Friday, 19 May 2023

New inclusion and posting criteria

This is a quick post to go some way towards explaining my reasons for including or excluding places on here. This post should hopefully remain at the top so if it's posts about bars you're after, scroll down. Going forward, the following will get full write ups as soon as I get round to visiting them:

- Breweries
- Bars and beer shops that are either great, good, ok or in some way unique or interesting.

Bars that are not so exciting or that I have a problem with (and I’m happy to acknowledge that the problem is mine), will probably feature on one of the digest posts. Usually these are to collect places that I haven’t visited yet, but now I’ll also put places I’ve been to that aren’t very good on there too. On the map, unvisited places will be marked with a question mark so you take your chances by going to one of these. All visited places will now have the appropriate coloured pin and be linked to the appropriate post, so if you see a pin and it goes to a digest post, it’s not really a recommendation. I'd always encourage you, if you're finding places on here through the map to actually check out the post linked to the pin in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Favourites will still be marked with a star and also feature in the top group of places in the map notes. Inevitably, there are some places that probably aren’t worthy of a full post in here that already have full posts. I’m not going to remove these posts and put them on the digest post as I can’t be bothered to! The content of the post should give you an idea anyway. Hope all this helps!

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Gahaha Beer


Wanting to broaden my horizons a little, I have set myself a task for 2021. I won’t reveal the details yet as I don’t want to have public evidence of it for when I mess it up or give up. But this task led me indirectly to visit Gahaha. Gahaha had been on my list of places to go, but let’s be honest, that can be said about maybe 40 other places at the moment and that was after a significant purge when I ruled out a load of places that looked like they had almost nothing to distinguish them from other bars. However my rule is that I’ll always at least intend to visit a brewery before I rule it out, as without the breweries we wouldn’t have any beer and therefore wouldn’t have any bars. This is all a long winded way of saying that I went to Gahaha out in Toyocho and this is what it was like:

- Very interesting place! The brewery and bar is in a small shopping complex situated in the middle of a couple of big public housing blocks. A very unusual location, but one that was quite interesting! Quite a small bar with a counter for four and tables for maybe around 15. There were also a couple of tables outside too. The brewery can be seen through the window next to the bar and it looks very small! Definitely felt like a place that has regular locals visiting it often. Nice atmosphere!

- Eight taps of their own beer and a couple of imperial stout guest taps from West Coast when we visited. Their own beers were pretty cheap, coming in around ¥850 a pint on average. The guests were naturally more expensive, which is not surprising given that they were imperial stouts. Prices ranged from ¥500-¥850 for a half and ¥650-¥1400 for a pint with the guests obviously at the higher end. They had two options for beer flights too. Choose which beers you want and you can get 3 x 200ml for ¥1350. They also did an imperial stout flight with the two guests included. The sizes were the same I think and the price was around ¥2000. It was a really nice idea to have the stout flight, giving the drinker the opportunity to compare the brewery’s own imperial stout with the two latest West Coast imperial stouts. Quite brave too considering the hype behind West Coast! They also had some bottles of their own beer to take away. Didn't see the prices. Sorry!

- Food was standard izakaya kind of fare and the few dishes we tried were pretty nice. They also served quite a few sakes. The place was no smoking, they had wifi and there was no cover charge. And they have a lot of daytime opening! Perfect!

If you live in this area this place must be a real godsend. It was a really fun place to visit and if I were in the area I’d definitely go back again. Given the size of the brewery, this is probably the only place you’ll be able to try their beers. This might account for the fact that even though it has been open for a few years, it had only recently come onto my radar. I know, I’m out of touch, but things have kind of exploded a bit in the last few years. The fact that it is on a housing estate in Toyocho probably means that not many people will really be passing by, but I do quite fancy sitting on the ‘terrace’ when it gets a bit warmer and enjoying a few beers sometime in what must be a unique setting amongst Japanese breweries.

 

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Gahaha
West Coast

Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00-22:00
Sunday, 11:00-19:45
Closed Monday

Location/map:
南砂 2-3 南砂住宅商店街, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Telephone:
03-6659-7043

Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Friday, 26 February 2021

Tegamisha Brewery


Post by Jeff

The other night, my daughter and I jokingly asked the respective Siris living inside our iPhones to talk to each other. After a few esoteric attempts at artificial intelligence communication, my phone magically recommended that I check out Tegamisha Brewery. Gave me Google Map directions and all. 


