Get a taste of Japanese nightlife as you hunt for Japanese craft beers! When in Japan, you can't miss out on the drinking culture (as long as you are over 20 years old, the legal drinking age), as the country is famous for a wide range of drinks, including Japanese sake, shochu, umeshu, and our focus today - Japanese craft beer.
While bar-hopping in Tokyo, it’s not difficult to find Japanese beer like Asahi and Kirin, but if you are aiming for something a bit more unique, look for craft beer! Here are 10 of the top craft beer bars in Tokyo where you can experience Japanese drinking culture and try some tasty brews.
Craft beer is a familiar term for every beer-lover. Not your ordinary mass-produced can of beer, craft beer is for those who like their drinks specially prepared by independent small batch breweries, made the traditional way. Although craft beer is a foreign concept, it echoes the Japanese spirit of craftsmanship in which the effort of local handcrafted products are valued. While craft beer is not a rare sight as you wander around the popular drinking areas, it is actually relatively new here - you might be surprised by the fact that it has only around 25 years of history in Japan!
During the mid-1990s, the Japanese government finally softened the strict restrictions on brewing licenses, which granted opportunities for the smaller breweries to enter the market. In the beginning, the development of ji-biru (local craft beer) wasn’t very successful due to the lack of experience and knowledge.
However, the craft beer industry has been flourishing since the establishment of The Craft Beer Association, and the promotion of beer festivals in various parts of Japan, including Oedo Beer Festival in Tokyo and Kyushu Beer Festival in Fukuoka, where brewers can share knowledge and improve their skills and craft beer enthusiasts can try brews from across Japan. These days, Japanese brews are highly-respected in international competitions, so now might be the best time to try out Japanese craft beer!
Here are some wonderful craft beer bars in Tokyo for a tasty pint!
Situated just next to Tokyo Tower, Kamikatz Taproom is a bar that sources from a microbrewery based in Kamikatsu on Shikoku Island. The bar’s unique interior design has clearly shown its go-green concept by furnishing with second-hand items, while the highlight is the bar counter that is crafted from a huge recycled tree trunk from Kamikatsu. The star of the show is certainly the eight taps with a variety of different styles of craft beer. The must-try craft beers are those locally sourced from Kamikatz’s own brewery, including the fruity LEUVEN WHITE flavored with local citrus fruits called yuko. The bar also provides Japanese and American guest beers on tap. As for the food selection, there are several meat options for carnivores and also a wide range of vegetarian foods.
Time: (Mon - Sat) 12:00 pm - 2:00 PM & 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm / Closed Sunday
Location: 〒106-0044 Tokyo, Minato City, Higashiazabu, 1 Chome−4−2 THE WORKERS & CO
Located at the heart of bustling Shibuya, Goodbeer Faucets offers over forty draft beers primarily from Japan and American breweries, along with 3 taps of ale and a series of bottled beers. With a great mix of local and international offerings, the starring house beers include fruity MONSTER IPA with a balance between bitterness from hops and sweetness from the malt, GBF GYARU BLOND featuring a tropical aroma of mango and mild bitterness, traditional British-style SMOKE PUMP STOUT with deep smoked flavor, and light and fruity GBF YUZU DREAM which is popular among female customers. With a seasonally changing menu, the food, ranging from light snacks to main dishes, also pairs well with the craft beers.
Time: (Mon - Thu) 4:00 pm - 12:00 am / (Fri) 4:00 pm - 1:00 am / (Sat) 3:00 pm - 12:00 am / (Sun) 3:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Location: 〒150-0046 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Shoto, 1 Chome−29−1 クロスロードビル
With over 70 beers on tap, Popeye is one of the best-known Tokyo bars and has the largest selection of craft beer and offers rare local beers from microbreweries alongside some other European and American choices. Check out their official website for daily beer selection (the list is so long, you can’t stop scrolling). The food menu might not as interesting as other bars but if you aim for the highest quality and largest collection of craft beers, this is the ideal drinking place for you!
Time: (Mon - Sat) 5:00 pm - 11.30 pm / Closed Sun
Location: 2 Chome-18-7 Ryōgoku, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0026
Located at the center of Shibuya, the pioneering craft beer bar Watering Hole provides more than 21 choices of microbrews from Japan and overseas. The price might be expensive compared to other bars in Tokyo, but take note that this popular bar is run by the famous award-winning brewer Ichiri Fujiura, who actually owns a nano-brewery inside the bar. Although the staff barely speak English, you can still ask for osusume as they are the experts in the field. There are also decent burgers and salads that make a good pairing with drinks. Look at their official site for a list of today’s beers on tap.
