Sunday, December 10, 2017

WEEK 120--SHINAGAWA- MEJIRO- SHIMOKITAZAWA

This is quite a lazy piece, as basically i was lazying around during that week in Tokyo--not really going out of the way to look for new places for craft--not really eager to explore more places or drink a whole lot--just lazying around, go slow with the mood sort of beer trip.
Shinagawa
this is always the first stop after arriving at Haneda Airport--get out of the immigration check point, head straight down for the train to Shinagawa, check in to hotel.
Basically the trips to Tokyo these past few years has always been the same starting point, at Shinagawa--it's my resting point, it's breakfast and probably a meal or two place, it's where all journey to other stations or other places starts, nothing more nothing less.
Hence Shinagawa has never been a place where i look out for craft places as the focus is always on other areas.
Well--while having breakfast at the station's spanking new dining area run by Isetan--there it was--a beer stand of sort by Yokohama based Antenna America--as you can see, it's basically a super market food stall version--can't compare or expect the scale/ selections available at Yokohama shop/bar but still good for drinkers who happened to be around the station and need a few drinks, especially newbies.
品川站
到达羽田机场后即刻搭机场快铁到品川站附近酒店是每次到东京的第一个指定动作,虽然每次都习惯性的选择住这一区,因为脑中装满了事先安排好的寻找啤酒卖点路线图,反而对这区有什么craft酒吧之类的并不了解。
这是一个有新干线机场快铁东京外围社区快车服务的主要车站之一,车站虽繁忙却没有新宿涉谷东京站那么多不同出口交错纵横得让人觉得很可能会迷路,相比之下,品川站使用起来相应的会比较新人友善。
这次在品川车站发现了一个很方便的喝酒点,就开在全新概念的伊势丹超市餐饮区,由美国啤酒进口商Antenna America 开设,看起来像个试点摊档,有好几个啤酒泵卖自家进口啤酒,也有摆在超市那种开放式冰柜的瓶子或罐装选择,对不想搭车下去横滨本店的喝酒人来说是个还可以的选择,当然,因为是简易版就不能期望在这里看到像在本店那样好几个大冰柜的更多不同选择。
而如果你刚好是喜欢喝啤酒也喜欢手工咖啡的话,就在同一层,对面两相望处开了人气蛮高的蓝瓶子咖啡吧。
Mejiro
If you travel to this station and not for any other reasons--there can only be ONE reason why you even bother to make that trip--for a bottle shop called Tanakaya.
Strictly speaking, Tanakaya is not a shop specialized in craft beer, they sell whisky and other style of spirits, in fact more of those than beer bottles it would seem--but most geeks who have been to Tokyo would have at least visited once--if you a lambic lover than you would have visited more than once.
Yes, one of the main reasons why geeks would visit this bottle shop is that they do have lambic collections most of the time--from Cantillon-3fonteinen-Tilquin-Boon-Bzart there's always something you can find if you are looking for some lambic bottles to take home.
For the uninitiated--don't expect to drink in--it's basically a take away only shop--unless you got invited to drink in which very rarely happen.
目白站
这站可说是很多啤迷都会来至少一次的,就开在车站很近的田中屋瓶子店是啤迷都知道的点。
严格来说,田中屋并不是啤酒专卖店,说起来,店内的展示柜子卖其他酒类如日本威士忌等其他选择的远比啤酒冰柜内的数量多。不过,因为这里长期可买到价格合理,包括三大品牌Cantillon,  3Fonteinen, Tilquin等比利时天然发酵果酸啤酒, 加上好些其他不错的欧美瓶子选择(包括一些不定时出现又很快消失的佳酿瓶子),让田中屋成为啤迷到东京总要来一探究竟的点。
这是家基本不能在店内即刻买即开瓶子喝的店,一般情况下只能打包带走,也不是每次来都一定会有惊喜发现,不过,可以肯定的是,如果你住的城市完全没有比利时天然发酵果酸啤酒(Lambic 供应,来这里总会有至少几支是让你想带走的。
Shimokitazawa
There's a few craft places around this area--but i went there on a rainy afternoon not for craft bar/bottle shop crawl--went there because our friend Mr.Hamilton of Mikkeller Tokyo was running an event with some friends at a semi open space under the bridge not far from the station.
It was basically a beer party with some food and coffee in the mix, local breweries that joined in that day includes AJB brewing, Barbaric Works, Yorocco, Ushitora...and obviously the list by Mikkeller Tokyo.
The event was quite cozy--selection was quite good--and newly met people are friendly/willing to talk/share a little beer.
It was worth the walk in the rain holding an umbrella.
下北泽站
东京craft点很多,下北泽当然也有,比如在车站附近就有卖进口和日本酿坊啤酒的瓶子店/酒吧。这次下雨天中午就撑伞去下北泽不是为了探寻酒吧或瓶子店,而是因为当天有<米吧和朋友们>在车站不远处桥底下一个半露天活动空间举办的啤酒派对。
这活动可说是之前东京米吧好长一段时间流动式经营累计下来的因缘,当天除了米吧自身相关品牌和其他国外友好品牌进口啤酒,也包括友好日本品牌比如长野县AJB, 神奈川县Barbaric Work,逗子市Yorocco 等友好酿坊。
这是个结合啤酒,咖啡,食物的活动,不想只是一直喝酒的人可以有其他选择,不过,既是米吧活动,啤酒选择当然还是最关键重点,如果以亚洲啤酒活动选酒水平来说,这个比较随性的小型活动酒单水准相当不错,比如有来自哥本哈根酿吧WARPIGS与美国顶级蜜酒酿坊合作的半蜜酒半啤酒BRAGGOT WITH SLOEBERRIES, 为今年哥本哈根啤酒庆典特酿的MBCC柚子啤酒,啤迷系列的香草枫糖版本,三倍蓝莓酸啤酒, 日本酿坊YOROCCO的限量版黑鸟PORTERAJB的啤酒花版本农场风格低度啤酒等等。 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