This spot opened last June 3rd and is located right in my neighborhood. How could I have missed it? Well, I guess there was that whole pandemic thingy was kicking in around then. Argh. So be it. 


With a little bit of prodding by Siri, I checked it out the very next day. The brewery is a project of the Tegashima Collective (a group of designers and editors producing cafes, printed materials, interior goods shops, events, and more) and the interior design and overall vibe reflect its organic-yet-modern approach. Was additionally pleased to find 13 taps of well-curated beer in this comfy-but-cool environment. 


Here’s what you need to know: 


- 13 taps, all from Japanese breweries. Beer is served in original Tegashima glassware coming in two sizes: Small (¥500 ~ ¥560) and Large (¥750 ~ ¥840). Seems really cheap until you realize that small is really small and large is really medium. Therein, the price range is actually reasonable and average. They sell growlers, do takeout in plastic bottles (for an additional ¥100), and are happy to fill up whatever container you bring.
- A humble (but thorough enough) menu offers snacks (fries, sausage, pickles) and a meal (curry) and desserts (cakes). Soft drinks are available.
- The design-arm of Tegashima came ready! Logo-branded T-shirts, hats, keychains, glassware, postcards, and more are on sale on a series of tables that call to mind a merch-table at a gig.
- The wooden bar offers seating for four or five, with an additional line of counter seating for another four or so. A handful of small tables are scattered here and there, both inside the space and in front just off the sidewalk. Overall, there’s space for around 20.
- Located on Shinagawa-dori, just 4 and 7 minutes, respectively, from Nishi-Chofu and Chofu stations.

 



Important note: 

It’s a brewery-by-name but heads up, they haven’t started mashing the grains and steeping the hops just yet. I checked in with the man behind the bar and learned that brew plans are still brewing (sorry), a delay created by the bad-timing of the Coronavirus. I didn’t see any tanks but was promised everything needed to brew is on the other side of the sidewall. We’ll have to actually try the beer first to be sure, but the choices of beers currently on tap indicated this place will be headed in the right direction. 


And until the day, the taps are being well looked after by a great selection of Japanese beer. That, along with the comfy digs, makes this location worth visiting for sure. 


Breweries (all Japanese) on tap when I visited: 

Izumi

Kyoto

Vertere

Kanpai!

Minoh

Yonezawa Jacks

Fujizakura

Kure


Opening Hours: 

Friday - Sunday: 14:00 - 20:00 (last order 19:00)

(Probably COVID opening hours, best to check the website calendar for up to date info)


Location/Map: 

下石原2-6-14 ラ·メゾン1階, Chofu-shi, Tokyo

 

Telephone: 
042-444-0660

Links:
Facebook (for the Tegamisha collective)

Website

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Takekuma


Today, a quick post on a shop that I have walked past hundreds of times and visited only a few times. Takekuma is an off licence/booze shop a little way up Bremen street from Motosumiyoshi station. I used to pop in to get an emergency Orval from time to time and in those days it had a small selection of Belgian beers and a few US imports. I went in today on the off chance hoping to pick up a TDM can and found it has been transformed into a Japanese craft beer heaven. Well maybe I’m overdoing it a bit, but it’s now definitely the best place in the area to pick up Japanese craft. And therefore now I feel like it needs a full entry on here. Here’s what you need to know:

- It’s a booze shop so I’m going to skip all the usual parts about decor and the like. Aside from the beer which I’ll talk about in a minute they have the usual kind of booze you’d expect to find in a booze shop in Japan.

- Three fridges of Japanese craft with some nice selections, varying from local stuff to more far flung breweries, and from bigger names to less well known ones. Usual kind of prices you’d expect for a beer shop. Tax is added at the till though so beware.

