Hop To It!
With Japan’s brewing industry dominated by four large names - Sapporo, Kirin Ichiban, Asahi and Suntory - it fell to just a few individuals to keep alive the independent brewing tradition.
Channelling perfectly the zeitgeist for slow food and a resurgence of interest in seasonal and hand-produced food and drinks, micro-brewing has become a hugely popular global phenomenon, and all the more reason to welcome Tokyo’s new champion The Watering Hole, a small, friendly drop-in spot on Meiji-dori.
The culture of jiburu (craft beer bars) in Tokyo has been driven by enthusiasts like Watering Hole owner and brewer Ichiri Fujiura, and July saw the realisation of his dream with the opening of his own bar. Collecting together 21 beers on tap (including two real ales on hand-pumps) from around Japan as well as overseas, Fujiura’s simple, glass-fronted ‘pub’ with its smart brick and timber fitout, chalkboard, tables banquettes and counter bar also serves a short and simple snack menu of organic green salad, sizzling sausages and bitter (but delicious) fried snacking hops.
Don’t miss the fruit-some, citrus-y Fukushima Michinoku Peach Ale, the nutty buckwheat Soba Ale from Rogue in Oregon USA, or the rich, dark, bitter chocolate-y Oni-Densetsu Black Silk from Noboribetsu. Or, if you can wait until 2013, you’ll be able to sample Fujiura’s own label Tharsis Ridge. Oh, landlord!