Although sake might be the first alcoholic drink that comes to mind when you think about Japan, beer has been the most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan for eons.
Originally introduced to Japan by Dutch merchants in the 17th Century, this Nectar of the Gods has enjoyed a steady mainstay on menus all across the country since the days of yore. favoured by salarymen, housewives, and college kids alike, Beer, not Sake, is the King of the Alcoholic Beverages in this island country.
While Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi, and (Y)Ebisu have traditionally been at the very top in Japan, there has been a crafty little revolution brewing beneath the surface for a while, and now its gone mainstream.
The buzzword for beer connoisseurs these days is Craft Beer, which is beer made in a traditional, or non-mechanized way by independent breweries, who use their own ideas to come up with unique flavour combinations. Rich in taste, and smooth in texture, Craft Beers have a special something – that je ne sais quoi that once you try, keeps you coming back for more.
This new kid on the block is ready to shake things up… It’s new, it’s fresh… and dare I say, it’s healthier for you as well. You see, Craft Beer usually doesn’t have all the chemicals, like Silicone and Ammonia, which are prominent in most store-bought beers. That’s why the taste is fresher, purer, and more varied from beer to beer.
There are literally hundreds of independent microbreweries and pubs popping up all over Japan these days. Doesn’t matter what city you’re in, you’re sure to find one somewhere near you. A great app to help you is Craft Beer Japan
Should you find yourself in Nagoya, and in need of a good beer, I dare you to forego the comforts of a traditional Izakaya, and instead head to one of the many new Craft Beer places, which have sprung up in Nagoya like beautiful flowers in a desert of dull sameness recently. They have literally started a renaissance for Beer connoisseurs young and mature alike.
Nagoya has traditionally been a city quite resistant to changes. Called conservative by some, this city is usually very slow at adapting new things. The Craft Beer revolution has caught on like a wildfire here as well, however, with new pubs and restaurants popping up left, right and centre all over the city.
A few places that stand out, and are well worth a visit in Nagoya (in no particular order) are:
- Y-Market Brewing (Near Kokusai Centre). This is the Grand-Daddy of all the Craft Beer places in Nagoya, and I’m almost hesitant to give this insider tip away, since I love the place so much. Featuring their own brewery downstairs, you can be assured that the beers will be extremely fresh. Their smoke-free environment, friendly staff, great food choices, and constantly changing menu will appeal to novices and beer “experts” alike. The always fun atmosphere, always friendly staff, and always changing beer menu keep me coming back again and again to this Nagoya Craft Beer Institution.
- Brick Lane (Nishiki Area). If you think Burgers and Beer go together like peas and carrots, then this is your place! A fairly recent addition to the Scene, they concentrate on two things, which will always provide a magical gastronomical experience: Burgers and Beer. Hearty Burgers matched with a variety of 10 Beers (and Ciders) on Tap in a modern Atmosphere are always a winning combination. I’m sure this newcomer will have no problems fitting into the Craft Beer Scene here.
- Grillman Burger (Marunouchi / Fushimi ). These guys really understand the magical combination of Meat and (Craft) Beer. Offering anything from Steak to Burgers, the food plays as much a vital role as the beer at this recent addition to the Nagoya Gastro-Pub Scene. Though a bit on the pricy side, the food is always good, and the beer always fresh. Wrap it up with a relaxing atmosphere, and you’ve got a great recipe for a fun dining experience.
- Craft Beer Keg Nagoya (Sakae). Just a stone’s throw from the iconic TV tower makes this the perfect place for a quick beer after work – especially in the summer months. This chic Craft Beer Pub offers a good selection of Japanese micro-brews to indulge in. Their food choices are also quite decent, and will complement your beer(s) nicely.
- 23 Craft Beerz (Marunouchi). True to its Title, this fine establishment offers a truly impressive 23 Craft Beers on their ever-changing menu. It is certainly a daunting task to try them all, and will take you many visits. It’s well worth it, however; and you will not be disappointed with their selection, the quiet and relaxing atmosphere, the friendly staff, or the varieties of food on their menu.
- Himmel Craftbeer and Meat (Imaike). Introduced to the revitalised Imaike area only recently, this crafty establishment stays true to its name. You see, Himmel means Heaven in German, and that’s exactly what this place is – a heaven (or Haven, if you will) for Beer lovers. A bit on the pricey side, it’s probably best to come here after dinner, as their dishes tend to be a bit small for western tastes and appetites. Having said that, however, it is a fantastic place for some great beer (and Meat) in Imaike.
- Tap Room (Nagoya Station area). Another addition to the Nagoya Eki area, these guys specialise in Japanese Craft Beers, and have an extensive, and rather impressive menu ranging from Nagoya’s Kinshachi to internationally known Hitachino Nest. Although the sizes of the beers tend to be rather on the small side, their selection is good, and the trendy atmosphere will ensure a great time with good people.
- Chiken Boy (Imaike). Craft Beer and Yakitori in one place? What’s not to love… This newcomer to the Imaike Scene has a plethora of beers to offer, alongside their delicious Yakitori dishes. It’s a small place, but the friendly staff and relaxing atmosphere will win you over even before your first beer is finished.
- Cerasus (Nagoya Station / Fushimi Area). Another contender in the ever-growing and changing Meieki area, this new bar with the peculiar moniker offers some fine Craft Beers, Aged Ham, and handmade Pizzas. The combination of these three ingredients will keep you coming back for more, time after time.
So there you have it; the introductory list of the best Craft Beer places in Nagoya. Hopefully you will have lots of fun exploring the many new offerings in town. I’m actually kind of proud of Nagoya. Rather than continuing to be resistant to change, it has fully embraced this movement recently, and it is quite exciting to know the Craft Beer revolution is in full swing in Japan’s 3rd largest city these days.
If you want to keep up with the latest bars and restaurants serving craft beer, point your browsers to the following blog for always up-to-date information on the Craft Beer Scene in Nagoya:
For now, I’ll just say: Kanpai! Prost! Prosit! Sláinte! Salute! Sánte! Nastravlje! Kippis! Skál! Saúde! Salud! and Skål!, and hope you all have a great time exploring the scene!