PLEASE NOTE: THEY ARE NOW CLOSED ON THURSDAYS. HOURS UPDATED BELOW
This is the new bar from the people who were running World Beer Market on the other side of Kita Senju station. That shop has now closed and they have opened Beer Ma, a bar and bottle shop on the west side of the station and also Beer Ma Base, their warehouse which also functions as a bottle shop, one station away. I was planning to go to both but thought there probably wasn’t much point as I figured that whatever they’d have in their warehouse would also be in their shop. Perhaps I wasn’t quite right about this, so maybe I’ll have to visit and add Beer Ma Base another time. But for the time being this will have to do.
– Interesting looking place. Shop front has a bit of a pre-packaged distressed ‘artiness’ about it with lots of bits of colored sheet metal on it. Interior is concrete heavy in a Brewdog bar kind of way, or at least that’s what it reminded me of. Front part of the shop is the standing bar, with a bar counter and another counter along the other wall. The back part is the bottle shop. When we visited on a Sunday afternoon it was pretty busy and the turnover of customers was quite high. I guess the idea is that you stay for a couple and then move on, hence there being no seats. Perhaps the temperature in the shop also was intended to have this effect as it was pretty warm in there! Guess they might be overdoing it due to the big sliding door which lets in a lot of cold air every time someone arrives or leaves. To be honest I think the standing place by the door might be the best place to stand at the moment as the cold breeze was quite a pleasant relief from the heat at times. By the way, be careful with the door. I saw a couple of people get their hand nipped by it. Constant stream of light smooth jazz and Bossa Nova music. Maybe this is also supposed to contribute to the fast turnover of customers!
– Ten taps of craft beer, mainly imported with what seems to be an emphasis on Brewdog, Stone and the like. Seems that the tap selections veer towards the more mainstream. However, since they opened I have also seen them have some much more interesting stuff on too, so maybe I was just unlucky when I went. Prices ranged from ¥850-¥1200 but the size of the glasses varied and there were no sizes mentioned. I have a suspicion that the glasses were also not as big as they looked, a 650ml bomber pretty much filled two ‘pint’ glasses with not much head. Either my maths is not very good or the ‘pints’ are a bit smaller than what the name would suggest. For the taps, you can order at the counter or at the till. You pay as you go. [PRICE UPDATE: Regular (400ml), ¥1100-¥2000(!), Small (265ml), ¥800-¥1700(!)]
– Huge bottle selection, as you would expect from a beer shop. Whilst the choice is a little smaller than it was in the previous location there were still a large number of bottled beers from many different countries available. I felt that the Japanese selection had shrunk quite a bit, with some of the more unusual Japanese breweries they used to stock not being present. However the US selection is big and there is quite a lot of Belgian stuff too. I wonder if the selection at Beer Ma Base is the same, or if Beer Ma represents what they consider to be the highlights of their whole range. The price on the fridge is the beer price without tax, which is added at the till. To drink in, they charge you a ¥100 corkage fee, plus a charge of ¥100 per glass. [The Kanda branch’s corkage fees are ¥200, so I suspect it’s not the same here. Will update if I get confirmation]. I didn’t really work out whether they are happy with you reusing the same glass or you are supposed to get a new glass with every beer. [Got some clarification and you are supposed to get new glasses with each beer] Our group kind of did a bit of both. Even with these fees, the bottle prices are pretty good. Much better than the taps I think.
– Some food available. Think there was a lasagne and a few other small dishes. The other quick bits of info you need are that there is no cover charge and no wifi. They are open during the day for beer sales, but I believe you need to wait till the evening to drink on site.
All in all, I think this is a pretty interesting place to have as an option. I have always thought good things about their beer selection and although this has dropped a little, (at least in this location rather than at Beer Ma Base which might have more), it’s still one of the best in Tokyo. I’m not really sure the taps will be the thing that gets me to visit, although as they publish their taplist on their Facebook, if I spot something I want, I’ll pop in. The drink on site bottle shop is a great thing though. I think the corkage fee is perfectly reasonable and the prices good. The atmosphere is a little strange, but I think most people will either not notice it or maybe even enjoy it. It was pretty busy when we visited and I imagine that this will also be the case in the future. Will update this post when I manage to get to Beer Ma Base and clarify a few details, but this is clearly a place that will be of interest to quite a few beer lovers.
Japanese breweries seen on tap:
None when I was there, but think they occasionally have some
Monday-Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, 12:00-22:00
Sunday & holidays, 12:00-21:00
Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 16:00-24:00
Sunday & holidays, 14:00-21:00
千住 2-62, Adachi-ku, Tokyo