Half way between Roppongi and Shibuya, just off Roppongi-dori, I must have walked past Grail at least 100 times in the past three years.

Grail British Pub

Grail British Pub

I’ve not avoided the place as such, but I’ve never gone in. That’s partially because it’s half way on the walk home and far from any stations, so I’ve wanted to continue walking home, and partly because it looks like it might be a weird Japanese style British bar with a cover charge. Last night I finally decided to give it a try.

Surprisingly there was no cover change. Beer on tap was Guinness, Malts, Stella, and Hoegaarden. They also had Boddingtons in cans. That’s it. Certainly not a bar for the craft beer lovers. And when it came to pouring the Hoegaarden, they poured it without head and then pushed the tap back to generate head – not the best way to pour Hoegaarden! (For the benefit of those who don’t live in Japan, Japanese beer taps full forward to pour the beer and backward to pour a huge helping of foam head.)

But despite the mediocre beer, Grail had a suprise up its sleeve – it has possibly the best Fish & Chips I’ve had in Tokyo!

Until now Warrior Celt in Ueno had the best fish and chips in Tokyo – now its a very close call. Both bars make the batter fresh and dip the fish before serving, which gives it a wonderful fresh crispy taste. Warrior Celt probably wins overall on price, but for taste, both places are pretty close. I never expected food that good at Grail.

One thing to watch out for though – the guy next to me (whose dish had inspired me to order the Fish & Chips) got string French Fries as his chips, but I was given potato wedges. When I asked them to exchange them for French Fries, they did so without hassle. They turned up later on my bill as an extra though, but again they removed it without hassle. So if you’re going to order the Fish & Chips, make sure you ask for it with French Fries, and if you do have to exchange them, make sure you check your bill.

On balance, despite the so-so beers, I’d go back here for the Fish and Chips.

After the food. I continued the walk back to Shibuya. There, I decided to pop into Cataratas for a different Grail – The Holy Grail of beers:

Partially consumed Ruination in Cataratas

Partially consumed Ruination in Cataratas

In honesty, from lack of sleep last night I was half falling asleep – but Cataratas had kept their promise of mailing me when they put on Ruination, so I had to at least show my face and have one pint.

Beers currently on tap there are:

  • Stone Ruination 7.7% – UK half pint 1000 yen, US pint 1500 yen
  • Piraat Ale 10.5% – 330ml 1400 yen
  • Fullers ESB 5.9% – half pint 800 yen, pint 1400yen (don’t know whether UK or US)
  • Kasteel Rouge 8% – 330ml 1400 yen
  • Hoegaarden 5% – 250ml 700 yen, 500ml 1200 yen
  • Lowenbrau 5% – 360ml 700 yen, 1000ml 1800 yen

Cataratas gets knocked a bit for it’s prices – but although Ruination at Dry Dock was 1200 yen for half a pint, Catarata’s prices are not the most expensive out there. Ruination was over 1600 yen a pint at Popeye, and a small Hoegaarden was 800 yen in Grail.

I’d love to have tried the Piraat and Kasteel Rouge, but sadly I was just too tired. I finished the Ruination and headed home.

Homebrewing wise…

The Sugary Tingly Belgian still tastes rubbish, so I think I’ll be ditching that. It proves to me that LME + sugar can’t make good beer!

Hops of Mass Destruction will have been dry hopping for 5 days today. I gave the hops a gentle prod and stir yesterday. Since there’s quite a lot of hops on top, I’m going to leave the hops a little longer than usual – maybe 6 or 7 days instead of the normal 4 or 5.

I have the grain and hops ready to make a new beer, but I still don’t have my equipment sorted out yet. Hopefully this Friday I’ll get the weldless tap and fittings I need to the plate chiller, which means the weekend will be partially spent drilling my pot and buying tubing. I wont have my new mash-tun until next weekend but if I get the pot drilled, weldless tap filler, and plate chiller setup, maybe I’ll try a small half batch – something Imperial.