triple IPA, seemed pretty reasonable. One thing though, tax is added at the end, so it’s actually a little more than I suggested above. They also have a bottle selection with some Belgian stuff. Didn’t see the prices though. Oh, and they post their taplist on facebook if you want to check out what they have before you visit.
- Suprisingly, no cover charge. The place is also no smoking. Two things I’m all in favour of.

So there you have it. It was good to get to try another new brewery and it was good to see Shiki available for the first time. I wonder if there is some kind of connection between Inazuma and them. The location is a minus for me, but that’s just me, and it will probably be a plus for some. And, depending on your point of view, the other potential plus point is that you can only get Inazuma beer here. Their guests were pretty interesting too. The Daisen Barley wine and Knee Deep were very nice. Not sure when I will be making me way back there, but I’m always in favour of people starting new breweries and giving it a go, rather than starting a new bar with nothing original about it.


Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Inazuma

Shiki
Marca
Daisen

Opening Hours:
Monday, 18:00-23:15
Tuesday-Friday, 11:30-14:30, 18:00-23:15
Saturday & holidays, 14:00-23:15
Closed Sunday

Location/Map:
六本木 3-6-9, Minato-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-6441-2802

Links:
Facebook
Website

Friday, 15 June 2018

Beer Bar Fujizakura Roppongi


Sorry about the photo... Today a place that I’ve always fancied going to but have been put off by the location and the cost. Fujizakura always seem to make very nice beers and they are a brewery I always head for at Keyaki to try their new seasonals so I was pleased when I heard they were opening a Tokyo tap room and happy I finally made it there, late on a Friday night. Here’s what you need to know.

- Very fancy place, designed with a higher end crowd in mind. Looks much more like a classy Japanese restaurant rather than a beer bar with smartly dressed staff and a long counter for around 14. A couple of other tables for two in the main bar area and five private rooms where you pay an extra ¥500 charge for the privilege. Seems a bit sneaky that if you are in a group of more than two, you’ll either be sitting in a line along the counter or will have to pay extra in order to be able to talk to your companions.
- 10 taps on when I visited, four of their regular beers, two seasonals and four Japanese craft guests (Baird, Shiga, Oni Densetsu, Kyoto). Fujizakura regulars are served in three sizes, M (350-300ml, ¥700), L (400-500ml, ¥1000) and LL (1000ml, ¥1900). Seasonals are a little more expensive, ¥800 for the M and ¥1150 for the L. Guests are all priced the same, M being ¥800 for 285ml and L being ¥1150 for 400ml. So it’s not the cheapest place around. Add on the ¥300 cover charge too. They also have a beer flight of 4 x 200ml for ¥2000. Not sure if you can choose which beers make up the flight, but it seems to be Fujizakura beers only.
- No smoking establishment and does some daytime opening on Saturday. Seemed pretty busy even when we went there late on a Friday so if you’re determined to visit you should probably consider booking.

So, there you have it. The pricing is a bit of a let down for me. You can get their beers in plenty of other places and pay significantly less for them. If you’re visiting from overseas and are a fan of German style beers this would be a very nice place to consume some of the best German style Japanese beers. The decor and atmosphere would probably be a lot more exciting for tourists too. A friend said this is an excellent place for a business dinner and I can totally see that, but as I am practically the polar opposite of a businessman, that’s not really an issue for me. But I’m glad I finally managed to visit as it seemed somehow like something I needed to tick off. Mission accomplished!


Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Fujizakura

Shiga Kogen
Kyoto
Oni Densetsu
Baird

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-00:30
Saturday, 15:00-00:30
Closed Sunday

Location/Map:
六本木 4-8-7, B1F, Minato-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:
03-5411-3333

Links:
Facebook
Website