With a plethora of shopping and eating options, a visit north to Ikebukuro is worthwhile, and is less of a dizzying place than the likes of Shinjuku and Shibuya. Whilst you’re there, why not grab a craft beer? Yes, Japan is in the midst of a craft beer boom of late, with tailored bars serving varieties of locally produced beers from across Japan popping up annually. Ikebukuro is no stranger to this craze, and contains an array of options. Here, bars specializing in Japanese craft beers will be introduced, helping to give you an idea about where to drink.
PUMP Craft Beer Bar
3 Chome 8−3, Minami Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo.
This bar is a new addition to the craft beer family in Ikebukuro, opening just under a year ago at the time of writing. Situated a ten minute walk away from the hubbub of Ikebukuro station’s east exit, PUMP craft beer bar is sleek and relaxed, complete with a stylish wooden and metallic interior. This bar has up to 10 taps on offer at any time, with a good rotation of beers from around Japan, including beers from Niigata, Shizouka, and Osaka. Craft beers from the US are also regularly served.
1 Chome 16−8, Nishi Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo, 山口ビルB1.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for a British-style pub, head to Ale House, just a short 5 minute walk from Ikebukuro station’s west exit. Decorated with British musical memorabilia, this underground pub has a lively atmosphere, with a strong lineup of bottled beers, world favourites, and Japanese craft beers. Although much like other western-style pubs in Tokyo, this bar boasts Japanese craft beers on tap which change weekly, staff that speak good English, as well as regular live music events and sport screenings.
Vivo! Beer + Dining Bar
1 Chome 20−5, Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo, 七富久ビルB1F.
This bar is by far the most established of bars offering craft beer in Ikebukuro, and is situated conveniently amongst one of the entertainment districts just east of the station. This bar has a strong lineup of Japanese beers on offer, with up to 20 taps to choose from. Beers range in sizes, and can be tailored to more familiar UK or US pint sizes, at an extra price. Special brews and seasonal varieties are frequently on offer here, with staff demonstrating good knowledge and pouring skills. This bar has a cozy feeling, with a warm, wooden decor.
The bars all provide food options synonymous with beer drinking, such as pizza, fries, and meat dishes. With the exception of Ale House, bars are non-smoking, with limited cubicles or outdoor space provided for people to go and smoke. Unfortunately, craft beer doesn’t come cheap, with drinks ranging from 700-1000 yen a glass. However, craft beer should be regarded as an emerging delicacy of Japan, much like good sushi or sake. Head to Ikebukuro to be a part of it!