Traveling with a baby meant that I would not be able to really check out the craft beer pub scene in Tokyo. However, on a Sunday afternoon walking tour from Shibuya to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku, fate would have it that Google Maps would send us walking through the Jinnan neighborhood in Shibuya.
I had Craftheads, a no-nonsense Beer and Bourbon bar marked on my map just in case, and the route we were advised to walk through was just a street corner or two away. Thankfully, my loving wife offered to walk around the block with the baby and have a cup of coffee while I snuck into the basement bar for a quick libation. This setup worked well enough, as it appeared that they did not allow children, among other restrictions.
There is a large selection of both Japanese and imported craft beers on tap as well as some hard to find bottles. Pours are on the pricey side at around a thousand yen or so for a pint and slightly less for a smaller pour. Bottles are similarly priced, with higher-ABV and rarer ones being more pricey.
Aside from their collection of small batch bourbons, they also have a selection of Japanese whiskies. Of course, I was there for the beer, and they had a good range of ales from breweries that we do not commonly have access to in the Philippines, such as Alesmith, Founders, Lost Abbey/Port Brewing and The Bruery.
I ended up getting a bottle of Yumyum, a hoppy pale ale from Three Floyds Brewing in Indiana, USA. We don’t get this in the PH, although Global Beer Exchange brought in some of the Three Floyds/Mikkeller collaboration barleywines some time back. Craftheads also had some of those. The confirmed rumor is that they also have the occasional bottle of Dark Lord (an ultra-rare, festival-only brew that can only be purchased at the brewery once a year).
No real tasting notes on this one, other than that it was exactly as advertised, a hop-forward, well-balanced pale ale that hit all the proper notes, especially as this was the first real craft beer I had in Japan, despite having been there for a week at that point. I didn’t read the (English) menu properly. If I did, I would have ordered a pull of their IPA. I can’t recall, but they might have had Alpha King or another Three Floyds IPA or DIPA on tap. At any rate, Yumyum, was indeed, yum.
I chatted with a couple of Americans that sauntered in, of course plugging the strengthening craft scene in the Philippines. This was on the eve of the US elections, so if they didn’t vote because they were on holiday in Japan, then you can blame them for Trump. They were from CA and NY, so that would probably have been a Democrat vote.
I then tried ordering a bottle of Hair of the Dog Fred to bring back to the PH, but they said it wasn’t allowed to bring home bottles. That, or there was some sort of language barrier. I would have wanted to stay longer, but of course, the folks were waiting and there were places to go.
This would have been a fun place to visit with serious hopheads and at a more fun time than mid-afternoon. That said, I guess I can understand why, despite the polite staff and exceptional atmosphere, common folk would find craft beer bars such as this intimidating, and even snooty.
Craftheads is located at 1-13-10 B-1 Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo. They open on weekends at 3:00 pm and weekdays at 5:00 pm and close, as with many establishments in Tokyo, before or around midnight.