Thursday, 16 May 2019

Fiesta Garcia


A quick diversion to Shizuoka today. To be more specific, Shizuoka city. I've been here before and was surprised to see that I hadn't written up the place I went to last time which was Aoi Beer Stand. To be honest though, it wasn't my favourite place, but I'll add it to the digest soon. On this trip we also went to Craft Beer Station and Biru No Yokota. Both of them are now on digest post number 4 as I didn't think they justified a full write up. As part of the ongoing struggle to make this blog a bit more manageable, I keep changing my standards for inclusion. I'm quite happy with where we are now, with unvisited or unexciting places getting a mention on the digest post and places that are good or noteworthy getting a full write up. This does mean though that there are probably plenty of posts on here on places which don't really deserve to have a full post anymore. But going back and deleting them and moving them to a digest post seems to be a complete waste of time so I won't do that. I think I might write a pinned post explaining the new inclusion criteria. Anyway, this is all a diversion but should give you a hint as to how much I liked this place. In a city with quite a few bars, many of which either showcase one brewery's beers or have lots of imports, Fiesta Garcia stands out for its quality. I really liked this place. Here's what you need to know:

- Slightly tricky to find. Get to the google maps location and you'll see what looks like a little corridor/alley through the building with lots of restaurants and bars in it. Look out for that big blue Bayern Meister flag shown in the picture. It was maybe about halfway along the corridor, but probably not exactly where it shows on google maps. The main bar area is pretty small with perhaps five counter seats and a little table for two. However there is another seating area with some more tables (maybe for about 10) and another small bar next door which you get to by walking past the side of the counter. At first we didn't notice it was the same place and thought we had been unlucky given that the main area was full. It also looked like there was an upstairs area, but it wasn't in use when we were there. This place is a Peruvian restaurant and bar, and feels pretty relaxed and comfortable.
- Eight taps of beer, some of which veered towards the bigger side of imported craft beer (actually, I think some of them actually are 'crafty' not craft). The big selling point for me was the three taps of Bayern Meister. This is a beer that you don't often see outside of Shizuoka and was why we went here. Beer is served in two sizes, pint and regular. The pint is US, I believe, and the regular was probably about 300-350ml. Brooklyn Lager and a Far Yeast beer were the lowest priced at ¥850 and ¥600 for the two sizes. The high end were a US imported IPA and the high alcohol Bayern Meister beers and these cost ¥1200 and ¥800. They also had some cans and bottles in the fridge but I didn't get a close look for either price or selection. Sorry!
- No smoking, some super late opening and no cover charge. I don't normally mention the food in this section but as I've declined to do it above, I will now. We had some really nice cheese based dishes. I believe they might make their own cheese actually. Didn't check out the rest of the menu, but if you're in the market for cheese or other (non-specified by me) Peruvian dishes along with some lovely Bayern Meister beer, this is the place for you!

Yeah, I realise I could have done a better job on this post, but this was our first stop on a pretty busy schedule and I was reveling in the excitement of a 4-0 away victory so I didn't exactly pay much attention. If it's feelings you're interested in, I really enjoyed this place. The solitary bartender was very friendly and did a great job of pouring beers from two bars and cooking food. This was a really nice surprise and was definitely the highlight of our Shizuoka drinking. It's nice to find somewhere with a bit of a different concept and there was a multi-national thrill in drinking German style Japanese beer made by a German in a Peruvian bar/restaurant in Shizuoka. Will definitely go back next time we're in town. Cheers!

Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Bayern Meister

Far Yeast

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday, 18:00-01:00
Friday & Saturday, 18:00-03:00
Sunday, 15:00-22:00
Closed Monday

Location/Map:

七間町11-5, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka



Telephone:   
080-6924-3379
 
Links:
Facebook

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Garapago Racing Kaisei Handmade Beer


The fantastically named Garapago Racing Kaisei Handmade Beer is a brewery west out of Tokyo on the Odakyu line, almost in Odawara. Although my picture doesn’t show it, it’s in a really nice location with mountains on two sides in the not too far distance. Given that it’s in an area where it seems like the town is meeting the countryside it’s no surprise that it's pretty big. It's the kind of place that would cost an absolute fortune to build in Tokyo and would probably have to be supported by a huge corporation. Here’s what you need to know:

