Craftrock Brewpub & Live, the latest place in the Craft Beer Market empire, (at least in Tokyo anyway), is their first foray into making beer instead of just serving it at very reasonable prices. Somewhat amusingly, the prices aren’t as cheap here, which seems like it could be counter-intuitive, but perhaps it’s actually more expensive to make beer than to buy other people’s beer. Not sure how that works further along the chain, but perhaps having such a big premises in a fancy shopping centre in the centre of Tokyo mught be a little more expensive than having a brewery elsewhere in Japan. As for the ‘live’, well I’m a bit of a music snob, to be honest. And that comment is more than a bit of an understatement, so I can’t say I was particularly excited about some of the bands and songs that ‘inspired’ the beers they make. Nevertheless, it was fun to have album covers displayed alongside the beers on the menu. Surely they should do some kind of beer and music pairing set where they give you some headphones to listen to the album in question as you drink the beer. Certainly would be an interesting gimmick. Anyway, enough of this meandering. Here’s what you need to know.
– Big, big, BIG place. Actually, let’s say huge. I don’t think I’ve seen such a big craft beer bar in Tokyo. And that’s not even including the brewery which I think was tucked around the corner. The main hall area, which I presume also hosts the ‘live’ has seating for maybe a hundred and a terrace for perhaps 30 more. Given the location, it will come as no surprise to hear that there were a lot of business people in there on the Thursday night I visited. Not sure if that completely fits in with the ‘punk rock’ kind of feel that I imagine they are aiming for, but I guess those salarymen love a bargain! If you’ve ever been to a craft beer market, you probably know what to expect, but better multiply it three or four times.
– 12 taps of their own beer on and three guest craft beers, so actually a smaller selection than the other bars. All their beers are generally priced the same, ¥600 for 250ml and ¥900 for 473ml, but with the occasional beer being a little more, perhaps because people will pay a little more for hazy stuff. The guests were ¥80 more for both sizes. As is usual with CBMs, there is a ¥300 cover charge, which is a little harder to work off here given that the beers are a little more expensive than usual, but I guess is still not so much if you’re there for a session. There are a variety of popular styles available, although there was only one dark beer and bizarrely when I was there they had three different types of Kolsch on. Still plenty to keep you occupied though. As it’s still reasonably new, I’m not sure if there will be a lot of rotation or whether they will keep some beers as regulars. We’ll see, I guess. They also do a beer flight of your choice of three 150ml beers for ¥1280, which is quite a bit more yen per ml wise, but is a good option if you’re in the mood for some serious ticking.
– Wifi, (it’s in a shopping centre after all. Oh, the toilets are outside in the shopping centre in case you were wondering), lots of daytime opening (perhaps without a charge then. I think that’s right…), no smoking. The patio/terrace looked pretty nice so will probably be fun in the summer. Live music on occasion with an extra charge I think. You can check the live schedule on their website and either go or avoid depending on your preference.
I quite liked this place. The fact that it’s in a shopping centre isn’t a huge winner for me, and the size is a bit off-putting. I think not many people realised the power of the CBM chain till this place opened and now we can see that it’s a monster company. Clearly this isn’t a lovely little atmosphere-filled hideaway or a secret location for those in the know. I’m not sure it would make it on to many people’s favourite bar list either, as the scale is just a bit too much. But, it was a fun place to visit and I can see myself coming back here. It’s always nice to go somewhere and drink the beer where it’s made. And I thought the beers were nice enough, although perhaps nothing knocked my socks off. It’s still pretty new though, so I’ll give them a chance and will look forward to coming back in a little while to see how they’re getting on.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
日本橋室町 3-2-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
No map needed really. It’s in the COREDO shopping centre, above and connected to Mitsukoshimae station.