World beers, Tokyo bars (part I)

Drinking beers from across the globe in Tokyo: Shinjuku and Shibuya

World beers, Tokyo bars (part I)


As the chills of winter begin to thaw, now is the ideal time to welcome in the spring with a refreshing glass of beer. On Feb 28, at Sumida Industrial Centre, the Japan Craft Beer Association held their 13th Japan Asia Beer Cup. This annual event, which targets beers on sale in Japan and Asia, awards gold, silver and bronze medals to beers from twelve distinct categories. Plus, after the judgments have been made, guests are offered the opportunity to taste the various beers involved. In general, the event is only open to the judges, brewers and other parties with vested interests; however, there are also a limited number of tickets available for the general public.

Recently, more and more bars are making an increased effort to import beers from all reaches of the globe. From bars with upper-class sophisticated atmospheres where you can sit down with other adults to enjoy a quiet glass of your favourite international beer, to bars where you can order a pint of good-old British brewed lager, laugh, shout and party with the crowd – whatever your taste, in Tokyo, you’ll find a bar to match it.

Shinjuku and Shibuya are the go-to places for a night out at the pub, and if it’s international draughts that you are looking for, these are some spots that are worth checking out.

In and around Shinjuku


Frigo is located about a five-minute walk from the south exit of Shinjuku station. Go down the stairs and open the door and you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting you’re in Japan and instead thinking you’re about to enter a European pub; however, rather than European customers, you’re more likely to find the place full of local salarymen. In addition to offering over 160 different well-established European beers, including many Belgian and German varieties, they also regularly offer a variety of lesser-known ‘guest beers’ for limited time periods and provide a good selection of food. Other drinking establishments in the same chain include Belgo in Shibuya, Favori in Ginza, Frigo Est in Suidobashi and Irish pub Failte located in Shibuya.

Address: Shinjuku Shimazu Bldg B1, 2-11-20 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo
Telephone (03)5371 0666
Open: Mon-Sat 5.30pm-4am, Sun & nat. holidays 3-11pm, closed the second Sun of the month

Café Hoegaarden

Located down a side street that’s slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku station’s south exit, this two-storey bar is popular with small drinking groups. There is a counter on both floors, and, as the name suggests, it specializes in Belgian beers. In addition to offering approximately 80 different varieties of Belgian beer, including the very beer that the establishment is named after, they also offer a selection of decent Belgian cuisine – parties over four can make reservations for either a ¥2,500 or a ¥3,500 set course. In the vicinity of Café Hoegaarden, you’ll also find a variety of different hotels – making the area one that’s particularly popular with foreign travellers. The bar is part of the local Brussels chain, which also includes other Café Hoegaarden branches in Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, Kamiyacho and Kanda, and the Chambre Claire café at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu.

Address: 2-20-16 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)5388 5523
Open: Mon-Fri 5.30pm-4am, Sat 5.30-11pm, closed Sun

Steinhaus Shinjuku Nishiguchi

Next to Shinjuku station’s west exit, Steinhaus Shinjuku, with its stone-walled basement interior, offers a taste of European grandeur. Included in the range of beers served here are some unique beers that have been imported directly from a variety of well-established brewers based in Munich – offering an opportunity to sample beers that are rarely available outside of Germany. Also worthy of note here is the European cuisine. Steinhaus Shinjuku is part of a chain that includes the Franziskaner Bar & Grill branches in Ochanomizu, Kamiyacho and Nihonbashi; the Franz Club branches in the Shin-Maru Bldg and Hamamatsucho, Steinhaus in Ginza, German Farm Grill in Shibuya and Eichen Platz in Akasaka.

Address: Ida Bldg B1, 1-4-6 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)5908 3558
Open: Mon-Sat 5.30pm-4am, Sun and nat. holidays 5.30-11pm

Billy Barew’s Beer Bar, Takadanobaba

This small but pioneering beer bar, located next to Takanobaba station, imports over 120 brands of beer from over 31 different countries. Inside, you’ll find a counter, seats, tables and a standing space that gets crowded with only about 30 customers. They regularly play rock music, among other genres, and provide a lively drinking atmosphere. Other branches can be found in Kanda, Shinjuku and Ebisu.

Address: 1-17-10 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)3209 0952
Open: Mon-Thur 6pm-1am, Fri-Sat 6pm-3am, Sun and nat. holidays 6pm-12midnight

In and around Shibuya


This Irish pub, located behind Mark City in Shibuya, offers both a range of well-known Irish and British beers, and some especially imported varieties that aren’t available anywhere else in Japan. In addition to various beers, Failte also offer a good selection of pub food – ranging from side plates to main courses. There’s both a standing bar, great for a quick pint on the way home from work, and table seating. In summer, there’s also a terrace area. They occasionally host live Irish music performances by artists from both Ireland and Japan. Other drinking establishments in the same chain include Frigo in Shinjuku, Belgo in Shibuya, Favori in Ginza, and Frigo Est in Suidobashi.

Address: Shibuya Sede Bldg 5F, 1-5-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)3476 7776
Open: Mon-Sat 5.30pm-2am, Sun and nat. holidays 3-11pm (Happy Hour: Mon-Thur 5.30-7pm)


Located behind Shibuya Police Station, about 5 minutes walk from Shibuya train station, Biscafe offers over 100 kinds of Belgian beer. Inside, you’ll find a relaxed atmosphere that’s a world apart from the humming activity around Shibuya station. However, because there’s no non-smoking section, if you’re sensitive to smoky atmospheres then this might not be the place for you. In addition to their various Belgian beers, they also offer a Belgian food menu that includes fares such as blue mussels steamed with Belgian beer.

Address: No.4 Yagi Bldg B1, 3-6-18 Shibuya, Shibuya, Tokyo Telephone: (03)5774 7984
Open: Mon-Thur 11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-1am, Fri 11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-4.30am, Sat 5.30pm-1am, Sun 4-11.30pm

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By Ai Terada
Translated by Brin Wilson
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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