- Very nice looking place in a nice setting. Ground floor has the brewery, kitchen, counter for eight and tables for the same. Upstairs is the big sell. It’s a bright airy room with tables for around 20 and glass doors looking out on to a patio/veranda with nice views of the surrounding mountains and it was very nice to sit out there. The whole place feels modern but comfortable at the same time and is done to a high standard. Lovely!
- Eight taps of beer, six of which were their own creations. Beers are served in two sizes, glass (370ml) and pint (472ml). Prices range from ¥500-¥800 for the glass and ¥650-¥1000 for the pint. They also serve beer flights but the details are being worked on at the moment so I’m not sure about the pricing. We had a flight of all the taps which was quite fun, but I think they are happy to serve smaller flights too. Please enquire.
- Daytime opening, no smoking (I think), and wifi. There was a small cover charge but it’s a bit of mystery. If anyone knows more than I do, please let me know and I’ll update this, but it seemed to be the case that you could chose what you wanted from four options, with each option being ¥100 each. I think… I haven’t really checked enough details for this, have I? Sorry…

I always like to visit a new brewery much more than a new pub to be honest. The huge selling point of this place is the scenery and the patio. It was really nice to sit outside admiring the view. I wish I’d worn sun cream though as the brightness and the heat caused me to have to retreat back inside after a few minutes. You can still enjoy the view from inside though. The staff were very friendly and this was a really fun place to visit. I usually say, ‘pop in if you’re in the area’, but I’m not sure how many people are in the area around here. However, you can easily combine it with a visit to Yggdrasil, as we did, and some places in Chigasaki. Lovely!


Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Garapago Racing
Kakegawa Farm
Loco

Opening Hours:
(They don't have their hours on Facebook so I can't be sure, but these ones are from tabelog)
Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 15:00-22:00
Saturday, 11:30-22:00
Sunday, 11:30-21:00
Closed Tuesday

Location/Map:

みなみ 1-3-4 , Kaisei,

Telephone:   
0465-44-4552
 
Links:
Facebook

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Nishiike Mart / Snark Liquidworks


Post by James

Nishiike Mart / Snark Liquidworks is a newly opened bar and brewery in the West Ikebukuro Kanamecho area. This area has suddenly become one of the best in Tokyo for a crawl.

My photo really doesn’t do it justice at all and the interior is a lot better than the outside.

The building is very old and used to be a market (hence the name). I loved the interior. You can still see the old timber beams in the ceiling and there is lots of wood everywhere. There are even some antiques and the whole place has a quirky but nice atmosphere. For me at least, it manages to come across as a bit trendy but totally unpretentious.

I guess this place could seat at least 40 so it is big considering the area it’s in. There are five counter seats facing the bar and three facing the kitchen wall. Several quite large tables and some sofas.

The brewing room is visible from the counter and it looked surprisingly big. There were only four taps on when I was in, one of which was their own. I guess they will have more taps and more of their own beers once they are fully up and running. Prices were ¥1100 for a pint and ¥800 for a regular. That’s pretty good these days. 

The kitchen was also not fully operational but it was relatively big and they said they’re working on the menu.

Opening seems to be from 15:00 and there’s no charge and free WiFi.

The owner and the chef are older than a lot of people running craft beer bars but that made it pretty comfortable for an old timer like myself.

Like I said, it isn’t really in full swing yet but I liked this place and I’ll definitely go back soon.

Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Snark Liquidworks
TK Brewing
Loco
Devil Craft

Opening Hours: 
Best check their facebook at the moment, nothing seems fixed yet

Location/Map:

西池袋 4-19-14, Toshima-ku, Tokyo



Telephone:  
None

 
Links:
Nishiike Mart Facebook
Snark Liquidworks Facebook

Website

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Beer Boy Kichijoji

I have been meaning to try this place for a while as it seemed like an interesting twist on the usual Craft Beer Market concept. The twist is that there are less taps and it’s more like an Izakaya than a CBM. Going to a concert in Kichijoji gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. Even though I said I was interested in the twist, it’s probably not completely up my street, as for vegetarians, Izakaya food is often just chips and edamame. This comment has made me realize that I probably should have had a look at the food menu, but sadly I didn’t. Instead I will just presume, and by doing so make a ‘pre’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. Hmmm, that one doesn’t work so well. In any case, here’s what you need to know:

- Craft Beer Market but an Izakaya. You can take this thought and use it to work out the decor (Izakaya like but with beer paraphernalia spread around and felt a bit slicker and less weathered than some Izakaya’s do, probably due to it not having been open so long and being no smoking), and the feel (boozing and eating in a pretty relaxed place) and what’s up for grabs (Izakaya food and craft beer). Long counter for maybe 15 and three big tables for eight each. I guess these tables are for sharing.
- 10 taps, but one of them is Kirin Heartland so they are missing out on the 10 Taps tag on here. Pricing and beer selection seems to be pretty different to the usual CBMs. In those places the pricing is pretty universal for good and bad stuff, the cheapness of the good beers being offset by the over-pricing of the not so good stuff. Here there seems to be a focus on ‘rare’ or different beers. It’s very US import heavy, with only two taps of Japanese stuff when I visited. Pricing is significantly higher than CBMs and to be honest, seems a little higher than many other bars. 250ml halves range from ¥480-¥980 with the lower end being a TY Harbor beer. Their house beer made for them by Outsider came in at ¥780 a half which seemed pretty pricy to me. Pints (473ml) range from ¥780 (the TY Harbor again) to ¥1580. The list featured plenty of American fruit sours, Hazy/Brut/Milkshake IPAs and some stronger stuff. Clearly they are riding the wave of current beer trends. Whether that’s a good thing for you, depends on your taste I guess. The are some bottles and cans in the fridge too, in similar styles and similarly priced.
- Unusually for a CBM and very welcome given the higher prices, they seemed to not have a cover charge. As mentioned above they are no smoking. They have WIFI and there’s some weekend daytime opening. Which I guess is quite a few of my boxes ticked.

I’m a bit torn about this place. I think it’s just me though. For people who want to drink the latest styles in a kind of relaxed place, but one which I actually found a bit ‘cooler than thou’, this is a great place I guess. I wasn’t that excited by the tap list but once again, that’s probably just me. You can check it on their website or facebook and decide for yourself. The pricing was a bit of a shock as I hadn’t checked it beforehand and I imagined it to be in line with CBMs. I think the big selling point of CBMs is the prices. I’m always aware when I drink there that not everything is going to be delicious and in a way, trying some beers from breweries that sound like they could be a bit sketchy at a low price is half the fun. Here I found myself underwhelmed by beers that I’d paid quite a lot for. But again, that’s maybe just me. Perhaps I were a bit younger, a bit cooler and a bit more interested in Milkshake IPAs this would be the place for me. So maybe if you fit with one of those it might be the place for you.


Japanese breweries seen on tap: 
Outsider
TY Harbor

Opening Hours: 
Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 17:00-01:00
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 14:30-01:00
Closed Tuesday

Location/Map:

吉祥寺南町 2-8-8, Musashino-shi, Tokyo



Telephone:  
0422-29-9112

Links:
Facebook
Website

Monday, 22 April 2019

Loose ends/various places Part 4

This is part four of what will be constantly updated posts with brief descriptions of places that possibly deserve to be on here but which I have either no time or inclination to visit. Part one is here, part two here, three is here or you can view all of them by clicking the digest tag, or just clicking here. I have tried various ways of keeping up to date with the crazy amount of places that are opening and have been struggling with deciding which places warrant including and which don't. This seems to be a reasonable way of dealing with them. They will remain on the map with a question mark as I can't vouch for any of these. The map will link to this post where places will be listed in alphabetical order with a short description and link which should give you some idea of what to expect and whether it's worth going to. There will be no tags, as that will just confuse matters I think. If I end up going to any of these places and they are worthy of a full write up, I'll remove them from here and make them a post of their own. Not everything on the backlog will be on here. This is mainly intended for what I imagine to be a bit less interesting but still worth mentioning places.