- Also they have two taps of ‘craft’ under the Tap Marche system. If you’re not aware of what that is, it’s a dispensing and beer supply system from Spring Valley (Kirin) which allows a lot of places to have ‘craft’ beer on tap that wouldn't normally be able to have it. I am not going to totally endorse this system as from taps at places I’ve seen it looks like there’s a requirement for you to have at least one Spring Valley beer on tap so it’s not really craft. But they do often have some genuine craft beer on the other tap(s). In this shop, the beer is sold for take away.


It was a genuine nice surprise to see how much they have expanded their beer selection here. Sadly they didn’t have the TDM I’d gone in for, but I got a Yorocco instead which is a more than adequate replacement! I spend quite a bit of time in this general area and I’d say that there aren’t that many places to actually buy good craft beer to drink at home so this place expanding its selection is a good thing. I know there’s a new place in Musashi Kosugi but I haven’t made it there yet. Perhaps this isn’t somewhere you’d travel miles to visit but I’d be surprised if you could find as good a selection of Japanese craft for quite a few miles in any direction so a very welcome addition to the area! It seems like they have another branch in Kawasaki but as I haven't been there, this one will do for now!

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
Tap Marche, but bottles and cans from

Yorocco
Y Market
Minoh
Ise Kadoya
West Coast
Uchu
Shiga
Baeren     and more

Opening Hours:
Monday, Tuesday & Friday, 13:00-19:30
Saturday, Sunday & holidays 11:00-19:00


Location/Map:
木月3-10-17, Nakahara-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken


Telephone: 
03-6878-0324  

Links:
Facebook

Website

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Drink Up!! Craft Beer Shop

 


It’s weird that at one of the worst possible times to visit new places I suddenly seem to have found an appetite for doing so. Once again the state of emergency has naturally influenced the experience I was able to have here, but I’ll do my best to give a decent summing up of this new beer shop. Drink up is another place with a unique selling point and it’s quite a classic Japanese thing too. Which slightly contrasts with the fact that this place specialises in imported beers. Anyway, I’ll just get on with the post.

- Entering from the street you could be excused for thinking that this place was a dry cleaning shop or something like that. Much of the space is taken up by a back room behind the counter leaving a small sliver at the front with a vending machine where the business happens. The fact that the back room is a fridge might hint that we’re not cleaning clothes here though.

- Beer is served direct from the vending machine. Yes, there’s that unique Japanese selling point. Unlike the normal machines you find on the street, this one is packed full of craft beer which seemed to be mainly imported from Canada. I believe they are doing the importing themselves. This means you have around 30 selections to choose from. Pay as you would at a normal vending machine and press the button and you get your beer rapidly delivered to the tray at the bottom of the machine. Not sure how good this is if you are planning to drink it straight away though. They also had some 'maple water' (think that was what it was called), some gift sets and some merchandise.

- Given that your basically buying from a vending machine it will come as no surprise to hear that there is no cover charge. Given that it is a beer shop it will come as no surprise that they have some daytime opening. Given that this is a post on Tokyo Beer Drinker it will come as no surprise that it is lacking in useful detail...

I believe that Drink Up will allow on site drinking when we are not under a state of emergency. Space is quite limited and there’s no seating though so I expect that it’s probably not somewhere you’ll spend hours but it's definitely a fun stop. The fact that they seem to have so much space at the back of the shop suggests that there might be something in the works. Maybe some taps. Just speculating here though. And here is the usual Covid caveat that says that because these are weird times, the opening hours and other details on here might not be accurate when you visit so best to check their Facebook or Instagram. It's a little walk north from the other beer places in Koenji, but it's only 10 minutes from the station so when times are better you could easily visit during a Koenji crawl!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
None

Opening Hours:
Daily, 15:00-20:00

(But these hours were checked during the state of emergency so better check yourself before going)


Location/map:
3-40 高円寺北, Suginami-ku, Tokyo


Telephone:
03-6304-1515

Links:
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Citraba

I'm not sure this really counts as a new blog post as large portions of it have been lifted directly from the old blog post on this bar's previous incarnation, Craft Beer Market Koenji (you can check that post here if you want and if you can read the text through the strikethrough effect). To be honest though, not a lot has changed. These bullet points might read slightly weirdly as they've been cut and pasted to a certain extent but hopefully what you need to know is all here.

