Earlier this week, one of my co-workers came by with a flier for a new spot that had just opened up in Ginza: Asahi’s Extra Cold Bar. The concept is that they serve beer (Asahi Super Dry only) chilled to -2℃ and… well, that’s about it, really. The selling point is that since Tokyo gets ridiculously hot during the summer, a super-chilled beer should be just the thing.
So on Friday a few of us decided to give it a try and headed on down to Chuo-dori. We arrived to find the bar packed and a 30-minute line of people waiting to get in. Not having anything better to do, we decided to wait it out, and soon enough we were inside and enjoying our sub-freezing beer.
So what does it taste like? Nothing.
Chill something down that far and the taste buds simply don’t react to it. It had the same smell and after-taste as regular Asahi Super Dry, but during the actual drinking there was no flavor at all. Also, while the glass was extremely cold, the beer itself didn’t feel all that much colder than a regular chilled draft beer. Still, after a day at the office enduring 38 ° August weather because the air conditioning has been shut down as part of this year’s energy-saving measures (what with four reactors going tits-up) , I could see the appeal. Still, there wasn’t nearly enough space for all the people who wanted to come in, and the only reason we were willing to stand outside and wait for half an hour is because the weather last night was so mild. Had it actually been the kind of day that would make one want a beer so cold it shuts down your tongue, we would have taken one look at the massive line snaking around the corner and headed for the nearest pub with climate control and room-temperature English ale.
On the other hand, the staff are very friendly and the food is excellent. The background music is low enough that you can have conversations with the people at your table without raising your voice. As an added attraction, they offer a free (well, for the cost of a beer) bartending mini-course where one of their bartenders shows you how to do a proper pour, after which you receive a card certifying you as a Draft Meister.
All in all, it wasn’t bad but I don’t think I’ll bother heading back. There are already plenty of bars closer to my office and my home that serve beer cold enough to meet my needs, all without having to stand in line. If you’re in the neighborhood you might want to check it out, but last order is at 10:30 so don’t expect to get in if it’s the third stop on your pub crawl. Beers are 550 yen for a half-pint (quite expensive for an Asahi Super Dry), snacks are 250-450. The Extra Cold Bar will only be open until August 31.