The Best Craft Beer in Tokyo

ByMichael Stigall
Oct 31, 2022

The Best Craft Beer in Tokyo

Japan is known for its four big brands of beer, Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. They don’t have much in the way of flavor or variety. Even when they put out new limited-edition drafts, they don’t seem to be notably different from the standard offerings. It is no surprise that expats often pine for the brews of their native lands. Even with all the British and Irish pubs in the capital, you will still find them serving one of the big four breweries’ offerings. So what is a beer connoisseur to do? 

This brings up craft beer, which has made substantial inroads into the capital and can now be found with various brewpubs springing up. Getting to all of them is impossible, but we’ve compiled a small list to get you started. 

Watering Hole

The Watering Hole in Yoyogi is a well-known haunt. Its beginnings have an interesting story as well. You see, in 1998, Ichiri Fujiura became the first non-American to win the Homebrewer of the Year award. This was something of a mixed blessing since it raised questions from the local law enforcement, seeing as how homebrewing in Japan is not, strictly speaking, legal. After his brush with the law, Fujiura went on the straight and narrow and opened this excellent bar with its own ‘nano’ brewery. There are 21 draft microbrews (a couple of them hand-pumped) from Japan and overseas. The selection is regularly updated and handwritten above the bar (as well as updated on the website), meaning you should never be short on choice. The bar staff is incredibly helpful, and as some speak English, they should be able to help you select beers based on your preferred taste.

Where: 5-26-5 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku  (map)

When: Daily 15:00-23:30


Brew Dog, Roppongi

Brew Dog is a famous Scottish brewery well known for its renowned Punk IPA, among other offerings. This split-level bar is their first attempt at breaking into the Eastern market. There are twenty taps, ten of which are in-house beers, including four special editions. The food is wonderful as well and complements the beer perfectly. 

Where: Saito Bldg. 1F, Roppongi 5-3-2,, Minato-ku (map)

Open: Mon-Thur 17:00-00:00, Fri 15:00-00:00, Sat-Sun 11:00-00:00


Devilcraft, various location

Devilcraft has made our lists before, thanks to their excellent Chicago-style pizza. Perhaps I should live there at this point since I can’t stop talking about them. The first Devilcraft bar opened in Kanda in 2011 and has a range of 15 high-quality beers. The pizza has been discussed at length, so I won’t get into it again. Just go and try it out already. The sister bar in Hamamatsucho opened in  2016 and boasts twenty-two taps. They have recently expanded more to include shops in Gotanda and Jiyugaoka. They also have pizza, so any branches are worth visiting.

Where: Various locations; please check the website. 

Swan Lake Pub Edo Yaesu

This is a low-key favorite of mine due to some very good memories of time spent. This classy little pub is just a short walk from Tokyo Station. If you time it right (i.e., when it isn’t packed with salarymen), it can be a haven of quiet amongst the hustle and bustle. Niigata prefecture’s Swan Lake is one of the most famous craft beers around, and with good reason. There are 30 taps here offering good stuff from all over, and while some of the guest beers can get a little bit pricey, their own excellent brews are well-priced at 980 JPY for a UK pint (568ml).

Where: 2-6-5 Yaesu, Chuo-ku  (map)

When: Mon-Fri 13:00-23:00

Popeye, Ryogoku

While the food offerings may not be much to talk about, the winner of The Japan Beer Times’ 2013 Best Bar award rightfully is better known for its beer offerings. With a mind-blowing 70 beers on tap (it is even their URL!), it has to be said that if you are tired of Popeye, you are tired of beer. Despite the vast selection, the excellent staff keeps wait times short. Perhaps due to all the beer, the atmosphere is always cheerful, and there is always something new to try.

Where: 2-18-7 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku (map)

Open: Open: Mon-Sat 15:00-23:00, Sun closed.


Baird Taprooms, various locations

This is another favorite of mine. I’ve been to their original taproom in Numazu, Shizuoka, years ago, and I had a stellar time. From starting with just two people in Numazu in 2000, Baird Beer has since expanded across the country and conquered the capital. The first Tokyo branch opened in Nakameguro in 2008, with another in Harajuku following a year later, and each has its distinct style. The former has a distinctly American vibe selling New Haven-style pizza. It also boasts 26 taps selling a mix of their own microbrew and imported beers and four hand-pull real ale pumps.

The Harajuku branch is heavily influenced by izakaya and serves Japanese food such as kushiyaki and an interesting Shimaguni stout edamame. However, the beers are still their own, with 15 taps selling Baird beers and two hand pumps, one of which supplies the house Harajuku ale. There is even a  third location in Takadanobaba that does Kushiage and a quiet Yokohama location that does BBQ. They are all worth a visit. 

Where: Multiple locations. Please check the website. 


Hatos Bar

Hatos Bar is the antithesis of your standard Japanese bar serving fizzy yellow lager. This established only stocks the most flavorful of beers. Sip a nice pint of something full-bodied and enjoy their authentic pit barbecue, some of the first in Tokyo. Between the laid-back atmosphere, beer, and pulled pork, this shop is a hit with Tokyo’s expats.

Where: Meguro, Nakameguro, 1 Chome−3−5 (map)

When: Tue-Sat 13:00-00:00, closed Sun, Mon, and public holidays.

Goodbeer Faucets

Goodbeer Faucets offers 40 different taps of draft and three ale hand pumps on the go serving beer predominantly from the US and Japan and their own brews. With a concrete and steel aesthetic, they push the limits of what a craft beer pub looks like. The happy hour is nice as well.

Where: Shibuya, Shoto, 1 Chome−29−1 (map)

When: Mon-Thur 16:00-00:00 (midnight), Fri 16:00-01:00, Sat 15:00-00:00 (midnight), Sun 15:00-23:00

Craft Beer Market

Craft Beer Market is a reliable standby for me since there are quite a few of them, and the prices are reasonable. Here you can find up to 30 different craft beers at affordable prices, but not many imported beers. Still, they offer all sorts of Japanese beers, from IPAs to stouts and weizens. There is even occasionally barley wine. Plus, there are locations all over the city with excellent food and English menus. Possibly my favorite place to visit after work. 

Where: Various locations around the city. See the website for your nearest one.

Shinshu Osake Mura

On the Japanese craft beer scene, Nagano may as well be the homeland of craft brewing. Shinshu Osake Mura (literally ‘alcohol village’) is an establishment offering all things Nagano. Although it is really a sake bar and not one of the heavy hitters on this list, they offer a fantastic selection of outstanding Nagano beers. Many of their offerings are at wholesale prices and so are even cheaper than you can find in the shops. Try to find the Apple Hop by Minami Shinshu Beer if it’s in season. Great stuff.

Where: Shimbashi Ekimae Building 1, 2-20-15 Shimbashi, Minato-ku (map)

When: Mon-Fri 11:00-21:30, Sat 11:00-18:30, closed Sun, public holidays, and the 2nd and 3rd Saturday of each month

Connor Ki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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