The worth of a nation can be measured by the quality of beer running through its veins. This thought, born from visits to breweries in the USA , was confirmed by tasting the best beers in Tokyo. And with this in mind, let me introduce you to Koenji Beer Workshop 高円寺麦酒工房 (Koenji Bakushu Kobo).
I. Hide and go beer
Sitting a mere 400 meters north-northeast of the JR Chuo line Koenji station 高円寺駅 is the Koenji Bakushu Kobo brewpub. Good luck finding it without a map. Nestled within a residential neighborhood, you are unlikely to find it without good directions, but you’ll know you’re there when you spot the wooden deck and glass sliding doors. The interior reminds me of a rustic New England tavern with the handmade wooden furniture and the casual, clean atmosphere. I visited on a Sunday at 3pm and felt a relaxed vibe from the staff and diverse customers: an elderly couple, a boisterous foursome in their 20’s, and young parents with a baby. Koenji Beer Workshop is a community space with small-town friendliness. With a cold beer in hand, and American country music on the radio, I felt miles away from the neon hysteria of Shibuya 渋谷区.
- Workshop beer Koenji 高円寺麦酒工房 (Google map)
- Koenjikita 2-24-8, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
- 東京都杉並区高円寺北2-24-8, 〒 166-0002
- Telephone 電話: 03 -5373 -5301
II. You have isolated juicy big a kite. ジューシーなたこを大きく切り分けました。
So what to drink? I started with the house White Beer ホワイト, an unobjectionable beer with just enough flavor to let you know it’s there. It’s no Allagash White, but it’s worth a second visit. Instead, I followed with the house Strong Ale ストロング, a hoppy pale ale without much bitterness. The menu is in Japanese but the beer styles are also listed in English which, when I visited, included Cream Ale クリーム, Blonde Aleブロンド, and Hot Ale ホット (not including the Kirin brand beers also on tap). Beer menu
The food is good too. Looks like typical, but well-prepared bar offerings. With my nonexistent Japanese reading skills I emulated the couple next to me and ordered fried octopus たこの唐揚; re-visiting the food menu I was delighted to read the google translation of this tasty dish:
You have isolated juicy big a kite. Perfect for beer! !
III. I was in the neighborhood…
When visiting Koenji Beer Workshop 高円寺麦酒工房 be sure to check outthe PAL arcade and Koenji Look Street 高円寺ルック商店街, which runs south from the JR Chuo line Koenji station 高円寺駅 to the Marunouchi line Shinkoenji Station 新高円寺駅. I picked up a pair of used jeans for 735 yen (under $10) at Under700 and was amazed at the selection of Alf, Captain Crunch, and Jolly Green Giant paraphernalia at an American kitsch store. Great window shopping. I’m sure to be back.
Also in Koenji:
- House NA (Sou Fujimoto’s glass house)
- Classical music cafes Nelken 名曲喫茶ネルケン and Rennaissance ルネッサンス, as noted in Meikyoku kissa: classical music cafes of Tokyo 東京の名曲喫茶
- Koenji temple 高円寺