Thankfully a little time afterward and I have been able to reflect on a great weekend with a good friend and give this article a bit more thought. Luke has had a few trips around and about in the far east and is garnering a bit of a following with his social media traffic, so we are lucky to have another article about his adventures right here...
As autumn has come upon us I have been luckily enough to get to visit the great city of Tokyo, which was high on my to do list for sometime, while being out in the far east I took the opportunity to visit. The city did not disappoint, with lots of sights and things to do for the visitor, this is a brief review of the places we visited to sample some delightful craft beers whilst in Japan’s capital city.
Whilst walking around the busy Shinjuku JR station and trying to decide where to go, we happily stumbled upon Berg and were pleasantly surprised by what we found. This bijou watering hole offers a range of tasty food options from hotdogs through to cheese platters; but its offer of craft beer is a delight for anyone. A display case positioned in the entrance is packed with a number of bottles and cans from craft brewers, most notably Black Isle Brewery; a Scottish brewery which I had pleasure of trying back in HK at BeertopiaHK and most recently at Roundhouse.
Such was the pleasant experience on our first visit we returned, a couple days later for another visit. Again the place was full with a pleasant buzz of people enjoying a quick bite and a few beers. The offers had changed and this visit I opted for a India “Black” Ale by Shiga Kogen. This was a dark black colour with little head, an aroma of hoppy pine notes and slight coffee base. For a darker beer, this had a medium body, with a similar taste as aroma suggests, also with a bit of chocolate for good measure. The beer had a dry bitter finish, all this coming together with our surroundings to make one happy punter.
A must to revisit if find myself in Tokyo again, not a place to have a heavy session but great for a quick, refreshing pint before back heading out onto streets of Shinjuku.
If I go anywhere and hear there is a Brewdog bar it lands on top of my to do list (good job Liverpool got one just in time for your visit eh Luke? – Pedro) and here is no different with a visit to the only Brewdog in Asia. Tucked away on a side street not far from Roppongi station, from external and internal appearance this was unmistakably a Brewdog bar. Sadly on the occasion of our visit, it was somewhat lacking in patrons on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but the pleasant and friendly staff and a delightful selection on tap and bottle made up for the dearth of atmosphere.
The offer of a selection float was too much to resist, offering any four beers from tap and marked with a dog. As I experienced many a Brewdog tasting evenings back in Liverpool and BeertopiaHK, not many of the classic Brewdog signature brews have been missed on my bucket list, so finding new beers is always a challenge. Luckily there were a few to fill the void; Zeitgeist and BD Camden were first on list, much to my delight. Unfortunately the BD Edinburgh had just finished in a cruel stroke of misfortune, so went back to favorites with Punk IPA and Jack Hammer finishing the line up of the four float.
First up is Zeitgeist, a black lager, jet black in colour with a slight thin white head, with an aroma of dark malts and chocolate and a medium to light body adding notes of coffee and light bitterness in taste. Next up was BD Camden, a Belgian Double, dark red/brown in colour, aroma of caramel with slight hoppy and roasted malt, with medium body and just enough bitterness in taste to offset the sweet flavour of the beer.
With lack of available time, this fleeting visit was decidedly short and swift, meaning we were unable to sample the bottle selection; that just leaves more to try at next Brewdog bar I happen upon.
Baird Brewing Co Taproom
The next enticing stop in Tokyo was the Baird taproom in Harajuku, one of the two taprooms in Tokyo by this local company. Up on the second floor and on the corner of an offshoot of the main street, this pleasant, warm and cozy taproom offers a range of the companies many craft beers and a selection of “izakaya” dishes or yakitori-style skewers.
Here the main menu has quick descriptions of beers on offer; showing off the stylish labels that emblazon the bottles. Here again as any good taproom should offer a selection float of three beers is an option, though it must be said that the size of glass is a little on the small side.
Numazu Lager, Shuzenji Heritage Helles and Red Rose Amber were all ordered for the first round. Of the three, only one I would return to would be the Heritage Helles, as it had a pleasant aroma, was well balanced and very drinkable, the Red Rose Amber was not my thing by comparison. With the lighter beer options out of the way time, the next sample board was an opportunity to get a little darker, second round made up of Kurofune Porter, Shimaguni Stout and Suruga Bay Imperial IPA. The porter and stout were perfectly good examples of their styles and pleasant, but sadly nothing to write home about. My personal favorite was the Suruga Bay, copper colour with slight amount of head, an aroma of sweetness and pine notes pervading, a medium body with a sweet taste, heavy hit of bitterness and nice hoppy bitter finish.
Would happily visit this taproom again but might try the other Tokyo based taproom at Nakameguro which along their beers serves “craft” pizzas.