- Exactly the same layout as the previous CBM. Seating at a couple of counters for around 15 and quite a few small tables in the back, probably room for about 20-30 at these. There is also a small standing area, which I think seems to work as a waiting area for a table if you turn up without a reservation.

- In the CBM days there were 30 taps and 2 hand-pumps. When I visited there were less (12) but these are state of emergency times and I can't imagine they have removed taps. Maybe they just don't use all of them anymore. I've scrolled back on Facebook looking at taplists and it looks like in non-emergency times they had about 20 taps on. Prices are ¥580 for glass, and ¥980 for a pint so the prices are a little more than CBM but that's no surprise. Still good value though. They have higher priced fancy beers in various sizes at various prices. Check their Facebook posts for beer lists and prices if you fancy. Beers were split maybe 50/50 between imported stuff and Japanese craft. Bit too many hazy beers for my liking but I realise I am on the other side of that argument to a lot of the beer drinking world so won't labour that point. Oh, they had a beer flight option too. 3 x 150ml for ¥1100. Presumably not of the pricier beers.

- ¥300 cover charge like CBM had. No smoking and some daytime opening. Didn't check wifi. Sorry!

Probably should mention here that this place is now more focused on lemon sours than beers. These are served in absolutely massive glasses that look like vases with handles. Some of the other sours on offer looked pretty tempting but we ran out of time and alcohol tolerance. But anyway, I'm sure the Tokyo Sour Drinker blog will have dealt with that all in detail. Basically, it still feels like a Craft Beer Market but it's a little more expensive and there are lots of sours. There is however some absurdly good value on the menu if you look for it.


Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Ise Kadoya
Black Tide
Izu No Kuni
Coedo
Nomcraft
Shiga Kogen

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 17:00-23:30

Saturday, Sunday & Holidays, 12:00-23:30

Possibly... but different right now in the state or emergency. Check their Facebook I guess.

Location/map:
2-22-6 高円寺北, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Directions:
From Koenji JR station, leave via the north exit, and cross the square. Head north up the road in the north-west corner of the square. Carry on up this road till the end and Craft Beer Market will be right in front of you.



Telephone:
03-6383-0301

Links:
Website
Facebook page
Instagram
Twitter

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Threefeet Tokyo


After the last post about Beer Cellar Sapporo Harajuku, a beer shop with drinking on site available we move on to Threefeet Tokyo, a beer shop with a bit less on site drinking available. If I had to sum up the differences succinctly I'd say that Threefeet has more fridges and less seats. There is also a significant difference in focus as Threefeet deals with Japanese beers only. Anyway, let's not dilly dally and just get on with this post.

- Doesn't particularly feel like a beer shop. Tucked away on a fairly quiet street in Harajuku (look for the sign that says 'Beer Shop'), I wonder if this used to be a clothing shop like many of its neighbours. One wall of the shop is taken up with four or five fridges and there is a small table and a sofa by the entrance. I didn't think this was a drink on site place but was asked whether I wanted to drink there when I paid so I guess it is. Probably this is only for a limited number of people though as there's not a great deal of space or seating.

- Lots of bottles and cans from breweries all over Japan. Quite a lot of Far Yeast related stuff if you're into them. If you're not, don't let that put you off as there are plenty of others too. I didn't make a note of breweries I'm afraid, but there were some of the bigger Japanese names plus some that I had never heard of before. If you want an idea of stock and prices you should check their website as they offer a delivery service if you can't be bothered to visit yourself. Given that the focus is more on retail than drinking on site it come as no surprise to find that they don't have any taps.

Sorry, even less detail about this place than in the previous post. I made a big statement about this blog being BACK! but I'd say that it's back but not in much detail and still as slapdash as before. As stated above, the feel of this place is a lot more retail oriented, so probably one for shopping rather than drinking. It was nice to see some beers from breweries that I had never seen around before so that was a nice thing. So, another bottle shop, which is always a great thing, and one in a fancy area, which is unusual!

Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 16:30-21:00
Saturday & Sunday 12:00-20:30

Location/Map:
神宮前4-25-3 メゾン原宿101, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Telephone: 
03-6878-0324  

Links:
Facebook

Website

Instagram