WEEK 119--- Little Beer Walk in SHIBUYA

It's been mostly raining, plus a typhoon passing by the week i was in Tokyo, the weather was obviously less than ideal for moving about but it's Tokyo, there's no way rainy days would stop one from  going out.
This trip is more of a visiting friend's places/familiar places trip rather than trying to venture out to new/never been places, partly because it's been a little while since i last came, the other is perhaps rainy days do discourage a little the urge to explore unfamiliar places while holding an umbrella.
涉谷站前人行道是世界上最常被人拍或上传的街道,是每次来东京一定会走几回的闹区,这里有想去的专卖吧,离住的地方也不远,非常方便,虽然到的那星期几乎天天下雨,还是没阻止在涉谷走走看看喝喝兴致。
作为(个人觉得)亚洲craft选择最多的城市,东京周遭不缺专卖吧和瓶子店,如果以JR山手线为中心点,绝大多数车站附近都有能喝到买到craft的店,涉谷更有不少选择,个人来说,这次主要因为东京<米吧>和每次来总会去的Craftheads 而行走涉谷。
This piece is about a few places in Shibuya, basically all very close, within walking distance from the station's Hachiko exit direction. For those who are not familiar with Tokyo craft beer scene, there's quite a lot of craft beer bars/bottle shops that's reachable just using the "center circle line" of JR YAMANOTE LINE, of which Shibuya station is one of the key stations along the line, and one station/area frequented every time when in town.
Mikkeller Tokyo
the first stop in Tokyo for first beer started with Mikkeller Tokyo, i have been to the old bar before but have yet to visit this "reborn" version until now.
if you are not aware, Mikkeller Tokyo did went through a turbulence of sorts after opening about 2 years ago at another area of Shibuya also not far off from the station, that old version was a joint venture with a coffee/cocktail operator originating from Scandinavia, after opening for less than a year( if memory don't play tricks), the partnership broken off unexpectedly in somewhat dramatic circumstances, with that, for quite sometime, Mikkeller  Tokyo was operating gypsy style, moving from one place to another, sometimes in an open area of a market place, sometimes at friendly parties places, sometimes at festivals and so on so forth, it was quite a trying time but the Tokyo team did the hard work of carrying the flags flying until this new bar finally opened. 
东京“米吧”
在亚洲,米吧目前有4个据点,曼谷,首尔,新加坡,东京。
东京米吧可说出师不利,现在位于涉谷道玄坂的酒吧其实是再生版,大约两年前开在涉谷另一个地点的旧吧因为跟经营咖啡鸡尾酒吧的北欧合伙人出现严重分歧,只能草草结业。
没有了据点,东京米吧有好长一段时间以流动摊子或借用别人店面方式继续经营存在感,
那样子过了一年左右,新酒吧在旧址另一端一栋旧建筑,这次开在道玄坂的米吧选在一条趣味性的横巷里,从涉谷车站八忠犬方向走来大概1015分钟,巷内有着不少风月店,时钟酒店,小餐馆,还有神社,去的那晚跟恰好人在东京的曼谷米吧<楼上餐厅>灵魂人物主厨Dan和打理前场营运的另一半Fay约了见面,他和她到了之后说,一路走着感觉好奇怪,脑中疑问浮现,会开在这样氛围的一个地方吗?,其实,风月红灯气息之外,新米吧就开在横巷拐弯处神社斜对面,大家各适其所,就算夜里独自一人走在这里也没什么好担心。
as the building was covered in plastic with refurbishment work going on --here's a pic by Tokyo Beer Drinkerclick here

