RateBeer Japan Gathering 2
The thread for this event is here http://www.ratebeer.com/forums/rbjg-2_213901_1.htm
Details are finalized. Pub Crawl Friday March 29th in Tokyo. Sat visit to Chateau Kamiya then Grand Tasting, Sunday Zakko Brewery and then Vivo, Devil Craft (ok, we might switch it up a tad on Sunday). The first RBJG was in 2009, it is time for another gathering.
The skinny on Japanese beer scene as it stands in Fall 2012
New beer bars in Tokyo have opened at a pace of about one every two weeks this year and over the past five years the number of bars has exploded. There are way way too many pubs in Tokyo to include everything on RateBeer and many pubs would have 7-12 taps of stuff that is not that uncommon. In fairness, I canít even really say that as I have probably only been to half the beer bars in greater Tokyo. I mainly listen to what people are saying and then check new places out. In any case, this gathering will hardly touch the surface of what is available, so please feel free to stay longer and see more of Tokyo/Japan. I would say there are 20+ decent pubs in the Tokyo/Yokohama area that are worth visiting.
Numerous pubs lined with excellent domestic and imported draft beer make Tokyo/Yokohama one of the better beer cities in the world, IMO. Although many Americans may bulk at drinking American craft beer abroad, how many bars in the world can you go to with Pizza Port (yes, Pizza Port), Stone, Green Flash and smaller breweries like Sound, Diamond Knot, Devilís Canyon, Crab Tree and Fifty Fifty at the same time? (Ok, I donít know if all of those beers have been on tap at one time at one bar, but certainly it is possible, plus many more). Plus lots of Japanese beers beside these great American beauties.
Sounds great doesnít it? Ready to buy your ticket to Tokyo? Hold on, there is one big hindrance for many people to come to Japan, especially beer geeks and that is high prices. High prices not only for beer, but many things. These high prices are not because prices have risen in Japan, but rather because the US dollar and Euro have been killed by the Yen since 2010/2009. Of course the yen could weaken by the end of March, but donít count on it.
Sample prices (NO TIPPING IN JAPAN - donít even try to do it!)
US Pint Craft Beer (domestic) = 750-1000 yen ($9.75-12.50)
US Pint US Craft Beer = 1000-1300 yen ($12.50 - $16.25)
Fast food 400-800 yen ($5-10)
Casual dining 2000 yen ($25)/person
Decent meal with drinks 4500-7500 ($60-100)/person
Top End - use your imagination.
Capsule/Hostel 3000 yen ($40)
Cheap hotel 5500 yen ($70/person)
Mid-range hotel Twin 11,000 ($70/person)
Inside central Tokyo trains are cheap 130-190 yen ($1.60-$2.50)
Luckily good sake is very cheap.
Prices above are for beer in central Tokyo. Outside of central Tokyo prices drop and in the countryside prices can plummet. Notably places like Chateau Kamiya occasionally have 3hr all-you-can-drink for 1500 yen, and that is only 1hr from central Tokyo. We will be likely hitting some very budget friendly places. An informal list Chateau Kamiya, Zakko, Shonan Brewery, Brimmer Beer Box, Shinshu Sake mura.
Tons of new breweries are opening in Japan and mediocre breweries are improving, the scene is really picking up, though it is still 10 yrs behind the US. Japan is not a country of extreme beers, if that is your thing. Expect to find lots of well made beers in a variety of styles, with some mind blowing German beers. In essence Japan has a great beer scene, once you get by the high prices. If you were ever contemplating coming to Japan, RBJG can offer a great way to explore the beer scene with local beer guides and you wonít have to worry about any language issues for the weekend.
Also note that the end of March/beginning of April is Cherry Blossom season in Japan and the scenery is really spectacular. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011.html
Also note that KyotoLefty can assist people on beers adventures down to the Kansai area (Kyoto/Osaka/Nara).
Please note that people living in Japan can post information about hotel accommodation and can give some general non-beer advice, but we are not travel agents.
Also if any one has any advice on good breweries i could go to, let me know. I will buy a rail pass and am willing to travel into smaller towns. Will be staying in Kobe.
You are in great hands with Tim.
dont mean to make him sound like a molester
Shit! just realised that those last ten comments werenít being entered as I thought but instead I was editing the SAME BLOODY COMMENT!
Chris, donít worry about that Chuwy will be in full effect for at least part, if not all, the weekend. He is already bouncing off the walls in anticipation..... errr, no, wait, he is bouncing off the walls, just because he can.
Really needs the madness that is Chuwy in attendance for the full experience!