Today, another journey out of Tokyo, this time to Utsunomiya in Tochigi. On my previous visit to Utsunomiya, I visited the Tochigi microbrewery, home to some interesting and varied beers. However, now Utsunomiya is no longer a one bar city. Blue Magic opened late last year (I think) and is the home of the soon to be fully functioning Utsunomiya brewery. They will be making beers on site, and you can see some of the brewery from the bar area. Their beers should start appearing in the next couple of months.
The concept of Blue Magic is a little different from other bars on this blog. In fact, it is safe to say that Blue Magic is the only bar focusing on beers from Tochigi prefecture. This means that they have beers from Preston, Nasu Kogen, Romantic Village, Tochigi microbrewery and, when it is fully operational, Utsunomiya. I like the fact that they are keeping things local. Recently you could say that a lot of places that have opened are fairly similar, so it’s nice that Blue Magic has something different. Perhaps the future for new places in Tokyo is in finding something unique and going with that. There certainly is a lot of competition now.
Anyway, back to Blue Magic. The bar area has seating for around 20 and eight more at the counter. As is befitting of a recently opened place, the place is comfortable and fairly modern looking. There’s not a huge amount of daylight, but given that most people will visit at nighttime, I am mentioning this more to give you an idea of the place rather than pass comment on the atmosphere. The lady who was serving when we visited was very friendly, and told us a lot about the place and the beers they had on offer. They offer a few bar snacks, but also allow and even encourage you to bring in your own food to have with your beers. They have some suggestions of local eating places that do takeaway if you need inspiration.
On to the beer. There are ten taps, two of which are macros. The remaining eight will be usually all Tochigi breweries when the Utsunomiya brewery is up and running. Until then they have some out of Tochigi guests. When we visited, these were the Coedo and Luc ‘Bim’ Lafontaine collaboration saison Setsugekka, and one from Victory from the US. Beers are served in two sizes, short (310ml) and regular (420ml) and prices for all these beers ranged from ¥500-¥600 for the short and ¥700-¥800 for the regular. So pretty affordable, and a nice change from Tokyo! They have a nice board behind the bar demonstrating where the various beers on tap fit in taste and colour wise if you need any advice. When they are up and brewing, they will also sell bottles to take away or drink on the premises.
So, not much more to say. It may not have the biggest selection around, but it does offer something different. Prices are really good, there’s no cover charge and it’s a nice place to enjoy a beer. They open at 15.00, so for once daytime drinking is an option. In the evening, I would imagine it is popular with locals. Whilst we were there in the late afternoon, a few popped in for a drink and a chat with the staff. They post their tap list online daily so you can check before you visit if you are so inclined, or just turn up and take the plunge.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 15.00-22.00
Closed Tuesdays, and the third Monday of the month (unless it’s a holiday)
3-8 池上町 1F, Utsunomiya, Tochigi
Blue Magic is much closer to the Tobu Utsunomiya station but I suspect most people will arrive at the JR station, so the map shows directions from there. It’s about 1.6km, so if you don’t like walking, might be best to get a cab and give them the address (3-8 Ikegamicho). If you are up for the walk, you can do most of it along the main road Odori. It’s a bit complicated to explain, so best check the map below. It’s probably a bit more interesting to weave through town rather than going along the main road, so I guess I’ll leave it to you this time. Sorry!