The new bar is located at Dogenzaka area of Shibuya, a short walk from the station, this is a relatively interesting area where one can see love hotels/adults services shops/small restaurants line along side each others, Mikkeller Tokyo is located right next to a shrine by the turn of corner, walking here at night for the first time makes it's that much more interesting. That evening i was meeting up with the heart and souls of beer pairing casual fine dining place--Upstairs Mikkeller Bangkok click for more, chef Dan & Fay who happened to be in town here at Mikkeller Tokyo, and the "joke" was when finding their way in from the main road, Fay was asking Dan about the validity of the new bar being housed in such an area, " is this the correct area? would Mikkeller Bar locate in such an area?"...:)
理论上,米吧可说是连锁店模式,但除了店面设计比如用色比如啤酒泵手把比如使用木材有些统一性之外,亚洲不同城市米吧都各有特质,从酒吧地点到选酒到餐点都大不相同,比如东京米吧主理人Hamilton就开玩笑的投诉一些去过曼谷米吧的都问我,花园呢?这里怎么没有花园?”
东京米吧当然没有曼谷那样开在旧式洋楼有自己花园,作为“再生版”,东京米吧给人印象是已经比旧吧更让人感觉到米吧特点,包括不同友好酿坊选择,到新吧第一晚碰上米吧和Cantillon 日本进口商合作搞小型品酒会,共7款不同风味酸啤酒,再看酒吧当天选酒,抛开现址街坊趣味不说,感觉已比旧吧良好。
The "reborn"version of the new bar is certainly located in a more interesting area compared to the old one, as for the bar itself, it is housed in an old building, bar and taps are visible to anyone who walk pass the alley way, there's an upstairs sitting area too, but to any geeks, the one most important area would have to be the brew selections. That evening the bar was having a 7 variants Cantillon tasting event, working hand in hand with the importer for Japan market for this famous Belgium gift of gods, Lambic, while Hamilton was joking when chatting with Dan & Fay about " those who been to Mikkeller Bangkok would ask me--where's the GARDEN?", there's obviously no gardens here in the Tokyo version of this Copenhagen bar, but from what was on the tap list that evening, plus the tasting event, add that with the vibes of this area, it's certainly a better version from that troubled old one. 

Craftheads Shibuya
This is a bar to go if you are into American beers and bourbon, at the same time this is also a bar where it is perceived as pricey by some---but if you are always stuck in Asia, and have no access to some American beers(think Three Floyds Dark Lord, Adam/Fred from Hair of the Dog--especially few years ago), then this place is quite a bar to visit.
This is a place run by long time resident originally from the states Michael san(or better known as Koji san), what makes this bar unique is that long before "grey imports" of all sorts started flowing into Asia which is the common scenario now ( especially in China), this place would have a few never seen else where in Asia bottles available for in bar consumption--for examples FFF Dark Lord which is still very hard to find bottles nowadays was already available at Craftheads years ago--and not just say the current year bottles but a few different years bottles to choose from! and while price is a subjective matter--at least when comparing to a certain bar in Amsterdam which also serves some Dark Lord bottles selection, considering the rare is gold perception, the prices in Tokyo is very reasonable indeed. 
已把自己当日本人的美国人开的店,主打自家进口美国啤酒和美国波本烈酒,综合这几年去这家店得到印象是,有些人觉得在美国只卖某个价位的啤酒到了这里要贵许多,不过,对长期住在亚洲的一些啤迷来说,到东京如果没来这家看看酒单喝喝等于走宝。

