Reviews & info on some beers, bars & pubs in Japan (mainly Tokyo/Yokohama area) - with an extra large serving of nonsensical jibbbbah jabbah thrown in:

Monday, 19 December 2011

Good Beer Faucets' opening night.

Note: this is not a review, merely a report on last night.
Expect a more in depth review/verdict later on - they've only just opened!


Last night (18th December, 2011) was the grand opening night for Good Beer Faucets, the latest craft beer bar to hit Tokyo.
This was the one many people have been talking about for over a month, since they announced the opening night.
With a lot of hype and taking into account who's bar it was (the incredible engineering skills of Hori san and the latest rock star fantastic beer/food/manager virtuoso Dede - formerly with Yokohama Cheers and Roppongi Roti's), expectations were high. Everyone was excited.
It seemed that everyone and their friends turned up all at the same time!
Man, it was packed in there.

Good Beer Faucets is a few minutes walk from Shibuya station, just past the Bunkamura building.
Outside Good Beer Faucets
Yes, there's a Family Mart directly downstairs. I wonder how many tight arsed Welshme-I mean people will be popping down there for a quick and cheap bento, between pints?

Walking in, the first thing you notice is the cool looking interior, dominated by the 'U shaped' bar and counter. 
Good, long, U shaped bar.
Then you can't help but notice those incredibly shiny, brand spanking new stainless steel taps, or faucets (hence the name). Man, it looks good.
Love those shiny new stainles steel handpumps!
There are stools to provide seating at (what reminded me of a sushi restaurant) the main bar.
Everything is very angular and square looking but clean and immaculate. Just the right height too, for most of us.
Shiny, new, happy.
Being opening night, the place was PACKED. Seriously. This proved to test the system to the max, as many endured waiting times of 40-50minutes for their beers or even longer just to place an order, as nobody seemed to know the system (at times, it seemed that included the staff!). not the best first impression, I have to say.
As expected, it was PACKED, opening night.

Just gotta love this floor diagram.

Luckily, I was at the main bar and I knew Dede, who was working literally flat out, doing what seemed to be everything and fixing things on the fly, talking to customers, pulling pints, answering questions, guiding staff... ...it was amazing to watch the man in action. All the time staying cool, calm and professional. I'd equate what he did last night to juggling 4 chainsaws and a pair of kittens and no, no animals were harmed during the entire performance.

The man helped us out on several occasions and took orders, poured and served beer expertly.
Pity we couldn't say the same for everyone else. 
Many weren't happy that they had to wait extended times, waiting for the staff who were walking around with iPads and iPhones, using a computerised ordering system that was new to everyone. 
A hint at their new system, using data from the iphone/pad entries.  Interesting.
To be fair, you mix a brand new system for ordering and payment with a super busy FIRST night (for staff, as well as customers, let's not forget) and there is going to be a little confusion and kinks will appear that need ironing out.
Luckily Hori san and Dede were on task, each time.
Engineering genius Hori san, doing his stuff.
 The staff handled things okay, considering some of them seemed a bit lost. Working in a bar that also get's insanely busy, I felt for them at times. Still, it did take a LONG time to get served, then to wait for the beer to arrive. Even longer than the wait at Popeyes (oooh! Heresy!!!! How DARE you!).

Again, thank goodness Dede was near by. Otherwise I might have collapsed, due to thirst. Of course the adjustment that needed to be done, taking into account the extra waiting time was to double fist, which myself and my friend did. That helped, but still we were left waiting, between double fistings.
While I had about a cm of beer left, a staff member came to take my not quite empty glass. I grabbed it back, politely saying I hadn't finished (there was still beer in the glass! - I wasn't fast enough though to prevent a female member of staff nicking the unfinished pint just before that! - cheeky!). He asked me if I was ready to order. I again politely informed him that I had ordered more than 20 minutes ago and will probably have to wait another 20mins for my beer, if the evening was anything to go by, which was why I was stretching my pint out as long as I could. We both laughed over it. What else can you do?
Opening night blues.

