Japanese beer has traditionally been of the lager or pilsner variety, and there are a lot or great lagers and pilsners on the market by the major breweries – Kirin, Sapporo, Suntory and Asahi. With a bitter and crisp taste, they are a great accompaniment to sushi and other Japanese food.
When I first got into jibiru — micro or local beer — the term previously used to refer to Japanese craft beer, the brews often came with German-sounding names – Alt, Bock, Weisen, etc. The taste varied—sometimes excellent and sometimes barely drinkable, but always exciting to try.
The craft beer scene in Japan is apparently now booming. However, rather than the German-inspired beers, most beers are now American-style Pale Ales and India Pale Ales. Although they are consistent and highly drinkable, unfortunately they often lack any unique Japanese characteristic – i.e., no Japanese ingredients.
Today I had a small get together with current and former colleagues at Craftrock Brewpub & Live, a new brewpub that has live music on some weekends and is located in the new Coredo Muromachi Terrace Building close to Mitsukoshimae Station and next to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The place is brightly lit with beer taps lining the wall. The waitress explained that the 13 beers on the menu are brewed in house with three guest beers – one of which was, oddly enough, Heineken.
The first beer we had was Boys Don’t Cry Chai Version, a Chocolate Milk Porter which was being offered for half price. Normally I like Porters and Stouts, but this was a little watery and flat — my mouth craved more excitement. Next I had the Zesty Lady…get it? Just in case you didn’t, the menu makes it clear that the beer or the name is inspired by Jimi Hendrix. A Strong Pale Ale with Hassaku and Iyokan Japanese citrus, this beer was the only one on the menu that seemed uniquely Japanese. Slightly hazy and reddish brown, the beer had a very distinct citrus flavor. Both refreshing and flavorful at the same time, this beer was a whole lot better.
The food was typical bar food. We ordered the “loaded fries,” which were French fries topped with two toppings of your choice. We chose the cheese and bacon topping and the anchovy oil. Unfortunately, as is the case with many Japanese establishments, the fries were most likely frozen and, of course, not freshly cut. The toppings were ok, but half way through they started to feel heavy. The five-appetizer plate was next. The waitress told us each appetizer was small, so we were advised to get three servings of the Jamon Serrano and two servings of the cheese.
She was right: there were two tiny morsels of three types of cheese. The ham was better, but we did order three servings of the ham.
The entire bill for three people was a little under 7,000 yen, including two beers each, but that’s with half-off beer and a 2,000-yen-off coupon that we had clipped from a free paper. The amount of food was decent, but we still had an appetite for some ramen noodles at another establishment.
Recommendation level (out of five stars): ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
If you are nearby or have a coupon, perhaps you should stop by for some drinks and some bar food. The beer is good, especially Zexy Lady. If more of the offerings incorporated local ingredients, it would be even better. We tried only a very limited number of food items on the menu, but what we did try was quite ok.
We have written a book. For more information on Japanese beverages, please check it out. You can get it at fine offline and online booksellers in Japan, including Amazon.