Beer Rock

Beer Rock

The name says it all at this Shimokita bar


Originally published on on September 2009

Courtesy of Beer Rock

Courtesy of Beer Rock

There should be an award for this kind of thing. In a city that’s crowded with establishments promising more than they can possibly deliver—be it Shot Bar Nude, Bar Eden, Heaven or Brilliant—it’s gratifying to find somewhere that does exactly what it says on the tin. Sure, the owners weren’t exactly setting the bar high with “beer” and “rock,” but this watering hole more than satisfies on both counts.

Beer Rock occupies a second-floor spot just a few minutes from Shimokitazawa station, and a slack-wristed stone’s throw from local institution Heaven’s Door. The bar’s proximity to such a well-established foreigner haunt might explain why, when we visited on a Saturday night, the clientele was exclusively Japanese. So was the menu, although apparently there’s an English one in the works.

Rock LPs line the walls, and there’s a prominently positioned AC/DC poster by the windows, but on the whole this is a joint for rockers with more than a basic grasp of personal hygiene. Heck, they even invite families to book it for parties. The soundtrack is all heavy guitar riffs, with the occasional Steely Dan number thrown in to leaven the mood, and customers are welcome to make requests. There’s also a bona fide poker table and an old-school cork dart board, which makes a pleasant change from those tacky machines you get everywhere else.

Drinkers can take their pick from seven beers on tap, which are confusingly offered in US or imperial pints according to the tipple. Kikuchi Brewery’s well-regarded Hitachino Nest Beer is a regular fixture here, with a rotating selection of its various incarnations on offer. The Weizen was a bit too honeylike for our tastes, but the Japanese Classic Ale went down a treat, instantly transporting us back to the musty English pubs of our misspent youth (both ¥950 for a US pint, ¥750 for a 330ml glass). The Yona Yona Real Ale (imperial pint ¥950, half-pint ¥650) also comes recommended.

Beer Rock’s selection of bottles includes plenty of good stuff from the USA, UK, Germany and Belgium, be it Rogue Dead Guy Ale (¥900), Samuel Smith Taddy Porter (¥1,000), Köstritzer (¥850) or Chimay White (¥1,000). If you’d prefer to keep things local, there’s also an entire section devoted to Japanese craft brewers: Minoh, Hakusekikan, Shigakogen and Iwate Kura (bottles ¥900-¥1,100 each). Oh, and plenty of cocktails and what-have-you, but why would you want to drink something like that?

The food menu includes salads, pastas and tacos. Being in more of a snacking mood, we ordered some avocado dip (¥650), which was surprisingly great, especially when compared to the nondescript gloop that passes for guacamole at most bars in Tokyo. The “Beer Rock Fried Potatoes” (¥700), on the other hand, were just plain surprising—in that, well, they come whole rather than sliced. That minor hiccup aside, Beer Rock succeeded in doing exactly what we were expecting it to—and doing it well.

Beer Rock marks its 1st anniversary on Sep 10. ¥600 pints all night. Ooh, we like that.