OK here is the proposed schedule. Clearly this is flexible, but this is initial step. I was thinking about a Yokohama crawl on Friday, but clearly straight up Tokyo vs. Yokohama for a crawl, Tokyo wins. That said, out of towners cannot miss Yokohama, it has an amazing beer scene with pubs very close together. Additionally, I left some good places out like Ant N Bee, but I think this is a great cross section. Note that I am not planning to take people to Popeye or Ushitora, as everyone seems to go there anyways, and several people coming from overseas have already been to this two places.
Friday Night Tokyo Crawl
(Shinshu and CBM are close. Facuets and WH are somewhat close)
5pm Brimmer Beer Box for anyone that wants to start early. I will join there or take you to Shinshu Sake Mura, as my office is near by
6-730pm Shinshu Sake Mura, we can have a look at Dry Dock or Coopers if appropriate. If you want to sample sake, in addition to the 30+ Nagano beers in bottles and Tap (only Nagano products available), this is the place to do it.
730pm Craft Beer Market for dinner - 20 domestic beers on tap.
930pm Watering Hole (17 taps, mainly domestics) or Craft Heads (17 taps, mainly import)
11pm Faucets (30-40 taps, mixed domestic and import)
Saturday Plan A
4-9pm Grand Tasting
Saturday Plan B
3-430pm Devil Craft for Pizza and Beer
5-9pm Grand Tasting
Devil Craft opens at 3pm. I highly recommend we go there at some point, as the taplist is consistently one of the best chosen for import and domestic beers. That said, I would probably vote for Plan A.
Sunday. Three options.
Sunday Plan A
10am Depart Ueno to Hitachino Nest Brewery tour (I guess we can do lunch near Hitachino, but donít know food options that well)
2pm Visit Chateau Kamiya with Brewery tour
6pm Devil Craft for dinner
Sunday Plan B
10am Depart Ueno for Chateau Kamiya for brunch and brewery tour
3pm Arrive at Vivo
730pm Devil Craft for pizza and beer
Sunday Plan C
1030am Depart Ikebukuro for Zakko for brunch and brewery tour
1pm Hit Tama no Megumi Brewery
7pm Devil Craft for dinner.
Note that Beersaurus rarely has Japanese craft beer available, but I will ask. Often it gets some really rare beers though. Beersaurus and Vivo are about a five minute walk from each other, assuming you donít get lost, which is nearly impossible.
We can easily adjust places on the day of the tour if a place has something really special on Tap.
Iíve never been to Zakko, but clearly the reviews are very positive. I know with Chateau Kamiya, we can definitely get a brewery tour in English and the brewer is a cool guy who will drink with us afterwards. Iíve also not been to Hitachino, but getting a brewery tour in English shouldnít be an issue.
I think most people in Japan will be inclined for option B or C, but voting is always good.
For the overseas people, do you mind drinking imported beers? Sometime people only want to drink domestic breweries and the selection above is definitely geared towards domestic breweries, with a couple pubs as exceptions.
If the beer is good, I donít mind one bit if itís imported.
My vote -
Zakko is great, but I wonder , depending on how many of us there will be, if we might be a bit too big a group. There canít be more than 15 seats in the place. It is a great place though and I guess if we are heading there early it might not be a problem.
Chateau Kamiya does sound good as well though and I guess it is especially helpful if you know the brewer.
Could Kamiya (and/or Zakko) be done for lunch before the Grand Tasting on Saturday?
Interesting thought Martin T. I never thought of that, but certainly that is possible. I was worried about people wanting to recover on Sat if Friday is a big night. ASSUMING we can keep our heads straight on Friday, then leaving 11am on Sat for lunch and brewery tour at Kamiya and coming back to Tokyo for 4pm for the Grand Tasting is VERY feasible. Actually coming back would certainly sober us up (door to door - brewery to my apartment, would be 1.5hrs or slightly more). If we did that we could certainly do Zakko the next day.
Shoulderbroken brought up a good point though, that it is a small place. However, I canít see more than 15 people going, so I think it should be fine. We can easily reserve all seats if necessary and if we tell them we will arrive and leave for lunch early, it shouldnít be an issue.
I think Zakko and Kamiya deserve visits, so I would be down with putting Kamiya into Saturday and Sunday going with plan C. Depending on time and motivation, we can easily put Beersaurus into the mix on Sunday. The staff are great and they MAY put something special on tap for us. The issue I see with asking them, is we will likely only stop for one beer during happy hour (half price beer at 600 yen), which I donít think is cool as they are clearly not making money at this time. Just to be clear, when I mean special, I mean like stuff with under 10 or 20 ratings on RB, last time I was there Jonno and I had
and before that
Ken the manager is a reasonable guy and I can talk to him and explain the situation and see what he suggests.
