Today, a post on a brewery/brewpub/restaurant in Shinagawa, T. Y. Harbor. I had been meaning to go here for a while as I had heard mixed reports and was keen to decide for myself. So, I finally made it there a couple of Fridays ago with a group of friends.
My first impression was that it’s an absolutely massive place. The complex is huge with a small bar area at the entrance which, to be honest, if compared with most beer bars in Tokyo is actually quite big. However, it seems small compared with the restaurant area which must have seating for at least a few hundred. The scale is quite shocking when compared to the bars I go to most often. The bar area is next to what I presume is part of the brewery, and the restaurant is split into two parts, one inside, and a terrace which is covered, enclosed and heated, but still has a feeling of being outside with its dockland views. The whole feeling of the place is pretty swish and quite slick. There are loads of staff buzzing around and the service was very good. They did keep taking the beer menu away though. Maybe they don’t have enough to go round! In the restaurant I couldn’t help feel a little out of place. It seems that the place is very popular with business people and people who like fancy places locations (huge presumption and generalisation, I know). Perhaps the bar area is a bit more laid-back. But after I had made it halfway down the beer list I began to relax a little.
So on to the main attraction, or what I at least expected to be the main attraction, the beer. They had eight beers available on tap, six of their own (five regulars (Pale, Wheat, Amber, IPA and Imperial Stout) and one seasonal) and two guests, one Japanese craft and one US import. The prices were pretty reasonable considering the swishness of the place. Beers were served in five sizes, small (250ml), medium (420ml), large (650ml), boot (1000ml) and pitcher (1800ml). Prices for all their beers were the same, ¥550, ¥880, ¥1250, ¥1900 and ¥3500 respectively. The guests were a little more expensive, the US import ¥650 and ¥1050 for small and medium and the Japanese guest ¥580 and ¥950. If you compare these to other bars, they’re not so expensive, but maybe not exactly cheap considering it’s their own beer. I’ve seen their beers at iBrew before where they were cheaper, so the same gripe as with the BrewDog bar I guess, but to a much less significant extent. In my opinion the regular house beers were pretty safe and a little uninspiring, but everyone has different tastes. One of them I really didn’t like though, but everyone else didn’t seem to have the same objections as I did to it. The seasonal beer was a IIPA and was really nice. Surprisingly really, really nice. Their guests were from the extremely safe (in my opinion) Coronado from the US and from Loco from Chiba, which was a bit more interesting. The guests seem to change every couple of months.
I’m not sure this is really somewhere that beer geeks need to go. In spite of it being a brewery the emphasis definitely seems to be on the food, which was nice, but also pretty expensive. The vegetarian selection was very limited though which surprised me given the size of the operation and the fact that they do seem to be an international kind of place. It reminded me a lot of Brew Wharf in London, which is a stupid comparison as I think it’s now closed and many people who read this will probably not have been there, but they also seemed to be a fancy restaurant with the attached brewery being more of an afterthought. It’s nice that they don’t have a cover charge, but to be honest it would be a bit cheeky given the food prices. The bread from the attached bakery was really nice and actually quite reasonably priced. They have a few other outlets around Tokyo which are listed on their group website and have different food specialities I believe. I guess the beer will be the same at these though, so I probably won’t be trying them. The bar area seems to be open at lunchtime and all day at weekends and on holiday, so if you are interested in trying the beers, this is probably the place to go to. To sum it up in a few words, fancy place, nice food, average beer, bit expensive, probably not really for me. But I’m sure many people will like it, so if it sounds good to you, give it a try.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Opening Hours (bar):
Monday-Friday, 11:30-14:00 (last orders), 17:00-22:00 (last orders)
Saturday, 11:30-22:00 (last orders)
Sunday & Holidays, 11:30-21:00 (last orders)
2-1-3 東品川, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
It’s closest to Tennoz Isle station, but maybe Shinagawa is a bit more of a convenient destination. A map from Shinagawa station’s east exit is below. It takes about 15 mins to walk from there. There are two Tennoz Isle stations, one on the Tokyo Monorail and one on the Rinkai line. They are both pretty close, so I won’t write directions. Please check this map.