Time: (Mon - Sun) 3:00 pm - 11:30 pm (last orders for food 10.30 pm, drinks 11:00 pm)
Location: 〒151-0051 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Sendagaya, 5 Chome−26−5 代々木シティホームズ 103
Located at the popular drinking area Ebisu, TBE Brewing offers 10 taps of beer mainly from Japanese breweries, and even has its own brand. The name is an abbreviation of “The Best Ever” announcing its pride in providing the best quality craft beers. It is also being highly praised for serving a wide variety of bar foods, which have better-than-average quality and suit the drinks well. The bar attracts mostly Japanese tipplers - locals always know best!
Time: (Mon - Sun) 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm (Last order)
Location: Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Minami 2-1-2, Shinhori Guitar Bldg 2F
iBrew is a small but charming craft beer bar nestled in Tokyo, which provides a lovely drinking environment with the warmth from open kitchen and the dim yellowish lighting that creates a cozy atmosphere. Although it might not be spacious, the bar offers a great selection of beer on tap (mostly Japanese varieties), while the menu changes from time to time. Also the good thing about the limited space is that you can watch as the bartender prepares your drinks, and the closer distance allows for mingling.
Time: (Mon - Fri) 5:00 pm - 1:00 am (Last order 12:30 am) / (Sat, Sun & Holidays) 2:00 pm - 1:00 am (Last order 12:30 am)
Location: 〒104-0028 Tokyo, Chuo City, Yaesu, 2 Chome−11−7
Located in the nightlife area Shinbashi, this is probably the cheapest craft beer bar you can find in Tokyo - a pint could be cost less than 300 yen! The ridiculous cheap price could be explained by the bar's name: Shinshu is the ancient name of Nagano, which is the major production area of Japanese booze, and Osake Mura literally means “alcohol village.” This is a place where you can taste many types of alcohol - not only because of its huge selection but also the affordable price that allows you to try more! For craft beer options, there are several bottled brands and some brews on tap. However, be prepared to get squeezed by the crowds as it’s an extremely popular bar because, well… you can probably tell why!
Time: (Mon - Fri) 11:00 am - 9:30 pm / (Sat) 11:00 am - 6:30 pm / Closed Sundays, public holidays & the 2nd and 3rd Saturday of each month
Location: 1F Shimbashi Ekimae Building, 2-20-15 Shimbashi, Minatoku, Tokyo
Located in Roppongi, Two Dogs Taproom is a craft beer bar plus pizza house where you can enjoy freshly-baked California style pizza. There are 25 taps of craft beer with half Japanese and half international varieties, but don’t miss out their original house beer - Roppongi Pale Ale! The friendly bar staff speak English, so don’t hesitate to approach them with questions And, good news for sports fans, it is a bar where you can watch live games with a beer on hand alongside fellow fans.
Time: Lunch: (Mon - Fri) 11:00 am - 2:30 pm / Dinner: (Tue - Sat) 5:00pm - 3:00am (Sun - Mon) 5:00 pm - 11:30 pm
Location: 1F Shimbashi Ekimae Building, 2-20-15 Shimbashi, Minatoku, Tokyo
THE GRIFFON is a local favorite based in Shibuya, extremely popular among the Japanese Tokyoites. There are awesome selections on tap, always stocking more than 20 craft beers from local and international breweries. Considering the quality of the brews, the relatively expensive price is actually reasonable, while you can always save more by heading there during happy hours. Don’t worry about the fact that the bar staff barely speak English, the beer will speak for itself. During sports season, there will be live sports games showing on screen.
Time: (Tue - Sat) 5.30 pm - 5:00 am / (Sun & Mon) 5.30 pm - 12:00 am
Location: B1F, 2-22-6 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Ushitora is consisted of two sister bars just situated across the street from one another. You can choose according to your preference: Ushitora One offers counter and table seating and Western food; Ushitora Two is a more casual standing bar that serves Japanese food like kushiage and oden. There are more than 35 taps of craft beer with a focus on Japanese brewers, while 10 of them are sourced from Ushitora’s own craft beer brewery in Tochigi.
Time: (Mon & Wed - Sun) 11:30 am - 2:00 am / (Tue) 4.00 pm - 2:00 am
Location: 6 Chome-3-27 Daita, Setagayaku, Tokyo
Nowadays, Japanese craft beers can be easily found across Japan, while the high quality bars listed above are scattered in every corner of Japan's capital city. Hope this guide on craft beer bars in Tokyo could help you to find your first stop to discover the beauty of Japanese beers, and maybe one of the bars will become your favorite drinking spot!