The Craft Room One Paragraph Review
While the atmosphere at The Craft Room was very Antipodean and geared towards snowboarders and surfers more than craft beer fans, the prices and warm atmosphere couldn’t be beaten in Nozawa Onsen. There aren’t many options to drink craft beer so the owners must be praised for having cheap prices with tax included and a decent range of beers. The free wifi and computer available means you can read BeerTengoku and update your Untappd beer list as you relax while it snows, or rains in our case, in the warm. The Craft Room is fully non-smoking and also does not have any table charges. The strange opening hours and times though were confusing though as not even the bar staff could guarantee if the bar was going to be open or not.
The Craft Room Full Review
In recent years, Nozawa Onsen has seen a massive upsurge with tourists coming for the snow that can last well into May and also has one of the largest areas in Honshu. However, craft beer has been difficult to find outside of convinis and small souvenir, omiyage in Japanese, shops. The Craft Room opened in December 2011 and is a seasonal bar unfortunately which means it’s only open during the skiing and snowboarding season. It’s owned by the Schneider Hotel group across the road and is located less than a minute from the Nagasaka gondola in Nozawa Onsen.
Walking into the bar was like stepping into The Crafty Bull in Brisbane, Australia a few years back – very much an Antipodean atmosphere, which being British meant I was going to have some serious jokes coming my way. Unfortunately, none of that happened as everyone was too busy doing shots of Jaegermeister and complaining about the snow conditions at the top of Yunomine and Yamabiko. There was plenty of space in the bar, with about eight seats at the counter and five tables dotted around, along with one that was right in the way of the dart board. Less said about the darts the better…
There are eight taps at The Craft Room, though two are for Kirin Ichiban and also Kirin Chu-hi. The others are for Japanese craft beer, with the occasion imported beer too, and are a variety of styles. Beers come in one size, which is US pint (473ml) unless it’s a strong beer that you order, but then all prices include tax. Unfortunately, I went at the end of the season so once the beers had run out, they weren’t being replaced with anything else. Two of the beers, the Nozawa Summer Ale and the Powder Keg Porter are brewed at Brimmer Brewing in Kanagawa. The menu was already out of date when we arrived so it meant looking behind the bar to see what was on tap.
As I had already eaten at a local Michi no eki, or roadside stop, on the way to Nozawa Onsen, I wasn’t hungry but the sandwiches in the counter looked great and would have loved to have tried one. They are all freshly made and are huge. One for next time.
The Craft Room Details
Open: Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 ~ 18:00 Fri 12:00 ~ 22:00 Saturday 9:00 ~ 22:00 Sunday 9:00 ~ 19:00
Closed: Mondays and Tuesday and outside of the winter sports season
How to Get to The Craft Room
If you’re staying in Nozawaonsen-mura, The Craft Room is about ten minutes from the centre of town. If you’re on the slopes, then the closest gondola is Nagasaka and is opposite the bar.