Brew La La The Bottom Line
Brew La La is great. The staff is friendly, the beer selection is wide, the food is solid pub fare, and there’s regular events such as pub quizzes (we didn’t stick around for the Star Wars pub quiz because neither Rob nor Aldo had allegedly seen arguably the most important cinematic series of the 20th century, and I only care about TIE fighters). And the shuffleboard table is free to play! It feels like you’re a member of a club when you go there. And isn’t that what you want when you go to a bar? To go WHERE EVERY BODY KNOWS YOUR NAME? EH? EH???
Brew La La The Full Review
Little country mouse Joe doesn’t get out to Tokyo very often, and I think this is actually just the third time I’d gone to a craft beer bar in the capital since we started the site in 2014. This night out was also almost scuppered by the entire rail network breaking down, which led to numerous frantic messages between myself (unable to get into Tokyo), designer of the new BT logo Aldo (in Tokyo and not able to leave) and Rob (waiting it out in Craftsman Yokohama and then having to neck a pint of Imperial IPA when the train suddenly arrived).
We all eventually made it to Shimbashi, Rob ahead of us in both drinking and location. Aldo and I had never met in person before but we were walking next to each other for a while before eventually realising when we both stopped to locate Brew La La. It’s a bit confusing, as the bar is on the second floor and the stairway is slightly down a side street away from the main road.
So we clomp up the stairs and we see Rob chatting with Jonathan So, the gregarious owner of Brew La La. He opened the bar in July 2017, so they’d been up and running for four months when we went.
The interior of Brew La La made me think of the kind of office a tech startup would have. You know, cool music, exposed walls, wooden tables and leather seats, spotlights, projectors – that day showing the original Star Wars in celebration of the release of The Last Jedi – and even a shuffleboard table (British people, shuffleboard is a tabletop cross between curling and bowls). Check out the video of us playing it at the end of this review, in which Rob calls it “Shuttlepucks” and I beat everyone.
The bar is non-smoking too, which is rapidly becoming the norm in Japan. Hopefully by 2020 we won’t have to say that a bar is non-smoking, only when it isn’t.
There’s a variety of seating options, including a big comfy leather sofa, a long table for big groups of Star Wars nerds and counter seating that seemingly stretches along the entirety of the room. The toilets are a bit weird, decorated as they are to look like a scene from the New York subway, maybe? There’s an ambient loop of subway train announcements piped in as well, so you can actually feel like you’re pissing on the platform at Flushing Meadows.
The staff, including So himself, were friendly and helpful, and willing to explain anything on the menu. They even passed the Bright Menu Test, which is a very scientific test where Rob calls them over to order and then proceeds to look at the menu and decide what he wants while they have to stand there. While seemingly just an annoying thing that Rob does, it is actually a sophisticated method we use to gauge staff temperament. Really.
Speaking of menus! Brew La La has twelve taps, ten of which were domestic beers when we were there. There was a broad range of styles, from Johana Beer’s odd Apple Tea down to Baird Brewing’s Bakayaro-! Ale. There’s also bottles available, but who drinks bottles in a craft beer bar? And for once, there were no concessions to anyone scared of craft beer- there’s not a Heartland or Asahi Super Dry tap in sight. Good! The prices weren’t bad as well, for a bar in Shimbashi. A small size will set you back 700-800yen and a large, 1000-1100yen. Prices also included tax.
There’s a food menu too, and though I wasn’t hungry, I decided to steal Rob’s sandwich he was fawning over (like I mentioned, he had previously skulled a pint of Imperial IPA and was starting to get inappropriate with inanimate objects). It was a beef and blue cheese toasted sandwich, which I suppose is the closest you can get to a Philly cheese steak in Japan. And it was good. Not as orgasmic as Rob was making it out to be, but definitely a nice pairing to the beer. (And when we went to Minami Yokohama Beer Labo, Joe had a tantrum and wouldn’t share his, yet asked me for chips! – Rob) The rest of the menu is simple and hearty kind of stuff in the same kind of vein.
Brew La La Details
Open: Weekdays 17:00 – 00:00 Saturdays 17:00 – 00:00
Happy Hour: None
How to Get to Brew La La
Brew La La is located between Shimbashi station on the JR Yamanote, Tokaido, Keihin Tohoku, and Yokosuka Lines. It’s also near Uchisaiwaicho Station on the Toei Mita Line.