I’d seen St Bernardus Tokyo beer on sale and read that it was created for the opening of a Tokyo bar, I then read that the selection of beers there is pretty awesome so thought it would be a good place to check out.
Once we’d found the bar, a little tricky in Tokyo, we immediately fell in love with the place. It has a wonderfully authentic brasserie feel and a lively atmosphere; it was completely full of locals which made it’s Belgianess feel less out of place.
As they were out of the St Bernardus Tokyo special we first ordered a round of Abt, on tap, naturally. This is a beer that seems to grow on me every time I have it and I think it was particularly good, as it should be, from their own tap. I still think it lacks some of the complexity of the best Belgian quads but here it was wonderfully rich and warming, sweetish, thick and comforting. An excellent winter beer, if you haven’t got a woodburning stove this will warm you from inside.
For our second round we decided to sample some of the more unusual beers on the menu. As a big fan of Struise I suggested we try a couple of theirs- a Pannepot and a Tsjeeses Reserva, we also decided on one of the slightly mad Mikkeller beers, the whisky cask aged Black Hole. In fact there was no Pannepot left but as a replacement I was offered a 2008 oak aged Pannepot Reserva, exciting…
I tried the Tsjeeses Reserva first. This is a beer I’ve had in a few guises as it’s available Reserva or not and aged in a choice of barrels. On this occasion it was very tasty. It’s a strong amber beer with a medium to full body and is rich with notes of peach and apricot. It’s also an excellent way in to the richer Belgian beers and was Toby’s favourite until he’d had a good few sips of Pannepot Reserva. This is an incredible beer. More subtle and smooth than the regular Pannepot, though this may partly down to age as I’m used to drinking 2012 vintage, it has the expected thick velvety body but has all sorts of rich winey raisiny hints too. In fact the experience was a little like drinking thick, softly bubbling port. On this evening it would have been my No 1 Desert Island Beer, though it would suit the frozen north better. The Black Hole is a massively rich, thick stout. I was expecting it to be similar to a Struise Black Albert as that’s another 13% imperial stout. In fact it’s a good deal brighter, overflowing with roasted, even burnt flavours and you can really taste the whisky barrels it’s lived in. Emmet is a regular Guinness drinker and really appreciated this beer while I found it a bit too brash and aggressive, preferring smoother drinks like the aforementioned Black Albert. Still, it definitely lived up to Mikkeller’s experimental reputation.
This was a really excellent evening. There was a tasty thick pork pate with mini toast to go with the beer and the staff were really lovely, knowledgeable and chatty about the beer. A must visit place if you are a Belgian beer fan and find yourself in Tokyo at a loose end.