Craft Beer in Japan: Rare But Easy to Find

Beer lovers will either love or hate their trip to Japan. Fans of light lagers will find the stuff fresh and cheap anywhere they go. But real beer snobs seeking the darker, stronger or more complex brews get bored easily. Thankfully, there are remedies for travelers weary of the Asahi/Kirin/Sapporo triumvirate.

Bryan-sayuri-bairds-harajuku-taproomThe blog LetsJapan has a pretty decent writeup of Baird Beer, one of the popular local craft brews, and the Harajuku Taproom, one of the more famous spots to go for it. Quoth our hero:

Baird Beer’s credo is “Balance + Complexity = Character.”  I’ll leave it to you to ruminate on that.  Suffice to say that I tried the Wheat King Ale. … It was, indeed, balanced and had a rich flavor that delighted my tongue without taking me up by my shirt collar and shaking me. 

The Taproom is a popular expat joint owned by the Baird's Beer crew. Wrote local mag Metropolis in 2010, which also gets credit for the photo used in this post:

Harajuku Taproom offers an antidote to [Harajuku's pop-culture obsession]. Its atmosphere is soberly pub-like—wood dominates the scene, and an improbably long row of taps pokes out from the wall behind the bar. The counter winds through the length of the interior, enclosing a tiny kitchen and extending to a corner beneath a wall-mounted TV.

The space provides a low-key backdrop for enjoying Baird’s highly regarded and uniformly excellent beers. Nine varieties are available year-round.

It's also worth searching Reddit's r/Japan forum for the term 'beer' to find what's going on when you visit.