Craft Beer Bars

The go-to English-language resource for craft beer places in Tokyo is TokyoBeerDrinker, so while it’s definitely worth your time to check out that blog thoroughly we’re listing a few of our favorite places around Tokyo. Also if you check our tap list page you’ll be able to see what they have on tap currently.

Must visit

  • Craftheads (Homepage,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • Craftheads is a great little bar in Shibuya that has a pretty even split of Japanese taps and imports, both very well-curated. They tend to get some American (mostly Southern California) taps of stuff that isn’t officially imported to Japan, like Monkish and Strand and Three Floyds, so they’ve definitely got the connections going. They’re also quite close with Tamamura Honten, and always have their special beers and sometimes have events with them. Food is great, service is nice, a little bit on the expensive side but definitely one of the best craft beer places in Tokyo. Bottles also available but fairly pricey.
  • Pigalle (Homepage,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • The place to go in Tokyo for European craft beer. Located in Sangenjaya two stops from Shibuya on the Den-en-toshi line, this cozy little bar is run by a very friendly couple who are into beer, design, European film, and music, among other things. They usually have 4 European taps (unfortunately one of which is taken up by some mass market English bitter) and 2 Japanese taps, all well-chosen. Pigalle has good relationships with both European brewers and importers (this is the place Mikkel of Mikkeller fame visits when he’s in town!), so often they have taps of stuff that is hard to find – I had a draft of De Dochter van de Korenaar’s Crime Passionel wheat IPA, which was awesome. According to the bar they only imported 7 kegs to Japan or something like that. The clientele also tends to be beer snob-heavy, which I consider a good thing. Also doubles as a bottle shop where you can find European stuff you won’t see much in other places (Fantome, De Dochter van de Korenaar, etc.). Great place.

Great atmosphere, beer depends but we still love them

  • The Cat & Cask Tavern (Homepage,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • This British pub is a little bit out of the way but still not too bad for most people – it’s located right off of Kanamecho on the Fukutoshin/Yurakucho lines. The owner, Wayne, is a very friendly and outgoing Englishman who likes his classic rock. Clientele seems to be mostly locals who live or work around there, which contributes to a great atmosphere. They usually have 4 taps, and it tends to be either Minoh or pale ales (and sometimes the Minoh Pale Ale). I’m not a massive fan of either so I don’t think they have the best selection, but they do also get Tamamura Honten and Y Market and some other breweries in there, and because it’s a fun local place to hang out I don’t hesitate in recommending it.
  • Gremlin (Facebook,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • Right in the Hatagaya station building on the Keio Shinsen. This bar is run by a young-ish Japanese guy who spent some time in England and is a massive Liverpool fan. For some reason which I haven’t ascertained yet the bar’s Facebook page has a photo of a cat with every tap list update. Like Cat & Cask it has a slightly local, gritty feel to it. They usually have 5 taps and the beer here also tends to favor pale ales, and they seem to have an unhealthy obsession with stocking Noboribetsu/Kin’Oni pale ales, which is a pretty good pale ale but not a must-have. They do get other more interesting beers though – when I went they had the North Island Coriander Black on tap, which is awesome. Definitely worth checking out.

Good food, good beer, a bit less personal

  • DevilCraft (Homepage,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • Specializing in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and craft beer, they run two branches – one in Kanda and one in Hamamatsucho. Their pizza is great, and they usual have a good beer selection heavily focused on American beer with some Japanese beers thrown in. The Kanda branch is the original, but Hamamatsucho has more taps. They also sometimes host brewer events. They were supposed to start brewing their own beer as well, but they haven’t managed to get that rolling yet. Clientele is mixed and atmosphere not so intimate, but the pizza alone makes it worth it, and the beer is just a bonus.
  • Craft Beer Market (Homepage,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • A popular chain of craft beer restaurants that offers pretty good food. They have locations mostly based around central Tokyo, where they draw a salaryman-heavy crowd. Reservations may be necessary to be guaranteed a seat. Prices are very reasonable, and they usually have a very good Japanese beer selection – they regularly stock beers that I love like the Aqula Kiwi IPA or the Nihonkai Club Pilsner or the Iwate Kura Oyster Stout that you don’t see that often in some other places around Tokyo. They also sometimes have American beer as well, but the emphasis is on Japanese craft beer. They also commission some brews from their own original recipes, and it looks like they are trying to make this a bigger part of what they do. The atmosphere at their bars tends to be a bit more corporate and impersonal (well, salaryman-like), but they are also expanding into more younger areas like Koenji and Kichijoji.
  • Vector Beer (Vector Beer,Vector Beer Factory)
    • Like tongue? Like beer? Then this is the place for you. They specialize in tongue, which I happen to love. They also only have Japanese craft beer on tap, usually not an outstanding selection but decent enough. They just opened up a sister shop down the street called Vector Beer Factory that has a wider range of food but in turn focuses on Japanese IPAs.

Other places we like

  • iBrew (Facebook,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • Very small craft beer bar located close to Kyobashi. Mostly Japanese taps, pretty good food, nice cozy atmosphere. Selection quality varies, but you’ll probably find at least one beer you’re interested in. Also very reasonable priced. They just opened a second location nearby called iBrew Wired.
  • Ushitora (Blog,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • An institution of sorts in Shimokitazawa, they run two bars right next to each other. Lots of taps, usually a great beer selection that is mostly Japanese-heavy, and recently features a lot of their own brews – mostly good in quality, and they recently brewer a whole series with Luc Bim Lafontaine of Dieu du Ciel fame. Ushitora is a bit overpriced, though, and although I personally haven’t felt anything of the sort the few times that I’ve been I’ve also heard whispers of poor service and questionable clientele (the clientele is less beer-snobby, for what it’s worth).
  • Towers (Homepage,TokyoBeerDrinker)
    • A very small standing bar near Kyobashi. Owner is friendly, prices are very good, atmosphere is laid back and homey. They run about 5 to 7 taps, although you will find one is always Yona-Yona and one is always the Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale. The owner claims that they are Baird-centric but they also do a lot of Tamamura Honten and they seem to be branching out more recently.

Of course this isn’t a comprehensive listing, and we’ll be adding more as new bars are opening up all the time. All of the above places are well worth stopping by, so if you get a chance please do so!

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