Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Folkways Brewing

Today, a relatively new brewery out in east Tokyo that was surprisingly popular when we visited shortly after opening on a Saturday afternoon. Folkways Brewing is out in Koto-ku near Kiyosumishirakawa station in a pretty unassuming building next to what looks like a parking area for buses. I know next to nothing about it, so let's just finish the intro here and get on to what you need to know.

- Interior is surprisingly different from the exterior. Look for the keg on a stool next to the road and approach. Inside is modern and wooden with the brewery near the entrance, a counter for eight and a small table for four or five. There is some limited standing room too near the entrance. As I mentioned above, it was surprisingly busy early at the weekend, so bear that in mind.
- Eight taps, four of which were their own and three were US guests (the other tap had nothing on, in case you are questioning my maths). Their own beers were ¥800-¥900 for a tulip style glass of around 350ml and ¥1000-¥1100 for a US pint. The guests were more expensive naturally. ¥1100 and ¥1400 for the same sizes and an imperial stout was served in smaller sizes at ¥900 (200ml) and ¥1200 (300ml). I'd say that the guests, (Oxbow and Fair State), were in my completely biased opinion, a little bit classier than other places regular US guests.
- No cover charge, no smoking, daytime opening at the weekend, but no sign of wifi. There were snack items available and they looked pretty classy. I guess I keep saying classy about this place.

A very interesting visit and quite unexpected. I had no idea it would be so popular so perhaps they have been getting some buzz recently. I'm am very out of touch and enjoying being that way. It was interesting that in addition to the IPA and Hazy IPA they had made, they also had a fruited sour on. I quite enjoyed the beers but my enthusiasm was perhaps slightly tempered by the fact that I had overdone it numerous times in the preceding days so wasn't quite on top form. The prices seem reasonable for a small independent place and I'll be interested to see how they develop. Will definitely go back some time soon.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Folkways
 

Opening Hours:
Wednesday-Friday, 17:00-23:00
Saturday & Sunday, 15:00-22:00
Closed Monday & Tuesday

Location/map:
平野 3-6-3, Koto-ku, Tokyo



Telephone: 
None

Links:
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Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Tullamore

A quick post today to move somewhere off one of my digest posts and onto a fully formed post of its own. There are a lot of places around now that have large taplists of rare beers, but sometimes it's nice to stick to something you know if the surroundings are nice. This place is also quite close to my house which, as I get increasingly lazier, means a place has more chance of getting on here. So, here's what you need to know.

- Irish pub, with the decor you'd expect. Not huge, but not so small with a counter for maybe five and seats for perhaps 30 more at a variety of tables. The atmosphere is pretty nice, relaxed but also lively, if that makes any sense. You order and pay at the counter as you go, but they bring your food or drinks to you.
- For the purpose of this blog, I'll avoid mentioning the macros on tap. (I'm not sure if this means that I should talk about Yona Yona or not. I guess not). Aside from macros they have Shiga Kogen IPA as a permanent tap and one Japanese craft beer guest, which was from Daisen when I visited. Beer is served in three sizes, UK half (284ml), US pint and UK pint. The prices of the craft beer ranged from ¥650-¥750, ¥900-¥1080 and ¥1080-¥1230 for the three sizes. They also have some bottles available which included a few craft beers from different breweries. By no means the biggest selection, in fact, quite small, but to be honest, I'm always good with a pint of Shiga IPA if the atmosphere is nice.
- No cover charge, no smoking and wifi is available. There's some daytime opening at the weekend and it's also open quite late some nights.

Not a lot else to say really. The food was nice and was as you'd expect for Japanese pub food. It was pretty busy on the Friday night we went there and it seems popular with foreigners. It's always good to see a regular pub having some nice beers on instead of (or as well as) the usual rubbish, and the pricing is pretty good I think. Perhaps not one for those visiting with limited time and an appetite to visit lots of Japanese places, but a decent option for those who just want to enjoy a nice pint in relaxed surroundings.


Japanese breweries on tap when I visited: 
Shiga Kogen
Daisen

Opening Hours:
Monday, 17:00-00:00
Tuesday-Friday, 17:00-01:00
Saturday, 15:00-00:00
Sunday, 15:00-23:00


Location/map:
富ヶ谷1-6-10, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

 

Telephone:
03-3481-0216

Links:
Website
Facebook

Monday, 24 February 2020

Craftrock Brewpub & Live


Craftrock Brewpub & Live, the latest place in the Craft Beer Market empire, (at least in Tokyo anyway), is their first foray into making beer instead of just serving it at very reasonable prices. Somewhat amusingly, the prices aren't as cheap here, which seems like it could be counter-intuitive, but perhaps it's actually more expensive to make beer than to buy other people's beer. Not sure how that works further along the chain, but perhaps having such a big premises in a fancy shopping centre in the centre of Tokyo mught be a little more expensive than having a brewery elsewhere in Japan. As for the 'live', well I'm a bit of a music snob, to be honest. And that comment is more than a bit of an understatement, so I can't say I was particularly excited about some of the bands and songs that 'inspired' the beers they make. Nevertheless, it was fun to have album covers displayed alongside the beers on the menu. Surely they should do some kind of beer and music pairing set where they give you some headphones to listen to the album in question as you drink the beer. Certainly would be an interesting gimmick. Anyway, enough of this meandering. Here's what you need to know.