I can also talk to Devil Craft guys. I wouldnít put them out of their way, but if I explain the situation, I am certain they will be be somewhat accommodating, or it may seem that way, but really it is just the planned line up anyways.
What do people think of Kamiya on Sat for lunch, followed by Grand Tasting and Sunday plan C?
I think doing either of those early, and maybe stopping somewhere like Devil Craft or Beersaurus before the Grand Tasting would work fine. In LA, we hit 5 bars before the tasting, which was way too much, but 2 is fine.
On another note: For those who will come to the Kyoto-Osaka area BEFORE the gathering in Tokyo. Of course, Japan residents are very welcome to join. Staying in Kyoto or Osaka would be fine for any of these.
During the preceding week, if people are interested, I will organize:
-A day-long pub crawl in Northern Osaka (Craft Beer Base, Malto, 1020, Beer Belly, Yellow Ape, Q-Brick)
-Some kind of special sake and/or craft beer tasting with food at a Kyoto restaurant.
Other options as a group or by yourselves include (I might not be able to join all of these):
-Kobe Pub and Brewery Crawl (Rokko, Taishikan, Sandaya, Meriken, Barley, Shiroyuki)
-Nada Area (Kobe) Sake Brewery crawl (hard-core)
-Fushimi Area (Kyoto) Sake and Brewpub visits with stops at Temples and Shrines
-Southern Osaka Pub Crawl (Eni-bru, 2nd Vine, Yosuga)
I know that Martin and others (Theis and Matte?) will come after Tokyo. I can arrange various things for you as well if you are interested, though not as much as I can do beforehand, because of my work schedule.
Revised. OK, Iíve revised a bit, ok maybe a lot. What I am thinking is to skip Shinshu sake mura on Friday night? why because it is usually busy and hard to get three people inside, much less a large group. However, it is open on Saturday (closed 2/3rd sat of the month, from 11am until 630pm on Sat). Additionally, this frees up more time to visit other places.
Friday Night Tokyo Crawl
5pm Brimmer Beer Box for anyone that wants to start early. I will join there or take you to Craft Beer Market, as my office is near by
630pm Craft Beer Market for (early) dinner. Feel free to graze and eat at other places as well if you like. Note that Craft Beer Market is difficult to find, so it would be best to meet either at Brimmer or Shimbashi Station.
830pm Watering Hole (17 taps, mainly domestics) or Craft Heads (17 taps, mainly import)
10pm Faucets (30-40 taps, mixed domestic and import).
It would not be totally impossible to do Watering Hole, Craft Heads and Faucets, which makes sense if the menu at each place only had a couple things of interest (highly unlikely). We will judge by the taplist, which place to hit that day and I will call ahead to make sure we can fit into each of those place before we go there, but those three places are all very large size for craft beer bars, so I donít see this as a major issue.
10am departure from Ueno. Lunch/Brunch and Brewery tour at Chateau Kamiya
1pm leave Chateau Kamiya. Of course Shinshu Sake mura can be like a 15-20 stop over for a quick one, so we can delay leaving CK if we are having a good time. We can play this by year.
230pm Arrive at Shinshu Sake mura.
330pm leave shinshu sake mura
4pm arrive at my apartment building for Grand Tasting.
Sunday (I will make reservations for all of these places. Note it is 70 min from Ikebukuro to Zakko, 70 min from Zakko to Tama No Megumi and 70 min from Tama No Megumi to Ikebukuro. That is a lot of traveling by train. Of course, since drinking on the train is permitted, we can always do a train sampling. If not, we might want to think about just going to Zakko and then going to Vivo. What are peopleís thoughts on this. We could also rent a van or two, but I am not sure how much time this will save - I can look into this.)
10am Depart Ikebukuro for Zakko for brunch and brewery tour
2pm Hit Tama no Megumi Brewery (English speaking brewery tour is available)
7pm Devil Craft for dinner.
As mentioned previously, we might fit Beersaurus into the picture after Vivo, in which case, we push back Devil to 730 or 8pm. Deep dish pizza at Devil with a good mix of local and imports seems like a good way to end the weekend.
I think this schedule is experiencing a lot of great place in a short amount of time. You will get a feel for the Tokyo beer scene, more than others would in an entire year.
Tim: Thanks for everything! Iím really looking forward to this. I will be with my wife and daughter, so I probably wonít be able to partake in ALL activities, but will do my best.
Mark: Thanks also for your generous offer. I will be in touch, but no need to plan anything for me. A few good beers together at 1 cool place is all it takes to make me happy. Iíll be traveling a lot next year, so I will need to pace myself. ;)