My biggest concern of the night was not the 400ml 'pints' (At least they advertised the volume in the menus and weren't trying to be sneaky like certain other bars- fair enough), neither the long waiting times. We have to remember it's only the first night and it was PACKED.
No, it was the inconsistency in the pours.
Dede poured beers very well (just the one time I had to ask for less head and he never forgot after that, fair play) but some of the pints I saw put out for delivery were, quite frankly, shocking.
'Slight' inconsistencies on opening night. Some  beers were sent out like this.
Here, in the photo above,  you can see there is a hell of a difference between those two pints. I know which one I'd rather have!!!! Hard to believe anyone would accept a 'pint' like that. I sent one pint back as soon as I saw it was at least 45% head. I would assume that this is certainly not Beer Faucets' policy, just the naivety of the new staff, who at times seem to need a little instruction - again, first night for them, as well as us. I'd expect things to change, even as soon as tonight. I know in Japan, bars often serve beer with large head but at times last night it was verging on ridiculous. Again, I'm sure the staff weren't aware there was a problem. As more and more people mentioned it though, things did appear to get better. I'm sure things have changed now. Dede was aware by the end of the evening and I'm 100% positive things will have improved by now.
'Slight' inconsistencies again. These beers are ready to go out.
A classic example is pictured below. My friend, Emily, had this beer in her hands and I asked her how it was. She replied that she hadn't actually had any yet - this was how it arrived.
"Dude, where's my beer?"
Acceptable? Certainly not.
I advise everyone to mention whilst ordering that you do not require 40% head (or a glass with 40% of your beer missing). Seriously though, ask for less head and there is a good chance you'll get that - if that's what you want. I would be VERY SURPRISED if I went back tonight and things were the same. Part of a new place's first night is work out the kinks and fix them. There were certainly a few kinks but I think the positives outweighed any negatives. The biggest positives, for me are Dede and Hori san.
Both men know their stuff. I'm sure if they had more time to prepare better, they would have. At least they opened on target.
Nothing wrong with this pint (apart from the size - 400ml).


Then there's the really cool bar, the location, the beer selection, the beer quality and I'm sure the food (if Dede's history & reputation is anything to go by.
All pints poured or finished by Dede - lovely. 
  
All in all, first night niggles/difficulties aside, I feel this is going to be/is a great bar. As long as the staff get used to the system fast and learn to pour beer with consistency, I don't see many problems.
Price wise, it's average for Shibuya. Seemingly pricier than Aldgate but not as pricy as Cataratas.
Volume wise, their pints aren't US or UK pint sizes, but they do show the volume in ml in the menu.
I had no opportunity to try or see the food but I'm confident it will be very, very good.
Dede was the man, all night. He stayed calm and professional and did his job and then some.
I'm looking forward to what this new bar can bring to the Craft Beer community.
Brand spanking new. Good beer, good food.
Verdict is still out on this bar as it's too soon to tell but it certainly has potential. With the ineviatable kinks that happen on a packed opening night sorted out (they should be), this could be a good one.

  
Dede was non stop - like a man posessed. He da man!
p.s. Some friends and I soon retired to the always reliable Aldgate (get served in less than a minute) and were not so surprised to meet quite a few there who also left Beer Faucets, not exactly over enamoured with their first impressions.
Ironically, this is where more than a few of us ended up - Good old Aldgate. 
Hey, it's early doors yet.
Pluses and minuses on opening night. They will only get better. Just wait and see.

Check it out, if you can.

5 comments:

  1. Like many, I've spent the last month or so watching pictures of the place grow from nothing to being gutted to initial installations to advertising for positions available, etc. etc. etc.

    All along I'd always wondered, "Aren't they rushing it a bit? Why the 'Have to Open so Soon?'" Looks like they should have exercised more patience, get it - and the pours - right. First impressions are unforgettable, and often the kiss o'life or death. ;)

    I'm glad I couldn't make it to the opening, and am looking forward to the time I do eventually go. Hopefully, they'll be better rehearsed by then.

    Nice write up, Chuwy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Lee. Never easy to provide evidence of stuff like this without wondering how people will take it. I like the place but last night did not really go for how the beer was served. a lot of beer was wasted by one member of staff especially (who I am not going to name). At times it was ridiculous. That was my biggest surprise. Other stuff will be fixed in time, no worries. Perhaps it's cultural perception in overdrive but to be fair, as soon as I asked for less head, they were pretty good about it. I was just surprised I had to ask. Not just once.
    I'll definitely be going back and looking forward to it. I'll try the food as well, next time. Now we just have to wait for their website to b up and running, as of today, it's just a main page with no information, not even a map. Another indicator they might have opened too soon.

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