- Big, big, BIG place. Actually, let's say huge. I don't think I've seen such a big craft beer bar in Tokyo. And that's not even including the brewery which I think was tucked around the corner. The main hall area, which I presume also hosts the 'live' has seating for maybe a hundred and a terrace for perhaps 30 more. Given the location, it will come as no surprise to hear that there were a lot of business people in there on the Thursday night I visited. Not sure if that completely fits in with the 'punk rock' kind of feel that I imagine they are aiming for, but I guess those salarymen love a bargain! If you've ever been to a craft beer market, you probably know what to expect, but better multiply it three or four times.
- 12 taps of their own beer on and three guest craft beers, so actually a smaller selection than the other bars. All their beers are generally priced the same, ¥600 for 250ml and ¥900 for 473ml, but with the occasional beer being a little more, perhaps because people will pay a little more for hazy stuff. The guests were ¥80 more for both sizes. As is usual with CBMs, there is a ¥300 cover charge, which is a little harder to work off here given that the beers are a little more expensive than usual, but I guess is still not so much if you're there for a session. There are a variety of popular styles available, although there was only one dark beer and bizarrely when I was there they had three different types of Kolsch on. Still plenty to keep you occupied though. As it's still reasonably new, I'm not sure if there will be a lot of rotation or whether they will keep some beers as regulars. We'll see, I guess. They also do a beer flight of your choice of three 150ml beers for ¥1280, which is quite a bit more yen per ml wise, but is a good option if you're in the mood for some serious ticking.
- Wifi, (it's in a shopping centre after all. Oh, the toilets are outside in the shopping centre in case you were wondering), lots of daytime opening (perhaps without a charge then. I think that's right...), no smoking. The patio/terrace looked pretty nice so will probably be fun in the summer. Live music on occasion with an extra charge I think. You can check the live schedule on their website and either go or avoid depending on your preference.

I quite liked this place. The fact that it's in a shopping centre isn't a huge winner for me, and the size is a bit off-putting. I think not many people realised the power of the CBM chain till this place opened and now we can see that it's a monster company. Clearly this isn't a lovely little atmosphere-filled hideaway or a secret location for those in the know. I'm not sure it would make it on to many people's favourite bar list either, as the scale is just a bit too much. But, it was a fun place to visit and I can see myself coming back here. It's always nice to go somewhere and drink the beer where it's made. And I thought the beers were nice enough, although perhaps nothing knocked my socks off. It's still pretty new though, so I'll give them a chance and will look forward to coming back in a little while to see how they're getting on.


Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Craftrock Brewing
Fujizakura
Daisen

Opening Hours:

Daily, 11:00-23:30

Location/map:
日本橋室町 3-2-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

No map needed really. It's in the COREDO shopping centre, above and connected to Mitsukoshimae station.

Telephone:  
03-5542-1069

Links:
Website
Facebook

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Kitakyushu interlude

Much in the same way that I recently did a Sapporo interlude, where I wrote not much at all about some places that I'd been to but which were way too far away to include under the normal remit of this blog, now I'm doing Kitakyushu. Yep, that's right, not the big city in the same prefecture with the multitude of options, but the smaller one with less options. I probably could do a Fukuoka version with places I've been to in the past, but I'll save that for when I am next there. Kitakyushu was a lot of fun though and I feel that I should shine a little light on the joys it has to offer from a beer point of view. I think I actually enjoyed the bars here more than the ones I've previously been to in Fukuoka, but perhaps this says more about me than anything else. Once again, I'm not saying these are the best places to go. They are merely the ones that I fancied going to the most which were open on the night I was there. One place that we wanted to go to was called Good Beer Tap Tap. Can't vouch for it as we didn't go in, but I feel that it probably deserves a mention, so I'll put it on the map and you can check the link. And you can see all of the places mentioned on the map here.


