Dry Dock, Shimbashi
A very small place located under the train track at Shimbashi, Dry Dock is one of my favourite bars in Tokyo.
How small is Dry Dock? The only way I could get a photo inside was using a 10mm Fisheye lens:
There’s standing room (just!) for about 12 downstairs; upstairs there are four tables which squeeze in another 15. Here’s a really bad photo I took with my iPhone – but it shows just how small the place is upstairs:
When it’s full, drinkers usually spill outside. It’s next to a main road and under train tracks, but beer is beer. Actually from the outside Dry Dock looks deceptively large:
What you’re seeing though is two sides of a triangle, hence the lack of space inside.
What makes Dry Dock special is that even though they only have about three or four guest beers in addition to standard fare, the guest beers are continually changing and are usually pretty interesting. A trio of Stone Ruination, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and Stone/Mikkeller/Alesmith Collaboration ale is one example; Bear Republic Racer 5, Red Rocket Ale, and Hop Rod Rye is another; Green Flash West Coast IPA, Imperial IPA, and Le Freak is another. What’s more, they are reasonably priced (1200 yen for a US pint) and always served in excellent condition (although sometimes they have a tendency to pour “Japanese style” with too much head, but they’ll always get rid of the head if tell them you want less – it’s called “awa” in Japanese).
In addition to the draught beers, there’s a fair range of hoppy import bottles – Lagunitas, Stone, etc. Sato-san who runs the bar and speaks good English is very passionate about beer, as you can often see just from looking at the photos on the Dry Dock Japanese website.
It’s very easy to get lost going to Dry Dock. From the JR station, come out the Karasumori Exit and head right, then look for the main road which runs under the train tracks. From the Ginza line, follow directions for the JR station first. From the Asakusa line, look for exit A1 - but if you can’t find it, again head for the JR station.
The map above makes it look easy, but you’ll probably still get lost. Here’s a link to Google Street View – zoom out to see the street plan.
Dry Dock is closed Sundays and public holidays, it’s also closed the 3rd Saturday of the month – the website often lists the holidays for the current month. If you know you’ll be heading for Dry Dock, it’s worth phoning and reserving a table upstairs – it’s 500 yen a head (no charge downstairs) but worth it to be able to sit down and relax. Food is easier to eat when you’re sitting too! The phone number is 03-5777-4755.
My opinion? It can be a bit of a squeeze in there, but Dry Dock has some excellent beers in good condition and at reasonable prices, and it’s smoke free (the staff would never survive if it wasn’t!) The chicken and chips basket is very tasty too. One of my regular haunts.