Tap & Growler The Bottom Line
If you want a place that has lots of beers on tap for you to tick off in your Untappd and don’t mind the price, then Tap & Growler is highly recommended. It’s important to remember that Tap & Growler is primarily a place for you to pick up some beer to takeaway in a growler, or maybe some bottles instead. Tap & Growler goes so much to remind you that it’s not a place for drinking in by only having some basic pub snacks instead of meals, though you are allowed to bring your own food in. Though the prices are high, tax is included in the price and there is also no table charge. The owner speaks English and has also set up free WiFi too. The whole place is non-smoking, but a first for us at BeerTengoku, e-cigarettes are allowed.
Growlers & Japan – A small rant
Growlers. Now, if you wouldn’t mind me having a small ramble here, then carry on. Else, skip to the main body of the review using this handy link here. Kickstarter had something called a uKeg on its site a few years back, and no doubt if you’ve met me, you’ve heard me complain, and also praise it. Eventually, after about a two-year wait, I got mine – all fresh and shiny and coppery and sparkling new – only to find next to nowhere in Japan would fill it up. The laws for licensing in Japan mean that the majority of bars are only allowed to see beers to drink on site and not takeaway beers. This explains many many things – such as why few bars sell bottled beers or why so few allow off plastic cups of beer to be taken away. I can think of two places that have allow growler fills – Liquor Shop Night Owl in Ebisu, Tokyo and also Antenna American Kannai.
So having a growler in Japan has also seemed like a futile exercise too – the trains are ubiquitous for their punctuality, cleanliness, and running after many bars have closed. And if not, grab a taxi at the station to take you home. Just don’t do it from Tokyo to somewhere near Yokohama else it will cost you a LOT of money! Unlike in the States where many breweries require a drive, their simply isn’t a need for growlers if you can get home safely.
Anyone want a uKeg then?
Tap & Growler The Full Review
Bottle shops are perhaps the new fad in Japanese drinking after brewpubs. Customers can buy some beers, bottle charges can be added on, shops make money. However, Tap & Growler differs from the others by placing a firm emphasis on growlers – containers that can be used to transport beer fresh from the keg. Some keep the beer cold, some keep the beer carbonated, some are just used to transport beer and it must be consumed soon after filling. Growlers can be made of glass (easily broken and heavy), plastic (single use but depending on the plastic, can let out CO2), or metal (needs to be cleaned properly every single time).
Tap & Growler opened in March 2018 in the Shimo-Kitazawa area of Tokyo – fast becoming one of the main craft beer areas of Tokyo. At the time of writing, the area was home to seven bars and bottle shops within a 5 minute radius of the redeveloped station. Perhaps an area for a bar crawl? Tap & Growler is primarily a place for you to get some beers to takeaway – unless you have some seriously deep pockets or money to burn, I doubt you will sit here for a drinking session.
It’s located about four minutes to the north of Shimo-Kitazawa station on one of the back alleys but as soon as you get in the area, signs are posted. Tap & Growler is a small place, with 5 seats at the counter and another 6 located at tables along the wall, so be prepared to cosy up to someone or for standing. As such, Tap & Growler has no table charge and is also non-smoking. However, that last point is stretching things as it’s the first time for BeerTengoku to come across a place that allows e-cigarettes – another fashionable boom in Japan. Depending on how you feel about them, Tap & Growler could either be on your list of places, or not. There is also free WiFi, with signs around the shop letting you know the password.
Beers. Tap & Growler had a great range of beers when we went, with 19 taps of craft beer on, though the 19th one was a special tap, so it’s uncertain whether it’s in continual usage or not. If you’re drinking in, the beers come in one size – half US pint (240ml) with prices from ¥600 to ¥960. So for those people that do want to splurge some cash, come along to Tap & Growler and buy some beers. There doesn’t seem to be much rationalization behind the prices – it’s not based on rarity, or strength of the beer, or the distance the beer has had to travel. Perhaps the price of the keg bought? All the prices include tax though. There is also a beer fridge where you can get bottles to takeaway, or drink in.
But if you’re at Tap & Growler then you’re probably thinking about the growlers. You can either bring in your own marked growler, i.e it has to be have official lines of volumes on it for licensing purposes, or pick one up in the bar. The growlers provided by Tap & Growler come in two sizes – 32oz (945ml so about two US pints) at ¥1350 and 64oz (1890 so about four US pints) at ¥1860. Both require you to buy a ¥30 lid as well. The containers can only hold the respective amounts, so no 32oz servings in a 64oz bottle apparently. For a 32oz growler, prices range from ¥1460 to ¥2920, while for a 64oz, prices range from ¥2670 to ¥4860. There are also some DrinksTanks growlers for sale as well, but those cost upwards of ¥15,000, so you’d better really like your beer for that.
Because Tap & Growler is primarily a bottle shop and growler room, there is no food on offer besides some small bar snacks. If you do stay for a session, then you can bring in your own food, or order using the menus inside the place, which is then delivered. From time-to-time, burritos are on sale in the bottom of the beer fridge, but it’s quite random as to when they are on sale.
Tap & Growler Details
Open: Weekdays 18:00-24:00 Weekends & Holidays 15:00-21:00
Happy Hour: None
How to Get to Tap & Growler
The closest station to Tap & Growler is Shimo-Kitazawa on the Odakyu Main Line and Keio Inokashira Line. It’s about a four minute walk to the shop.