如果你对这家完全没概念,或许这样说,特别之处是在"水货"概念还不像现在这么流行时候就已经全亚洲独家少量进口盛名难寻瓶子,比如至今在亚洲还是难寻的Three Floyds黑魔王,几年前去的时候,酒单上不是只有一个年份,而是好几款不同年份黑魔王供选择,而且价钱如果跟荷兰某家也有少量黑魔王供应酒吧相比的话,简直是合理得很。
这次去,酒单上明显少了很多选择,比较吸引的是JESTER KING瓶子选择。不过,记得有一次见到老板时候他说过,一般是十一月下旬左右会有新酒进来,或许今年底有去的朋友可以看看是不是有很多不同盛名酿坊瓶子选择。
This trip i only went once for a short while, browsing though the bottle list, there's not much selections available as of that time, with perhaps Hair of the Dog and Jester King bottles still catching some attentions--but i did remember once talking to the owner Koji san and he did mentioned about mostly bottles arriving mid or later part of Nov or beyond, so perhaps just like going to any craft beer places--sometimes it's all about timing.
Beer Stand Hiranoya
This is a place i have never been, suggested and led to the place by beer buddy in Tokyo, Neil,  This is basically a small bottle shop, with a few taps, opening bottles to drink in is very much welcome. Selection wise this is a Belgium styles focus shop, with some other styles in the mix, 
for examples there was this Owa Ume Lambic created and brewed in Belgium by Japanese brewer, as well a seemingly current "hot brew" of a Japanese version of New England style IPA. There's some beer bites too if you are in the mood, though it's relatively small, the vibes inside this bottle shop is cozy and friendly, worth a visit if you are into mainly Belgium brews.
平野屋酒店
之前没来过,应<东京啤酒人>部落客朋友Neil 建议在这里喝喝聊聊就来了。这是间开在米吧隔几条街附近瓶子店,也可在店内喝,店面不大,几个冰柜内主要是比利时啤酒,加些日本酿坊啤酒选择,选酒和店内氛围都不错,是值得一探的小店。

