Today a pub which, if it was in London would be a very divisive place, but perhaps doesn’t have the same effect in Japan. Highbury, as you may have guessed, is a British style beer pub with a big Arsenal influence. Although there is definitely still something here for you if you have no interest in football. If you are a Tottenham fan though, you might find it a bit testing. Don’t confuse it with one of the many British or sports pubs around Tokyo as the place is very serious about its beer, evidenced by the fact that they will start brewing some time soon (hopefully) with their new ‘Gunners Brewing’ venture. Ando-san, probably known to some of you from his time at Bay Brewing or more recently working at the Hitachino Nest Brew Lab will be making the beers, drawing on his experience of working at breweries in the Czech Republic and more recently Thornbridge. The Thornbridge connection is in full display in the decor and the beer selection at Highbury too.
– Very much a British pub feel. Seating for around 16 at tables, a few standing tables and a standing counter too. To keep the British feel going, you order at the end of the bar and pay as you go. Food seemed like a mix of traditional pub food and some Japanese stuff. Didn’t try it, but it looked nice.
– 11 taps, set out on the menu and blackboard as a football team line-up would be. The centre backs are not so interesting for craft beer lovers as they are Sapporo and Ebisu but the other nine taps are craft beer and are dominated by Thornbridge beers (five taps). The other four are made up with a couple of Hitachino Nest beers (one on handpump) and a couple of Ushi Tora beers. The logos for these breweries are painted on the outside of the building so I guess there will always be beers from these breweries on. Although this will probably change a little when they start brewing their own stuff.
– Beer is served in a variety of sizes. The Thornbridge stuff is available in half (UK half), medium (US pint, I think) and pint (UK pint) and is priced at ¥750, ¥1000 and ¥1200 respectively. The Japanese craft is available in half and pint too (¥800 and ¥1000) but the more special beers (including Hitachino Nest barrel aged beers), are just sold in one size and, judging by the menu, in a fancy glass. It’s a nice touch that they have what is coming up next on the menu, so you know what to expect. No cover charge and tax included.
– Also a big bottle cellar with a big variety of styles, breweries and countries available, (US, Belgian and others) with some very interesting stuff there. Not sure how they are priced as I just peaked through the window, but it certainly shows that you have somewhere else to turn when you have exhausted the tap list.
– Just round the corner from Bamboo and from the two Vector places, so good chance for a nice pub crawl in a small area (if you don’t mind the cover charge at Vector).
So, a new place with something that sets it apart from many of the other newly opened bars around. I think I’ll be back here to drink Thornbridge some time, as whilst you see it around in some bars, you don’t get it in such quantities in one place. The interesting bottle selection also sets it apart. It’s clear that there is a real passion for beer here, something that is not present in all of the places I’ve been to for this blog, sadly. The daytime opening is a big plus too. A nice place that is recommended unless you are a sensitive Tottenham fan, but even then, there’s still something here for you if you can get over the one small sticking point.
Japanese breweries seen on tap:
新宿 1-17-5, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo