Beer Cafe Hopman: The Bottom Line
I wasn’t made to feel particularly welcome at Beer Cafe Hopman, and the decor design was dull as dirty dishwater, so it’s a good job there’s a huge menu to bury your head in. If you’re expecting friendly chat with the locals or staff, though, or an atmosphere more habitable than Venus, or, y’know, fun, then go to Gold’n Bub. But if you’re not averse to silent contemplation of a rare beer in a bar that looks like a dining room showroom, then Beer Cafe Hopman is for you.
Beer Cafe Hopman: The Review
Beer Cafe Hopman is in Chigasaki, Kanagawa, a five-minute trot from the north exit of Chigasaki station. It’s pretty well concealed up a flight of stairs, and the owners also run a yakitori restaurant on the ground (or first) floor of the building. They’ve been open since 2010, and their main draw is a tap list that could rival a bar in central Tokyo- anywhere from 25 to 40 beers are on tap, with three hand pumps. How they stay open is anyone’s guess. They’re open from 3pm until late (either 1am or 3am, depending on where you look), and are open every day. Smoking is allowed in the bar though it is segregated.
The second location in our three-bar Chigasaki mini crawl, we were in high spirits after several forearm-sized glasses of imperial stout at the rowdy beer hall of Mokichi Foods Garden. I’d been to Hopman once before but wasn’t into craft beer so much at the time and hadn’t been back since starting BeerTengoku. I’ve been avidly following their blog, however, and their daily blog posts on the updated tap lists are mind-boggling. But we’ll get to that later.
It was about 3pm on a Saturday when we arrived at the bar and they seemed to be just opening up, although there were already a couple of punters skulking at the counter. There is counter seating for about fifteen and tables for about twenty people. The decor is all white leather and black wood, which I thought was a bit soulless, especially coming from the rustic charm of Mokichi Foods Garden and then going on to the steampunk aesthetic of Gold’n Bub. They could have done a lot more with the place, is what I’m saying. Maybe they put so much thought into maintaining their colossal tap list that they couldn’t be bothered with how the bar looked. I dunno. But take away the craft beer and this could be any page in Interior Design Basics magazine. It’s like if Ikea designed a bar.
It began to fill up as the gloaming approached (always wanted to use that word), but remained pretty quiet and sedate. I suppose it would be a good place to go and sit by yourself, grumpily drinking and writing up beer reviews; yet again, the difference between here and the other places we visited in Chigasaki is plain.
The staff weren’t particularly talkative, and the strange way the bar is constructed means that they are standing over you with the tops of their heads concealed. It reminded me of a ramen restaurant. We got the menu and ordered after reattaching our jaws- Rob had never been here before, and was amazed at what was on tap; I had just swallowed a whole goat I had crushed to death beforehand.
Literally every type of beer is on tap here. And I mean literally in the figurative sense. Now, as craft beer drinkers, we have a huge variety to choose from compared to the average Johnny Asahi who thinks that Premium Malts is the height of sophistication and feels a perverse emasculating thrill whenever he drinks a sakura-pink can of Super Dry for cherry blossom viewing season. But even amongst us Enlightened Ones, we are still shackled by what the bars think will sell the best. IPAs, porters and lagers aplenty, basically.
Not Beer Cafe Hopman, though. The encyclopedia zymurgica we were handed had a few beers in almost every style we could think of. An example: Rob has a personal mission to drink every one of the yearly Masaji beers, a collaborative effort amongst several breweries that produces about 10 different beers a year. Hopman had one! Another example: I love sour beers, but they don’t agree with me. While I can’t drink saisons, I recently discovered I can tolerate gose beers no problem. Guess what? Hopman had three! We had a lot of fun choosing from the menu, but the staff weren’t very forthcoming in advice. It’s not as if they were busy, either. Is it just not a “talking”-type place? You’d expect a bar with 40 bloody taps to be a bit more rowdy.
We were so busy with the menu that I honestly don’t remember if we got any food, and we had already eaten anyway. Besides, if you’re coming here, it’s not for the food. Be honest. Know that food is available, though. Proper, cooked food. So many places Rob reviews can barely be bothered to heat up a dustbin lid full of chips under a greasy light bulb. Shonan bars are more well-rounded, in my experience.
We went to Gold’n Bub after a few hours, and it was such a breath of fresh air to feel welcomed into a bar, and to drink in a bar that looks like it was designed with craft beer as a central theme. For craft beer fans in the area, Beer Cafe Hopman can only be recommended for its menu. Follow the blog, and if a beer you want to try crops up, then go. But if you’re looking for somewhere friendly, welcoming and lively, hit up either Mokichi Foods Garden or Gold’n Bub.
Beer Cafe Hopman: Bonus Review
Beer Cafe Hopman Details
Open: Daily 15:00 – 23:30 (L.O 23:00)
Happy Hour: None
Homepage (in Japanese): http://hopman.seesaa.net/
How to Get to Beer Cafe Hopman
The closest station to Beer Cafe Hopman is JR Chigasaki that is located on the Tokaido Line and also the Sagami line, though that is a local country line through the countryside with one or two trains an hour. It’s about a ten minute walk from the north exit.