Sunday, November 12, 2017

WEEK 118--Beer.Vegan.Zhusi

I have heard of Yorocco since few years back but never had the chance to sample any since their supply hardly go out of Zhusi--a quiet small town 1 hour by train from Tokyo--for those who noticed or were at this year's MBCC( or CBC as it was known before)--Yorocco was the only Japanese craft brew invited for that mother of all craft event in Copenhagen.
来之前,几年前已听闻过有一家小酿坊叫Yorocco,  酿品水准很不错,不过因为量少,很难在东京找到,要喝到这家酿坊啤酒最佳方式只能是到距离逗子市JR站不远处,一星期只开两三天,全日本唯一专属品饮室去。
有趣的是,品饮室藏身于一间感觉很居家邻里,叫Beach Muffin的素食小店内,单从门面外观看不出酒吧痕迹,比较像隔壁老王寻常店家作为Yorocco 专属品饮室(只有5个啤酒泵,不卖任何其他酿坊啤酒,也不卖瓶子),这里感觉一点都不像餐厅酒吧,而是很舒适惬意的家居客厅,就像去到朋友家那样。
This recent trip to Tokyo was basically a rainy week, it was almost raining everyday, so the thought of going out to a Vegan restaurant in Zhusi for a few Yorocco became a little uncertain( especially since i have had a few Yorocco brew already in Tokyo few days before), but thanks to the spur of moment thought of messaging Beach Muffin, as well the "you should go" opinion from Hamilton & Neil, i went.
Prior to making the trip from Shinagawa station while having breakfast at blue bottle cafe---i checked Yorocco webpage which list out the days when the taproom at Beach Muffin is open for the month and it kinda indicated it's not open on that Friday--so i thought perhaps checking with Beach Muffin would be the best option though their FB says "typically reply within 1 day"-- to my surprise the response was swift, the taproom is open, and they were kind to point me the direction of how to get there after getting out of Zhusi JR station.( it was only after meeting and chatting with the owner Larry that i realized the visit was meant to be---because that moment when i message to ask via FB--his wife was checking on something on the hand phone--otherwise no one will response until much much later or the next day)
*it's south exit from Zhusi JR station--go out to bus stop no.3--take bus no.12(to hayama)--alight at 3rd stop(rokudaigozenmai)--beach muffin is just located right next to the road side bus stop. 
逗子市距离东京约一小时,因为不确定品饮室是不是有开,尝试通过脸书联系询问,虽然官网记录显示通常要一天时间回复,意外的很快就得到回答,还贴心告知出车站后要在哪一个巴士站搭几号班车哪里下车。(后来见到店主Larry 时才知道,女主人刚好在用手机,所以才会有那么快回应的事情发生)。
到之前对品饮室或素食小店长什么样子没什么概念,踏进店里的那刻感觉像是到了朋友家,就那样,原本想说或许呆个两小时左右就可以去隔一站的镰仓扮一下游客,结果中午到之后就没动过,偶尔跟老板LARRY聊聊天,怡然自得的消磨时光享受扮在地人的悠闲,傍晚要离开前不久还有点奇遇式的跟来店里送刚从外地采摘苹果的低调主创酿酒师AKIO见面聊了下,绝对是整个东京行最惬意的一个下午。
While it was gloomy in Tokyo, it was not raining but sunny at Zhusi station---looking at Beach Muffin from the outside, and even when inside, even if you notice the unassuming small bar counter with a few tap handles behind the dining area---it does not feel like a taproom at all--certainly don't feel like the only taproom in whole of Japan for Yorocco--it felt more like a friend's house, someone's dining room, someone's lounge, someone's study or lazying area--just felt right at home.
The initial thought was perhaps come in for lunch and a few beers, then proceed to playing tourist at next station Kamakura( which is more famous as a tourists spot)--well, it never happened--coz i stayed the whole afternoon at Beach Muffin and it felt like one of the best afternoons that week in Tokyo.
<海滩松饼>是长居日本的美国大叔Larry和日本太太开的,素食餐点之外也卖些新鲜蔬果干果零食松饼蛋糕之类的,那天店里没什么人,偶尔有几个当地人来买些糕点带走,如果不是入门客厅左边稍上的假楼那层小吧台有5个啤酒泵加小黑板写着Yorocco当天酒单,根本看不出跟品饮室的关联。                                                                      
一间居家素食小店为什么会是全日本唯一的Yorocco专属品饮室?这是有点趣味的事,LarryAkio 满熟悉的了,也喜欢喝他酿的酒,可是没固定地点可以经常喝到,然后有一天跟Akio聊起说不如就在自家餐馆找个地方设品饮室,就那样,隔天有人来看位置,很快就动工,品饮室做起来了。
This is a place owned and run by Larry+his wife & team--they enjoy working at the kitchen which is visible from the moment you push that door open, but you can always talk to Larry if you only speaks English----Beach Muffin really felt like a neighbourhood store than anything else--it's a place you come buy some muffins/cakes/bottled dried food/nuts/fruits and such, as well you can sit down and dine in if Vegan food is your thing--the taproom is small--with 5 taps--serving ONLY and whatever Yorocco beers they have on that day you walk in--no bottles for sale or drink in(if your aim is to come and collect some bottles to buy back then you should take note)-- the taproom section is NOT open all week-- best to check in advance if necessary.

