As soon as I heard that Koenji had Craft Beer Market Koenji, then I whisked off my codrinker from Cafe Bankan in search of this place. Why did I decide to do that I hear you wonder? Well, Cafe Bankan had pretty much everything I wanted in a craft beer bar: atmosphere, beer (most importantly) and some great food but it didn’t have the prices and was smoking place. I’m loathed to pay over a ¥1,000 a pint when I can help it. It’s not that I’m cheap or a skinflint it’s more a case of I want some bang for my buck, and where else can you find that besides at a Craft Beer Market. (Editor: Craft Beer Bar iBrew, Transit, and Thrash Zone).
If you don’t know or have never been to a Craft Beer Market branch then a quick recap: it’s a chain of craft beer bars across Tokyo. Simple as that. The selection of craft beer is always great, as most of them have 20+ taps with prices from ¥480 for a glass to ¥770 for a pint. All prices include tax so you know what you are getting for your money. The most peculiar thing is the table charge – sometimes you get one, sometimes you don’t and there is no explanation as to why.
Enough jibber-jabber – you came here for beer and beer is what you shall get. The menu at Craft Beer Market Koenji during lunch slightly differed to other times during the day as the branch offers special three-beers tasting sets for ¥980 with each being 150ml though the beers are decided by the manager of the store. Craft Beer Market Koenji had just come off the back of a US invasion of craft beer but there were still plenty of Japanese craft beers to have.
One of the best things I love about Craft Beer Market is the range of smaller Japanese microbreweries you can find, in particular, beers from other regions of Japan you might not have heard of. I was in the mood for some variety so Preston Pale Ale was followed by a Mojiko Retro Beer Weizen then a 10ants Fourth Dimension. Never heard of 10ants? Neither had we until this. The bar staff explained the concept of a phantom brewery and how 10ants doesn’t have a defined brewing location, a la Mikkeller from Denmark. An interesting concept and one I am looking forward to trying more of.
The food at Craft Beer Market Koenji is pretty much the same as the other branches we’ve been to though the lunch specials of BBQ spare ribs for ¥980 couldn’t entice us, no matter how good they smelled. So some simple chips that turned out to be a massive portion after some (drunken) confusion on our parts. Craft Beer Market Koenji is also non-smoking which is always a big plus point (not that we’re anti-smoking but I like to smell my beers without the aroma of tobacco.)
Craft Beer Market Koenji One Paragraph Review
If you’ve been to one Craft Beer Market then you should know what you are getting yourself in for. A great selection of well-priced Japanese craft beer in a chilled out environment. Is it worth trekking out to Koenji for it though? Not if you live in central Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, or Kanagawa as there are more conveniently located ones. Still, if you’re doing a craft beer crawl in Koenji, then it’s worth popping in just to reduce the spending. A bit. The only problem I can see with Craft Beer Market is the annoying table charge system.
Craft Beer Market Koenji Details
Open: Monday to Friday 17:00 ~ 23:30 Weekends / Holidays Lunch: 12:00 ~ 16:00 Dinner 16:00 ~ 23:30 (L.O Food 22:30 Drinks 23:00)
Homepage (in Japanese): http://www.craftbeermarket.jp/store_koenji.html
How to Get To Craft Beer Market Koenji
Craft Beer Market Koenji can be reached using the JR Chuo line which stops at Koenji station. It’s about a five-minute walk out of the north exit.