A little good cheer through beer here at the end of the year – a pub crawl from Shinbashi to Tokyo. Hopefully places you all are already well familiar with.
As you can see from the map, it’s a short, straightforward walk from Shinbashi through Ginza North to Tokyo Station:
After a couple beers you might be tempted to go off and do some sightseeing, but that will only get you lost – stay on target.
1. 新橋 DRY-DOCK 〒105-0004東京都港区新橋3-25-10
First stop is under the tracks at Shinbashi. No, not yakitori as you might expect, but Dry-Dock, a cozy little bar with a nautical theme. First floor is standing only. There are a few tables on the second floor (really nice decor), but I believe they require a reservation and a table charge. They have a bunch of regular taps which usually have three Sumidagawa beers, Super Dry, Chimay, a kriek, as well as a rotating guest keg that is always something interesting – currently Old Rasputin, but in the past it has been Green Flash IPA, Hunter’s Point Porter, Old No. 38 Stout, and a variety of others. They also have tasty eats, the baskets of kara-age (with fries underneath) being the best value.
Exit on the Ginza side of the Karasumori Exit and head to the right. Cross the first road that goes under the tracks, and Dry-Dock is just around the bend on the right. Maybe a little hard to find the first time.
2. Houblon 〒105-0061東京都中央区銀座3-2-11
A quick walk through the Ginza brings you to Houblon, home to an enormous selection of Belgian beers. Upon seating, they’ll hand you an encyclopedia-sized menu listing the six beers on tap and hundred or so bottles they offer. They claim to have some super-rare beers (like the lower alcohol Trappist beers that I’ve read are only available at the abbeys) but are generally sold out, and some of their bottles are prohibitively expensive, but the taps and most of the normal sized bottles are reasonable. I can’t speak for the food, but it always has a lot of people, so it’s probably not crap (ha, now that’s what I call a sound recommendation). The best part of all is that on weekends it opens at noon – it might be the only place serving quality beer between 12pm and 5pm.
3. World Beer Pub & Foods Bulldog 〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座西3-1 銀座インズ１ 2F
Bulldog is just a couple blocks from Houblon in the INZ building under the highway, a short jaunt from Yurakuchō Station. I was very impressed with their selection of import beers. I’ve only been once, but when I went they had a couple of Stone and Speakeasy beers on tap and even more in bottles. They have a large food menu and plenty of tables in addition to the bar and the counter along the windows that look out at the willow trees on the street – a very pleasant place to drink away several hours.
4. TOWERS Standing Beer Bar 〒140-0028 東京都央区銀八重洲2-8-10
Possibly the smallest bar that serves great beer, Towers fits approximately six normal-sized individuals or four normal-sized individuals and one sumo-sized individual; I imagine it spills out onto the sidewalk during events. From Bulldog, it’s just a little further towards Tokyo Station. It’s probably easier to get to from Bulldog than Tokyo Station, to be honest, but if you’re coming from the station, you need the Yaesu South Exit. Awesome atmosphere: no sign, free snacks (although I was not bold enough to have any), 4-6 quality beers on tap (including a hand pump), and the satisfaction that you are cool enough to know of a bar like this.
Speaking of events, Towers is having a Christmas event today and tomorrow. I’ll be the drunk guy with a Santa hat. See you there.
5. Beer Pub Bacchus 〒103-0025東京都中央区八重洲1-7-7
North from Towers, just a block from the North Exit of Tokyo Station, is Bacchus, a basement bar with great atmosphere and a nice group of regular customers. They have regular rotating kegs in addition to Yona Yona brews – both the pale ale and Tokyo Black are mainstays on the hand pump. Also, a limited selection of quality bottled beers. Decent pub eats, too – I can personally recommend the sausage plate and cheese plate, which are both great to snack on. As far as I can tell, Bacchus is the closest bar to Tokyo Station with quality beer, making it a great place for a pre-departure drink.
Once you’re finished with the crawl, there are multiple karaoke venues to choose from, all within a block from Bacchus. After five beers that are most likely 5-6% alcohol or higher, you’ll be in excellent condition to wail your favorite songs – just make sure you get to the karaoke room before you start singing.