Craft Beer in Nagoya

Mark Guthrie Imbibes Nagoya’s Craft Beer Revolution


For regular readers of these pages, it will come as no great surprise that the NAGMAG staff is somewhat partial to the odd beer or two. Well it’s pretty much par for the course, hailing as some of us do from the British Isles.

Since arriving in Japan our tendencies have not dwindled, and we proudly boast Hub Pub membership cards the same shade of gold as Mr T’s wardrobe. However the beer selection in most establishments is piss weak and piss poor; the big three of Kirin, Sapporo and Super Dry may be ok for sloshing back with a bowl of izakaya karaage nankotsu, but they don’t exactly make a flavoursome pint for supping.

Fortunately, Nagoya seems to be in the grips of a beery revolution, with craft beer pubs sprouting up all over the place. Craft beer has nothing to do with global sensation of World of Warcraft (though die hard aficionados do tend to develop the same nerdish tendencies), but rather the global sensation of drinking top quality beers made either by international artisans or, in the case of brewpubs, on their own premises.

The one problem with craft pubs is that they have an intimidating reputation, as the clientele – beer bellied beardies with slavishly geeky knowledge of hops, or skinny hipsters (also bearded nowadays) achingly cool in both meanings of the word – tend to exude the daunting snobbery of a beer drinking elite. However Japan does it differently, and most places are populated with people who simply like a tipple, and like it made well. Let NAGMAG show you around the top picks. Vive le revolution!

Craft Beer Keg
Craft Beer Keg is Nagoya’s first craft beer specialist, and has the atmosphere of an afternoon coffee shop rather than a boozer. The Keg predominantly sells Japanese craft beers and there are 13 taps which change with such regularity it’ll make your head spin. Last time Nagmag was there we had a fantastic Outsider Brewing cider, but once that keg is empty it’s replaced with something totally new. The food menu is pretty good too, with interesting choices such as rum gyoza.
Smoking?: No.
Would you kindly be seated outdoors?
Nearest Subway: Hisaya Odori

Craft Beer Keg
1-10-3 Higashi-sakura, Higashi-ku
Tel: (052) 971-8211

You would be forgiven for thinking Grillman a simple burger joint. However, being under the Okadaya Liquors umbrella along with Keg, it’s always going to be much more than that. There is an ever-changing roster of ten Japanese beers to pick from, as well as local wines that can be matched to your meal. It’s slightly off the beaten track, being midway between the two stools of Fushimi and Sakae, but if you like good steak and great beer, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Smoking?: With all that grilling going on, it’s best if you smoke outside.
Nearest subway: Fushimi

2-11-13 Nishiki, Naka-ku
Tel: (052) 204-2914

23 Craft Beerz
Guess what they do here. That’s right, 23 Craft Beerz by name, 23 craft beers by nature. Not just a clever name, you are literally spoilt for choice. The atmosphere is a bit more laid back, and the food tends to be more along the pub grub genre (but a superior quality. Try the sausages, pricey, but perfect!) but the beer is still great. Sometimes a guest brewer like Stone’s will take all taps, and at others it is potluck. The menu board is helpfully in English as well as Japanese, and also comes with colour coding for the uninitiated e.g. a black glass for porters, a glass that looks like a tropical cocktail for the fruitier brews.

Smoking?: Nope. Outside please.
Nearest subway: Maranouchi

23 Craft Beerz
2-3-21 Marunouchi, Naka-ku
Tel: (052)265 9777

Tap Room
The newest kid on the block, Tap Room is a sister bar to 23 Craft Beerz, but befitting its more central location it has a much cooler vibe; the décor kind of reminds Nagmag of an upscale American Sports Bar we once went to in Gothenburg. Which is a good thing. While they don’t have quite the extensive selection, there are still a good ten to choose from including local beers from the Nagoya based Kinshachi Beer brewery. Food prices are pretty low for what you would expect for a craft pub, and while still tasty, it isn’t necessarily as good as its neighbours.

Smoking?: Yep, spark up.
Nearest Subway: Kokusai Center

Tap Room
Meieki 3-5-14,Nakamura-ku
Tel: (052) 485-6061

7 Days Brew
This writer’s favourite pub in town, 7 Days Brew is dead convenient to central Nagoya, being just behind Midland Square. Okay, it’s a bit pricey, and there is a ¥300 seating charge after 7, but the place is cooler than a pre-shark jump Arthur Fonzarelli. With all that pine, clean lines, funky hip hop and wall art it’s pretty much hipster heaven, but the reason that the first words from Nagmag’s lips are ‘7 Days’ when the ‘dousuru’ question is posed is the eleven beers available on tap. No matter the line up, which is ever-changing, there is always a good selection of IPAs on the menu, and on occasion you can find Minami Shinshuu Apple Hop from Nagano, quite possibly the best beer of all time. When all this is coupled with the frankly amazing octopus and avocado salad (seriously, sounds terrible, tastes fucking awesome), and the ¥100 off weekday happy hour, 7 Days are just not enough in a week.

Smoking?: We’ve got a table up on the third floor for you.
Nearest Subway: Nagoya Station

7 Days Brew
4-4-21 Meieki, Nakamura-ku
Tel: (052) 581-8844

Y Market Brewing
Nagoya’s first true craft brew pub has become something of a national sensation. Named after the Yanagibashi Chou Ichiba fishmarket in which it is located, Y Market Brewing makes their own beer on premises, and you can see this as you walk pat the windowed brewing room on the way up to the bar. The interior design is striking, a Mexican theme in bright colours, like one too many peyotes, but somehow matches the excellent tapas menu. But while the food is great, it’s the beer that’s the biggest draw, with the Meyon Lager and the Hop Seduction IPA being the best of the bunch. It is no surprise that these beers are popping up in Tokyo’s coolest pubs and festivals. Get in there now so you can say ‘I was there before it went huge!’

Smoking?: If you’d care to step out on the balcony, that’d be wonderful.
Nearest Subway: Kokusai Center

Y Market Brewing
4-17-6 Meieki, Nakamura-ku
Tel: (052) 533-5151

Popping their cherry in October (a joke for botany fans there) Cerasus is another new pub on the craft beer block. The bar itself is a little more humble than others, and a bit cramped in places, but the beer is top notch, the Lucky Bucket IPAs a particular treat. As well as great beers (the Brew Dog sign in the window is a reassuring opening, more of which later) the food is fantastic, with gourmet hams from all over Europe.

Smoking?: The ham is smoked and you can be too, should you so wish.
Nearest subway: Nagoya Station

Mori Bldg 3F
1-16-25 Meiekiminami, Nakamura-ku
Tel: (052) 571-2611

The Curragh
The Curragh, by strict definition, isn’t a craft pub. As to be expected from an Irish bar, when you walk in you are greeted by a huge Guinness tap next to one dispensing Heartland (not a bad lager as far as Japanese big three go), but scratch a little deeper and you’ll find treats aplenty. Whenever Nagmag pops in we always go straight for Brew Dog’s Punk IPA on draft, but there is a wider selection on bottle, such as Radical Road. Couple this with a great Fish and Chips and you’re on to a winner.

Smoking?: Ireland was the first country in Europe to ban smoking. The Curragh is far enough from the Taoiseach’s reach to be exempt.
Nearest subway: Sakae

The Curragh
Moriman Bldg. B1F, Nishiki 3-16-8, Naka-ku
Tel: (052) 265-9737

One response to “Craft Beer in Nagoya

  1. In Nagoya for a week… Looking to compare and put my Tampa Bay, FL beer palate to the test. Thank you for the website and direction for local beers! Wish you well!

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