Aoi Beer Stand - Shizuoka
Pretty small place, which contrary to the name is mainly some seats at the counter. I think there was a small standing area too though. Six taps of their own beer on tap. Think they have quite a few places in town, but this seemed like the easiest to just pop in to in the daytime.
Facebook

Bar Sal's - Saginuma
Sister bar of Craftheads (which was in Shibuya and soon will be in Sangenjaya). Perhaps due to the location, this place seems quite off the radar for most people. From the Facebook it seems that they have similar beers to Craftheads ie. some good and some rotten Japanese stuff along with exotic US imports. If you’ve ever been to Craftheads you probably have your own opinions about that place, and I guess this place would probably give you the same feelings. Bonus opinion from someone who's actually been there 'Sal's is much more chill than Craftheads.'
Facebook

B & W - Yokohama

B & W means beer and wine so I guess you know what you’re getting here. Looks like a nice cosy place with three taps of craft beer. No idea about prices though.
Facebook

Beer & Wine Hula - Shiki
Seems to mainly have Japanese craft or varying qualities. Not much online presence and probably not much excitement here, but there’s nothing else in the area so it makes it on to here.
Website

Biru No Yokota - Shizuoka
Visited here recently. Big place with big reasonably priced taplist, (15 taps, mostly Baird, mostly around ¥1000 a US pint). Seems to have a strong Baird connection as a few places in Shizuoka do. Order at the bar and pay as you go. If you are a fan of Baird beer, they have a special house beer made by them here for you to try.
Facebook

Craft Beer Station - Shizuoka
Visited here recently as it had some beers from Octagon, a Shizuoka brewery you don't see around very often. Pretty expensive place with six taps, mostly Japanese. Prices went up to ¥1500 for a US pint! Bottles and cans in the fridge too. Quite small. Perhaps in the past I would have done a full post for this place, but to be honest, it probably doesn't really deserve one.
Facebook

Food Hall Blast! / Draft Pub Bevvy - Shinjuku
Had no idea about the existence of this place till someone told me about it last night. Have walked pretty much past it without noticing somehow. Seems like a combination of restaurants and bars in one building. I guess a food court vibe, but with perhaps a bit more atmosphere, or at least I imagine that's the concept. Very little information about the beer part of it, but judging by untappd they seem to have some decent stuff on and some rubbish stuff. Prices, no idea, but it's in a convenient location, very near the station.
Website

Four Hearts - Kofu
Another option for boozing in Kofu along with the ones I’ve already got here. Seems to have a nice selection of Japanese craft along with some other kinds of drinks. Will check it out next time I’m there.
Facebook

J’s Beer - Tsujido
Bottle shop that seems like a place that loves its US beer, with loads of Antenna America stuff. Also seems to have a few taps of US stuff so I suppose you can drink on site if you want. Guess there’s not much point for people who live closer to Yokohama to go here, but it’s a nice option if you’re in the area.
Facebook

Mugiya (King Pelican Beer Stand) - Yokohama/Nagamugi
Four taps of Japanese craft which look interesting. Prices look decent. Have never been to this area so it’s all a bit of a mystery to me.
Facebook

O’val Craft Beer & Bistro Dining - Todakoen
Belgian bar/cafe with an enjoyably punny name. Six taps of beer including some from local brewery Shiki and some imports, one British and one Belgian. Looks nice.
Facebook

Sidewalk Stand - Yutenji 
Coffee shop with five taps of Japanese craft with some interesting stuff there. No online presence which is a bit weird, but I seem to remember the Inokashira Koen place was the same in that respect.
Nothing here

Vector Beer - Toranomon
Another Vector bar. Still haven’t been to any of them actually. Put off by the smoking which I guess would be an issue here too. Have heard that these places are relatively cheap and have some of their own beers, but there’s a lot of competition in this area and I think I might prefer to go to some of those places, but should probably check this out sometime. Ten taps it seems, which also seems perhaps a little underwhelming compared to some of its local rivals.
Website