Beer Cafe Bravo - Kokura
Felt more like a restaurant than a bar and had some nice looking food available but they were fine with us just having a drink at the bar. Japanese and imported beers. Think there were some Belgian ones. Really should have made some notes...
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Craft Beer Charlie Brown - Kokura
17 taps, mix of Japanese stuff in modern styles and US imports. Perhaps some other stuff too but once again, I was too wrecked to make notes and can't remember. Open late, smoking allowed. Seems most places allow it in Kokura. No cover charge if you sit at the counter.
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Life Is Beer! 11 Tap - Kokura
Pretty spacious place. Lively pub feel with lots of nice artwork of musicians on the walls. 11 taps, (I guess), of Japanese craft beer including some local stuff, if I remember rightly. Decent prices. Good pub food too. Enjoyed this place! And supports their local football team! Think it allows smoking but is perhaps sufficiently big that you won't notice so much unless it's right next to you. Wasn't so busy when we went, but it was a Monday night.
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Mojiko Retro Beer Factory - Mojiko
Love this place, but that's mainly because I love their beer. Five taps of mainly classic European style beer at crazily good prices. Nice waterfront location, good pizza and yaki curry. Split over the upstairs and the ground floor (which is open all day). No cover charge, no smoking and they are totally fine with you just drinking. Great stuff! Well worth traveling the short distance to Mojiko from Kokura.
Website


Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Isana Brewing


I seem to have got back on the horse a bit recently with regards to making posts on here. I'm quite pleased about this as there are plenty of places to visit. At the same time, I'm not so pleased for the same reason. Whilst checking back on some old places, I've found that there are a few bars that have closed down. But this is in no way balanced out by new places, which seem to be popping up everywhere all the time. In a crowded marketplace it's becoming more and more difficult to stand out, but the place I'm talking about today actually does have a unique selling point. We'll come on to that later. I took the opportunity of heading out to Vertere for their 4th anniversary party to pop in to Isana on the way home. It's a long way to Vertere, and after smashing back the drinks in a nomihodai, the opportunity to break up the journey legitimately was very welcome as it gave me a great opportunity to use the toilet. Anyway, this is all too much information, and I apologize to anyone who has wandered into this blog post expecting it to be informative who has now discovered that it is informative about all the wrong things. Getting back on track, Isana is a brewpub in Akishima, which is somewhere I wasn't really aware of till I went here. There seems to be quite a few brewpubs along the Chuo line now which is always a welcome thing. Maybe one day in about 20 years time I will manage to get to all of them. In the meantime, here's what you need to know about Isana.

- Small place with seating for ten at tables and about five at the counter. The brewery is visible through a window, but I'm not sure if they are ever brewing at the same time as they are open. Nice, comfortable feel to the place with helpful and friendly staff. The food looked good, although I have to admit I only tried the chips, which were very nice as far as I can remember. It is also pleasantly close to the station, being less than a five minute walk.
- 12 taps of beer, most of which were their own. And here comes that unique selling point, four of these taps are nitro! I don't have any strong feelings either way about nitro, so I'll leave it to others who do to tell you if that's a good or bad thing. One thing's for sure though, it's definitely an original thing! Their beers were in a variety of styles, some of which were also pretty original (a nitro sake weizen bock!) and from some unusual guest breweries. Some beers appear on both nitro and regular keg so that could give people an opportunity to decide what they think about nitro with a side by side tasting. Beers are served in three sizes, S, M and L. We stuck with the S, so I can't really tell you what the other sizes were, but given that the S was probably around 250ml, I'd guess that the L is US pint and the M around 350ml. This is all guessing though. The pricing is done by letter, A-D, with the letter being next to the beer name on the menu and there being a useful little table at the bottom explaining things. I won't bore you with all the figures, but will tell you that the sizes, from S through M to L range from ¥490-¥750, ¥690-¥1150 and ¥960-¥1600 respectively. Tax is added afterwards.
- There was wifi, no cover charge, no smoking and daytime opening, (although in the week they close mid afternoon. Guess this suggests that it's a nice place to have lunch). I should also mention that they have quite a lot of mentions of them being a roastery on their menu, so I guess they have a coffee thing going on too. Let's be honest, I haven't done a great job on the details on this one, have I? Sorry.

So, for once, a unique place! If I hadn't got so blasted at the Vertere event I probably would have had a much more informed opinion of this place. It was certainly different to see somewhere with nitro beers (that weren't Guinness). It was buzzing along almost at capacity on the Sunday afternoon we were there, so perhaps if you're visiting from some distance it might be a good idea to book. Perhaps this was just because the sun was out and people wanted to booze it up though. My banging hangover today prevents me from having any reasoned opinion on the nitro thing, but I can safely say that the originality in the serving style and some of the beer styles meant that I was more than pleasantly surprised by this place. I've got a few more places to check out in this general area some time and I think I'd quite like to come back to Isana again, which recently is pretty high praise in this crowded marketplace! Guess I should get one of those JR passes and get ticking!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:   
Isana
Fujiyama Hunters
Akari

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday, 11:30-14:30, 17:00-22:00
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:30-22:00

Location/map:
昭和町 2-7-15Akishima-shi, Tokyo



Telephone: 
050-5327-9884

Links:
Website
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Twitter