Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Home Bar Review Shinobazu Brewery in Ueno, Tokyo

Shinobazu Brewery in Ueno, Tokyo

by Rob
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Shinobazu Brewery : The Bottom Line

Shinobazu Brewery is a nice alternative to a place like Towa The World’s End Craft Beer and Sake and Soba, with its quirky admiration for sheep, though the beers do need some work on them to ensure that they really are worth paying the price. The whole place is non-smoking, has no table charge, and also some free wifi, so you can perhaps plot a route out of the bar, back to the station that ignores all the hostesses and strip bars trying to get your drunken money.

Shinobazu Brewery : The Full Review

Shinobazu Brewery has been on the BeerTengoku radar for a while now as for a long time, Ueno suffered from being left out of the craft beer boom in Japan. Though it has a couple of bars, it seemed that the stations either side of Ueno – Okachimachi and Uguisudani – have made strides into getting bars and breweries in the area. There is no reason why Ueno couldn’t be a hub in the north eastern area of the Yamanote line – there are always foreigners in the area and commuters who pass through the station. When Shinobazu Brewery opened in December 2021, there wasn’t much fanfare about it – guessing that openeing a brewery during a pandemic isn’t such a great idea though it has come out relatively unscathed.

Shinobazu Brewery is located in the Shinobazu area of Ueno, which is about a 5 minute walk from Keisei Ueno station, and then around 8 minutes from Ueno station’s south exit. If you don’t know the Shinobazu area, just make sure you go straight and ignore the hostesses that are dotted along the side of the world, and the burly bouncers blocking off the strip bars – it was certainly an interesting experience considering it was 4 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Perhaps hoping for the early crowd?

Shinobazu Brewery : Atmosphere & Interior

If you hadn’t guessed from the outside, Shinobazu Brewery is a brewpub with perhaps an unhealthy obsession for sheep that would put even a New Zealander or Welsh person to shame. The bar is covered with sheep – on posters, as a guard for the hand sanitiser as you come in, models of sheep, sheep on the pint glasses, even sheep on the wooden masu that are used for drinking sake. It’s kind of worrying though but it all makes sense when you see the food menus, more about that later.

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In terms of seating, there is space for around 30 people inside, with 10 people at counter seating and then around 20 people at various configurations at the tables around the bar. There is also apparently a private room for parties, though I don’t know how large that is. The whole place is non-smoking and also has no table charge either. For those wanting wifi, the details are posted on some small clipboards that are next to your seat, and are also used to order from with the QR code linking to a digital menu – useful if you don’t speak Japanese or perhaps feeling anti-social and just want to get to ordering beers and food.

Shinobazu Brewery : Beer & Tap Information

Seeing as Shinobazu Brewery is a brewpub, it would make sense for them to have taps of their own beer on, for which they do, but out of the 8 taps on, 4 were their own beers, with 3 guest craft beers, and then a macro lager in the form of Asahi Super Dry, so you can bring your non-craft beer drinking friends along – maybe even convince them to try something with flavour perhaps? The beers come in two sizes : regular (240 ml) from 750 yen, and large (470 ml) from 1,080 yen, with prices including tax. Annoyingly enough, the paper menu didn’t list anything about a happy hour or beer flights, but the digitial menu does – there is a three 125 ml beer flight for 1,080 yen, that let’s you pick any three beers on the menu, and also an all you can drink plan. There is also the option for some takeaway beers, a good idea considering you have Ueno Park mere minutes away from Shinobazu Brewery.

In terms of how the beers were, well the pouring was not great to be honest though the staff did top up the beers when asked to. The beers aren’t going to blow you away though they are drinkable with my personal preference being the Sunny Side White – a nice refreshing beer, while the Brown Ale was supposed to be an American IPA – so why call it a Brown Ale, which was rather confusing.

Shinobazu Brewery : Food Information

Let’s get this out of the way – if you’re vegan, even vegetarian, there’s probably nothing on the menu at Shinobazu Brewery for you to eat. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is based around incorporating lamb in one way or another. No fish and chips here, but instead lamb and chips. There is so much lamb on the menu, that any New Zealander or Welsh person that comes here will probably feel like home. It was an impressive range of food on the menu and also every part of the lamb seems to get used up.

The menus were in Japanese, though with Shinobazu Brewery using digital menus, you could always use Google Translate on your phone to get the English names, though helpfully there are pictures on the menu alongside the calorific content of each dish. Flip the paper menu over, and you also get a list of parts of the sheep, and also their nutritional content, some good education for when you’re drinking and eating here.

Shinobazu Brewery : Bar Information

Shinobazu Brewery : Location

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