In case you didn’t know, Asahi and Kirin aren’t the only beers produced in Japan. I’m not saying Asahi and Kirin aren’t delicious, but local Japanese microbrewers are producing some of the tastiest beers in the world, which you might not be able to find elsewhere. Since my first trip to Japan in 2014, the craft beer scene has exploded! In addition to delicious local beers, you can also locate some of the best craft beer producers in the world in bars around Tokyo.
In no particular order, here are some of my favourites:
One of the biggest names in the craft beer scene, Mikkeller out of Copenhagen, Denmark has its own shopfront in the backstreets of Shibuya. Hang downstairs for a great view of the street or go upstairs for a quieter experience. Offering 20 taps, which can change daily, with beers not only from Mikkeller, but other massive international craft beer brewers like Stillwater Artisanal and ToØl. You can check out their daily tap list on their website – but be sure to pop in to see what other tasty treats are on offer.
Just around the corner from Mikkeller is Good Beer Faucets. With 40 taps, focusing on Japanese and American craft beer, you’ll definitely find something to suit your taste buds here! House beers brewed by Nide include the Monster C IPA, an American Style IPA which packs a punch at 7%, or for something different try the GBF Yuzu Dream, a yuzu berlin-weisse (sour wheat beer) – slightly sour and tart, very sessionable. With LONG happy hours (Mon-Thurs 4-8pm, Sun 3-8pm) – all beers at 200Yen off, what more convincing do you need?
Yoho Brewing Company have taprooms all over Tokyo. A particularly convenient location is directly across from the VR Zone in Shinjuku. An arcade where you can play virtual reality video games. A perfect combination – craft beer and Mario kart (in virtual reality!). Try my favourite, the Yona Yona Ale (an American Pale Ale at 5.5%) and look out for the special batch seasonal beer releases.
(not a bar!)
This liqour store stocks packaged craft beer from around the world, as well as locally brewed delights. Their range is incredible – NEIPAs, sour fruit beers, IPAs or stock standard pale ales – they have it all. While they are NOT a bar, they offer a “paid tasting” service for groups of 1 or 2. Purchase up to 3 beers and they have a small standing area and will offer you a glass so you can try them in-store, for a time limit of 30 mins. A great shop to check out in Shimokitazawa.
This is a perfect craft beer pre-drinking spot for the Robot Restaurant, also located in Shinjuku (which is a must do in Tokyo!). They offer tasting flights, 4 x 100ml for ¥1000 of both local and imported beers. This is a great way to try lots of different local beers, and at a reasonable price by Tokyo standards. They post their beers each day on their website – check it out here.
Conveniently located just off Takashitadori Street, Baird Taprooms, by Baird Brewing Company, is a great stop on your craft beer tour of Tokyo. This is a traditional izakaya-yakitori style pub, offering craft beer from one of the most well known brewers in the Japan scene – not to be missed!
Another craft beer place in Shinjuku. Here you can choose from 20 taps featuring local and Scandinavian craft beer, including their own OLSO brews. They also offer tasting flights (any beers of your choice), to maximise your tasting opportunities.
One of my first introductions to Japanese craft beer, Minoh Brewery holds a special place in my heart. A father-daughter team, riding the ups and downs of the craft beer scene and the hard task of brewing generally, these guys brew some of my favourite beers in all of Japan. The pub is located about 40 minutes out of Osaka. Trust me, this is a craft beer pilgrimage worth taking. Their 2017 international brewing award winning W-IPA is dangerously delicious at 9%.
Want to make your Tokyo trip even better? Check out my favourite ramen in Tokyo here.