Today, the interestingly named Craft Beer Server Land. I have passed through Iidabashi quite a few times but have never got off here, so I was in uncharted territory. From looking at the review on Craft Beer Tokyo there was one thing that immediately jumped out at me. The prices and sizes are exactly the same as Craft Beer Market. I wondered if they were connected in some way, but I suspect after visiting, that CBM was their inspiration rather than Craft Beer Server Land being a new CBM spin-off.
The place is located on what seems to be the main shopping street in Iidabashi, in the basement below a big sign for the Big Echo karaoke chain. Probably best to look out for the Big Echo sign, as their own branding is more subtle. Descending into the basement you can see that the place is very new and modern. It was bigger than I had expected, (I am now getting used to small bars here), with seating for around 30 at high tables in twos. These can easily be combined for larger groups. There is also a couple of counter areas with further seating for about 15. In the tradition of most Japanese beer bars, this is an establishment concerned with beer and food, so there is a menu of varied food items at decent prices. I should also point out that there is a ¥380 cover charge, but this is compensated by the low beer prices.
On to the beer. There were 13 craft selections on offer when I visited, although I counted 25 taps so they have room for expansion. The breweries on offer were among the more common ones you see around but there were a few surprises. The Tazawako Pilsner was something I haven’t noticed around before and was really nice. And I don’t think I have seen Rokko much outside of Kobe before. Beers come in two sizes, glass (250ml, ¥480) and pint (473ml, ¥780) and are served in the bars own branded glasses. (Edit: Due to the increase in consumption tax these are now ¥500 and ¥840). There was a decent variety of styles available and no danger of not being able to find something I wanted to drink. In fact there were five that I ‘had to have’ (although maybe I am just telling myself that…).
So, it’s not a mindblowingly different experience, and they don’t specialise in hard to find breweries, but Craft Beer Server land is a pretty nice place. There does definitely seem to be a trend recently for craft beer places with lower prices. iBrew has just opened their second branch, Craft Beer Market have opened their third, so there is a market for places that offer cheaper beers (even if they do come with a cover charge). This is clearly a nice place, and late afternoon on a bank holiday there were a few people in here. It was getting busier as I left too, so it looks like they have opened in a good location. One thing I really liked was that they gave me vinegar with my chips. You don’t get that in many places, and perhaps naively, it left me with a good feeling about the place. It’s new and you can see that, but they seem to be up and running pretty quickly and pretty efficiently. Another gap filled in my Tokyo Beer Drinker map.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Saturday, Sunday and national holidays, 12.00-22.30
川ビルB1F, 神楽坂2-9, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Aaahh, easy directions to write for once! Leave Iidabashi metro station by exit B3. Turn right out of the exit and go up the hill. Craft Beer Server land is on the left hand side after about 75m, underneath a Big Echo sign.