The Cat & Cask Tavern

The first thing you notice through the window are the Union Jack pennants. So it’s a British pub, then. After you enter, your eye moves from one tchotchke to another. There’s the Will and Kate Royal Wedding Banner, the little shelf containing two Queen Elizabeth mugs, a figurine where Queen Elizabeth gives her beer swilling subjects a royal wave (the hand on the figurine actually rotates back and forth) and, adorably, a bobble head doll of one of her Corgis with the head perpetually . . . well, bobbling. Although I think we all agree that if there’s any part of a Welsh Corgi that should be bobbling, it should be its cute little tail nub (unless the tail was docked; Beereast does not endorse tail docking). Fitting, then, that the music in the bar when we sat down was a DVD of a Queen concert. I miss Freddie Mercury . . .

They have Marmite & Crackers on the menu, reminding me of Marmite-Vegemite Theater every time you mention one or the other in a group containing Brits and Aussies. Eternal enemies, as hotly contested as The Ashes. Anyway, as an American, my unbiased and completely unsolicited vote would go to . . . peanut butter. USA! USA! The only real debate is creamy versus crunchy.

Anyhoo, on to the beer. Our first pint (UK size, natch) was a Kisoji (木曽路) Pale Ale. Drinkable. Styled as a real ale, it had that metallic hop flavor at first with a fruit finish. Pleasant, but unfortunately, it faded as we worked our way down the pint and didn’t leave much of an impression in the end. An argument for smaller serving sizes.

We got an Iberico Ham pate. Tasted like corned beef to me, but I love corned beef. The fries were fine.

Next, we had a Scotch Ale from Isekadoya (伊勢角屋). Seven percent alcohol, and when we both ordered the UK pint, the proprietor, a lovely dude named Wayne, wanted to make sure we really wanted that much. We confirmed, and joked, “Man, of course a full pint. He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.” Famous last words. Given that we hadn’t eaten a lot, by the time we finished, I actually started to get a bit drunk. On my second pint! Shame . . .

The beer itself was ok. It was very sweet, and tasted of honey. Very slight peatiness on the finish, which I was told is characteristic of Scottish ales. Not much of an aroma at all.

There were only four beers on tap, and given my aforementioned tipsiness, rather than trying both, we each ordered one of the remaining two. The Minoh Pale Ale was quite hoppy, almost as hoppy as an IPA. The Brimmer Golden Ale had a little funky yeastiness on the nose. Lots of barley and malt. A little spice on the finish. But really, it was like drinking breakfast cereal. And not the fun, fruity kind, but the kind you start eating because your doctor prescribed more fiber in your diet.

Speaking of Brimmer, sadly (despite my tepid feelings toward its Golden Ale), Wayne informed us that the Brimmer Beer Box was no more, which was a shock to my buddy because he had just walked by the place a couple weeks ago. It was part of a complex of containers converted to storefronts; its neighbor was a pretty good fried chicken place. You were able to take the stairs to the roof which looked over Aoyama-dori, which made it a nice place to chill when the weather was nice. The landlord wanted to convert the land into a parking lot, which is both tragic and utterly unsurprising. I was shocked such a place existed in Omotesando to begin with, but it still makes me a little sad to see it go. One of the first places I discovered when I started roaming Tokyo looking for craft beer.

Anyway, by now the bar was almost empty, and Wayne invited us to the bar to hang out with him and chat. By now, he had an old Led Zeppelin concert on the TV, and I have to say, the concert experience has changed quite a bit since the 1970s when they were in their pomp. Robert Plant hardly sang; it was mostly Jimmy Page noodling away. When he pulled out his vaunted bow and began playing with that, it felt like I was watching someone play their guitar in their room just trying shit out on a lonely weekend afternoon. Quite intimate, but at the same time, I was thinking, “Who would want to sit through this?” It was quite hypnotic, though, which I guess was the entire point. Most of the audience was probably zonked out on the finest chemical aids of the time, just swayin’ and groovin’, man. It was shocking how quiet the crowd was. And it wasn’t like I was in a crisp state of mind either, so I found myself zoning out for long periods, my head propped up on the heel of my palm.

Which probably meant it was time to go, and so we did. Lovely little bar, the Cat & Cask. Wayne was a great host. Having only four beers on tap was a bit of a relief, actually. Choice anxiety is a thing—Radiolab said so. It’s in an interesting part of town, about a five minute walk from Kanamecho station (要町駅) on the Fukutoshin line. It’s right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. We’ll be going back.

The Cat & Cask Tavern


One thought on “The Cat & Cask Tavern

  1. Pingback: Shiga Kogen Pale Ale / Minoh Pale Ale / Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | beereast

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