So what has a Vegan restaurant got to do with Yorocco beer? the answer is simple---because Larry knows the brewer Akio( who brew his beer in a place co-sharing with a bread making workshop not too far from Beach Muffin), he likes the beers, but there's no place to drink his brew on a more regular basis since the brewery do not open for visiting nor has got any sort of taproom, so one day Larry pop the question "why not open a taproom at my restaurant?", the next day some friends of Akio came, the spot for a small taproom set up identified--the rest, as people often say, is history.
作为今年唯一受邀出席哥本哈根啤酒庆典(MBCC)的日本酿坊,Yorocco啤酒当然具备一定水准,只是之前喝过许多日本Craft 品牌啤酒总让人感觉中规中矩,所以没带很大期望。不过,来逗子市前几天,在三轩茶屋朋友开的小酒吧喝到了感觉惊艳一支,是不久前限量发行的Yorocco低度农场风格啤酒,经过两年时间白葡萄酒木桶陈放,呈现木桶香味,轻盈易喝,像是喝着香醇微甘带点干白葡萄啤酒,是个人至今喝过最好的日本酿坊作品。
如果说之前那支桶陈佳酿是特酿不能做准,来到品饮室当天上啤酒泵的大多是常态款,算是一家酿坊作品水准的基点,当天5款中有SaisonPale Ale IpaPorter,个人感觉,除了Ipa 比较普通(可还是好喝过一些只强调啤酒花攻击的欧美作品),其他4款都是水准之作,有个共同点是,作品都均衡易喝但不是单调无趣,虽不惊人却也不是平庸之作。
CRAFT乐趣最关键在于酿品水准,还有就是跟谁一起喝,有时候在哪里喝也可以很关键,逗子市这个惬意下午美好的体现了三大要点交汇的画面。
To a certain extend, i wasn't expecting much before coming to Zhusi--mainly because whatever Japanese craft beer i have had so far basically gives off the impression of either "good but not exciting" or "very safe and just that" or "good for newbies"---there's been none whatsoever a Japanese craft brew which excites until few days before coming to Zhusi---at Pigalle Sangenjaya, it was an evening quick drink with a newly acquainted beer geek from US before moving to another place for a few mead tasting--there at Pigalle--we sampled a wine/oak barrel aged saison from Yorocco--the unblended version of the 2 bottles from their recent limited release---we were very very pleasantly surprised with the brew, it felt like you are drinking a still beer with not much carbonation in wine form filled with oak aroma, slightly dry and sweet at the same time---very very easy drinking yet with layers of nuances--we were basically looking at each other after the first 2 sips and went "damn...."---personally, no doubt it's by far the BEST Japanese brew i have had.
With that said, i was coming to Beach Muffin with zero expectations because i wasn't sure what this place is, i don't even know what's on tap for the day until walking in---for that day there's 2 saison-1 pale ale-1porter & 1 ipa on show--it's obviously unrealistic to expect the level of that limited release with regular brew--if i have to give an opinion--then perhaps expect for Ipa which taste quite normal(but the balance and drinkability is still better than quite a few US/Europe ipas aiming to hop/s attack)--all 4 others were certainly very pleasant/easy drinking---for lack of better words--it's not out of this world but certainly NOT your average so so beer. 
Spending an entire afternoon eating some quite delicious vegan food, drinking some beers, talking to Larry occasionally and basically doing nothing/lazying around was the order of the day, this place has got a homely/cozy vibe, you just felt right  to stay on and lazy around--and one small incident which happened that day makes the afternoon even better-- i was talking to Larry about beer related topics( what else could it be)--and Larry was like " i would like to have you meet with Akio san but he don't come in here too often"(as a brewer--this is one guy who kinda keep a low profile--seldom come in to beach muffin even when the taproom is open)--and then about 20 minutes after Larry said that and went back to working at the kitchen--he run up the small staircases where the taproom lounge is --and said " do you know who just walk in with hand full of apples?"--and so it was an afternoon where all things happened naturally--Akio san just came back from a trip to farm picking fresh apples--we chatted for a short while--an afternoon in Zhusi just got a perfect ending note.
Personally--the fun of drinking craft beer is all about what you drinking--the quality of the brew you drinking, and then it's also about who you are drinking/sharing with--and at times where you drinking at can add to the experience as well--that afternoon in Zhusi--all 3 elements just blend in perfectly--it's really a perfect afternoon to drink beer.