THIS BAR IS NOW CLOSED. I HAVE LEFT THE POST HERE FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES, BUT DON’T TRY TO GO THERE! IT’S SHUT.
Today, one of the first craft beer places I went to in Tokyo after I arrived here, but somewhere I haven’t managed to get back to since then. A couple of weeks after I moved here I went to one of Beer Horn’s nomihodai beer launch events with a kind fellow Ratebeerer and have been meaning to come back since, but I guess Akasaka is not somewhere I find myself too often.
Beer Horn is the Tokyo outpost/taproom of Hokkaido’s Otaru brewery, situated right in the heart of Akasaka’s business area. The bar itself is in the basement on a main shopping and nightlife street, and if it wasn’t for the signs, could probably be easily missed if you were not looking for it. But it is well worth looking out for. Otaru’s beers are predominately in the German/European style; their three regular beers are ‘The Horn’ (Otaru Pilsner), ‘Dark Horn’ (Otaru Dunkel) and ‘White Horn’ (Otaru Weiss). Along with this, they have one special seasonal beer which changes throughout the year and is in a variety of styles ranging from a Belgian style fruit beer to a hefty Eisbock. Along with these four taps, they also offer a range of lower alcohol options, including a dark and light alcohol free beers and a couple of ‘beer plus soft drink’ options. All beers come in two sizes, 400ml and a massive 700ml and are served in horn shaped glasses. If you are feeling a bit more viking-like there are also real animal horns to drink out of, but to be honest, this really doesn’t appeal to me. Beer prices are a bargain ¥580 for the regular size and ¥1200 for the large across the board apart from the seasonal which is ¥680 and ¥1400 respectively. One other thing I should mention is that they have a number of party plans, where you can get various set menus and add a nomihodai on to it. So if you are planning on eating and drinking, this is the way to go. The various options can be seen here, but only in Japanese, I’m afraid.
The place itself is fairly large for a Japanese beer bar. There is a counter area with seating for around 6 and plenty of tables, maybe seating for around 60. The first night I was there for the beer launch the place was rammed and there were a lot of people standing. However, when I recently returned on a Saturday night, it was much quieter with only a handful of people there. I suspect that a regular weeknight falls somewhere between the two. Given that this is mainly a business district, it is not so surprising that it is quieter at the weekend, so if a more relaxed experience is what you are after, this is the best time to come. If you want a rowdier beer party atmosphere, try the beer launch nights. Along with the beer they have a decently priced food menu with some nice stuff on there. One slight drawback for me is that it seems that you can smoke here. Possibly there is a non-smoking area, but this doesn’t really make a lot of difference when there is no real division between the two areas. On a quiet weekend night this wasn’t a problem, but I can imagine that if it’s packed it could get a bit unpleasant.
So, all in all, another really good place to drink in Tokyo. Although the Akasaka area might not appeal to some (on a weekday, myself included) it was nice and quiet at the weekend, so an option for you whatever your atmosphere preference. Otaru beers are good and tasty, the prices are pretty hard to beat, and there are enough different beers on to satisfy the physical and mental thirst of most drinkers. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get back here. The next time will definitely be not so long!
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
土橋ビルB1階, 3-17-8 赤坂, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Beer Horn is pretty easy to get to from either Akasaka or Akasakamitsuke metro stations. I have picked Akasaka, as it is on my line and the directions are much simpler. Leave via exit 1 and just carry on along the street. If you want to count side streets, it is just past the 6th one on the right. Otherwise, you can look out for a 7/11 on the right-hand side. Beer Horn is in the basement just before you get to the 7/11. There’s quite a lot of signage outside so it should be difficult to miss if you are looking for it.