This is another low detail interlude where I mention some places that I’ve visited in far flung places that are a long way out of the catchment area of this blog. There are minimal details and some links to websites or Facebooks or Instagrams and that’s all. Today, it’s Kumamoto. One thing to mention if you’re considering visiting is that most of the bars are in the centre of town and not near the Shinkansen station, so I wouldn’t book accommodation in the station area unless you like walking. There were a few other places in town but we thought the ones we went to looked like the best ones and I’m not going to add somewhere I haven’t been in case it’s crap and then you’ll blame me. Kumamoto seems to be blessed with some very atmospheric places. Unfortunately, some of them are smoking though… But this seems to be a Kyushu staple. Anyway, here we go.
Beer Bar Ble Ble
Half trendy and fancy bar, and half bicycle repair premises, at least from the decor anyway. Design and atmosphere (of the bar part) were pretty nice. Food was very very nice! Four taps of Kumamoto Brewing craft beer and some guest beers too which were pretty interesting. They also have some big bottle of Belgian stuff available at big Belgian bottle style prices. Very unique and enjoyable experience.
Craft Beer Oiseau
Perhaps more traditional craft beer and dining establishment. Five taps of Kumamoto Brewing beer with a seasonal included. Food was nice but we only tried the chips (or fries, depending on your linguistic preference). Jazz soundtrack and nice patio too, but as it was winter and night time, we didn’t go for the latter.
Upstairs in a building that seems to have lots of those kind of weird bars where you have a middle aged lady in a kimono pour you sake and chat with you and you pay a lot of money for the experience. Dark and cosy with five or six taps of Japanese craft from some very interesting and rarely seen breweries. Big food list but it was late when we visited so we didn’t investigate it. Soundtrack was a bit banging but they had a picture of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on the wall, so maybe we were there on party night.
Very unique standing bar with a tiny counter in the middle which the customers stand around. Looks like somewhere you would get into a conversation with the other customers. Friendly barman who also serves apparently very nice curry. Five or six taps (as most places seem to have) but this time it’s quite a unique selection with pretty strong beers and pretty interesting beers. Leans more towards imports perhaps, but they do have some Japanese stuff on. Online pictures show Mikkeller Beer Celebration Tokyo paraphernalia and this will give you some idea about the slant of the beer list. They have a system where you put your money in a little box in front of you at the start of your visit and as your drinks are served the barman takes the payment and puts the change in the box. Very interesting decor. Fun place!
The Seafood Beer Station KAEN
Next to Kumamoto station in Amu Plaza on the 7th floor, this is another taproom for the Diamond Brewery/Brewery Kaen. The other places they have in Kumamoto are meat focused (and I haven’t visited them), but this one isn’t as you can probably guess from the name. As it’s in a shopping centre food court, it’s open during the day, every day. If it’s good weather I imagine you’d get a nice view of the mountains in the distance but if it isn’t you’ll have to make do with looking at some tower block hotels instead. When we visited they had four taps on but it looked like they have more. Three of the taps were local craft beer and one was a trendy UK import. Prices are about what you’d expect but the sizes are a bit smaller than usual which somewhat undermines my previous comment. ¥600-¥800 for the regular which is 180ml and ¥900-¥1200 for the Full (330ml). Flight of two beers for ¥1000 available from 11:00-17:00. No cover charge and they seem to be ok with you just drinking if you want.