Post: Tuesday December 15, 2015
Roppongi has one of the largest concentrations of non-Japanese people in Japan in general and Tokyo in particular. With so much diversity around, it should come as no surprise that Roppongi is one part of the Tokyo craft beer scene that is brimming over with possibilities! Let’s refresh ourselves with a look at 5 awesome places to go bottom’s up in the heart of Tokyo.
Tokyo Craft Beer: Roppongi Restaurants and Bars
August Beer Club
Address : Royal Building 1F., 3-9-4 Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032
Directions : Exit Roppongi station, Exit 5. Turn right and walk past a Family Mart convenience store. Go another 2 blocks and turn right, up some steps and turn right again. August Clubhouse is on the right side.
Website : http://www.clubhouse-beer.jp/
August Beer Club was opened in 2010. This beer restaurant, which is centred around a large pizza oven, focuses primarily on the world’s favourite Italian pie in addition to some other small dishes. Although the 40-plus seats are usually filled with crowd of mostly Japanese office workers, don’t worry: The staff is friendly and floor manager Sakamoto-san speaks very good English.
The four August beers on offer are currently contract brewed by Gotenba Kogen brewery (near Mt Fuji) but have been brewed by others in the past. They offer a robust selection of pale lager, Vienna lager, an American IPA, and a Belgian white ale, along with a single “guest beer” that varies. Prices are reasonable; small 260ml (700yen), Regular 350ml (750yen) and a UK pint (1,100yen) with a taster set of 4 glasses for 1,250yen.
Of course the taste is the most important thing, and August Beer Club doesn’t disappoint. Their pale lager is clean and crisp, not unlike the Sapporo Edelpils described in another article on the best brews in Hiroo and Azabujuban. The Vienna lager is a rare find in Japan, an expert blend of toast, caramel, toffee and molasses amid the hop bitterness that should be treasured when you finally get your hands on it. The IPA has plenty of hops but, being 7% alcohol, is the stronger and heavier of the 4 beers. For a pleasant, well balanced beer spiced with coriander and orange peel, try the Snow Blanche Belgian white ale.
August Clubhouse is smoking friendly and has free wifi, but the best part: Happy hour is actually two hours, running from 5 to 7pm.
Address : Aries Building 2F., 3-15-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku.
Directions : Walk down the main Roppongi Street. Walk past Don Kihote and turn left after a Family Mart. You will see the 2 dogs building ahead of you, at the end of the short street, down a slight slope.
Website : http://www.twodogs-tokyo.com/
Finding craft beer in Tokyo sometimes means choosing between an all-Japanese or all-foreign selection, but not at 2 Dogs. A relative newcomer to the Tokyo craft beer scene, this one features a varied combination of both Japanese and international beers and is quite popular with the international crowd. Comprising 3 floors and providing seating for 90 or more people, this spacious building also features a large pizza oven and 25 taps, mostly filled with craft beers. You can find the largest range of Kawasaki-brewed Brimmer beers here, with up to 12 regularly rotating Japanese craft beers, as well as some very fine international offerings.
At around 1,000yen per US pint, prices are good. Two Dogs offers a 4 beer taster set for 2,000yen and a happy hour from 5-7pm, where all beers can be increased one size for free (200ml to 360ml or 360ml to 473ml). They also have an all you can drink option and are popular for parties. All staff speak English and there are English menus, which is not surprising since the bar is managed by two American gentlemen. They offer wifi and are smoking friendly, although if you request no smoking, they will open a special VIP room for you. The building features big screen TVs and is a popular place to watch the latest sporting events.
Ant n Bee
Address : 5-1-5, Roppongi, Minato-ku
Directions : Located just off the Hibiya line, Roppongi station, Exit #3. Turn right, then right at the large intersection, taking you down the main street, towards Tokyo Tower. Craft Beer Bar Ant ‘n Bee is on the right, just below Abbot's Choice (look for the large neon sign).
Website : http://ameblo.jp/roppongi-beerbar-antnbee/
For another good selection of Japanese craft beers in Roppongi, head to the basement bar, Ant n Bee, started in 2010 by manager Makiko Kawabe, who has surrounded herself with friendly and knowledgeable staff. With around 20 taps (all Japanese), this is the best option for the widest range of Japanese craft beers in the area; since they stay open until the first train, you’ll have more than enough time to sample a few.
Ant n Bee offers 4 beer sizes: small (250ml), regular (350ml), large, US Pint (473) and maas (a huge, heavy 1L German mug). Prices are 900yen for regular and 1200yen for a pint. Although a little on the expensive side, some of the beers on offer are hard to find elsewhere, especially all in one location. Food wise, they have a nice selection of small but delicious dishes including such standard bar fare as chicken wings plus a few more interesting items.
Inside, the main bar and counter area seats around a dozen and smoking is allowed, with another 20 or so seats for non-smoking. Outside, the bar is actually a bit hard to find; look for it below Abbot’s Choice, where the manager actually used to work.
Address : Sachsen Building B1, 6-1-6, Roppongi, Minato-ku.
Directions: Turn right from Roppongi Station, Exit 3. Take the first right, down a side street. Goshiki is in the basement, on the left side, about 50m down the street. Like Ant n Bee it is not very easy to find, but it is well worth the search when you do.
Website : http://beer-cuisine.com/
Coedo Brewery is actually located in Saitama, but for the past 5 years they have had a craft beer restaurant in Roppongi. A small basement bar called Goshiki, it seats around 30 people and offers the full Coedo range of beers. Coedo beers are clean and well-made and feature the Shikkoku (schwarz), Beniaka (an ale made from sweet potatoes), Ruri (a pilsner) and Kyara (a pale lager).The Beniaka, being one of the more interesting beers on offer, is also perhaps the most popular one. Prices here are not cheap, but they do offer a 5 beer taster set for 2,200yen and happy hour is a relatively long hour and a half (from 6 to 7:30). The bar is smoking-friendly and has free wifi.
Address : 5-3-2-1F Roppongi, Minato-ku.
Website : http://brewdogbar.jp/
Another bar that is popular with the international crowd is the Roppongi Brewdogbar. Brewdog, originally from Scotland, have captured a lot of attention worldwide and are now making inroads into the Tokyo craft beer scene. The Roppongi location offers almost their entire range plus various guest beers from around the world and a few Japanese craft beers, such as North Island, from Hokkaido. Expect to pay 800yen for a half UK pint. Staff are bilingual and knowledgeable, and the food here is tasty and varied.
Craft beer options in Roppongi are indeed plentiful, but the fun and variety don’t actually end there—there are hamburger places and even convenience stores and supermarkets in Hiroo and Azabu-Juban that offer even more ways to satisfy your craving for craft beer in Tokyo. Check them out today—that is, if you don’t have to work tomorrow.
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