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Watering Hole in Yoyogi, Tokyo

Watering Hole selection
Watering hole from outside

Watering Hole Yoyogi, blink and you’ll walk past it.

Watering Hole Yoyogi (there’s no “The” in the name) has been open for over two years and is located about 5 minutes from JR Yoyogi station’s east exit, behind the NTT Docomo building. Watering Hole serves both Japanese craft beer as well as imported American craft beer. With a selection of craft beers in bottles and around 20 taps, depending on if the beers are in stock, there is plenty of choice.

Japanese craft beer for BeerTengoku.

Ask Hashimoto-san to choose a Japanese craft beer for you. He knows his stuff.

Inside of Watering Hole (Seriously they should have added a ‘The’) is quite spacious, with 10 seats at the bar and 8 tables around the edge of the bar. Open from 3pm, there were already 5 people in the bar when BeerTengoku arrived; some reading, some chatting, and some just drinking beer. The owners mentioned that it got busy from 6pm with the evening rush hour; however, there is plenty of place to stand if need be. There is also a small smoking booth inside the bar with space for one person, perhaps two maximum.

The bar staff are incredibly helpful, in terms of being able to select beers for you based on your preferred taste, or explaining each beer. The menus are in Japanese; however, some of the staff do speak English if you are in need of assistance. Moreover, their knowledge of Japanese craft beers is exemplary. BeerTengoku had a 25-minute conversation about the state of the Japanese craft beer market and its future with the main man.

Watering Hole selection

Watering Hole selection

The beer selection rotates daily and is hand written above the bar. It would have been nice to have seen something on their webpage; however, with this selection of beer, we will let them off. Beers are either sold in half US pint size (225ml), or US pint size (450ml) and vary in price from ¥750 for a half pint, to about ¥1200 for a pint, and with their bottles ranging from ¥900 to ¥5000 , yes ¥5000, to an imported Swiss beer. The bottles are mostly European, but they do have the three Kagua beers in stock.

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The beer flight was one of the more interesting things on the menu. The basic premise is that from 3pm to 6pm on weekdays, you can try any 4 beers on the menu for ¥1000 yen. Each beer is only 100ml, but with such an extensive range on tap – from lager, light ale, Belgian, fruit spice, IPA, dark ale, and strong ales – this is highly recommended, it allows you to try and find your beer for the evening. You can also do this as many times as you want, so those Untappd app users can build their collection.

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The food menu is pretty extensive, and everything is freshly cooked in front of you. Varying from fries to full meals, there is something for everyone. The portion sizes are reasonable, but not really enough to share unless one person is not hungry. The vegetables and meat are locally sourced where possible, and the vegetables are organic too. I don’t know if that affected the taste though, because after the final Yuzu beer I had, my taste buds were in overdrive.

In our aforementioned chat with the staff, we discovered that Ichiri Fujiura of Watering Hole is an award-winning homebrewer, and from 2015, Watering Hole is going to start brewing their own beer on-site with 8 tanks that have a capacity of 250 litres. There are plans for a porter, IPA, double IPA, coconut porter, mild, bitter, lager, and an amber ale. With this addition, there will be upwards of 30 beers on tap, with hand pumps as well.

Watering Hole One Paragraph Review

With a huge selection of beers, Watering Hole has got something for everything, especially with the wide range of Japanese craft beer on tap. Chilled out with some rock music in the background, Watering Hole is a great bar in Yoyogi that proves the craft beer market has a great future. Go for the beers, and stay for the conversation.

Watering Hole Details

Open: 15:00 to 23:30 every day. Last orders: food 22:30, drink 23:00.

Phone: 03-6380-6115

Homepage (in Japanese): wateringhole.jp

SNS: Facebook / Twitter

How to Get to Watering Hole

About the Author

Rob

Been drinking beer since longer than I can remember. You can find me in a bar, on the slopes, or doing DIY. I enjoy porters, imperial porters, golden ales, and amber / viennas.

Comments 2

    1. Post
      Author

      True – Ichiri-san won the major award; however, with the current state of homebrew in Japan being a very very grey area, i.e. only beer less than 1% can be produced and everything above that is illegal besides the occasional accidental batch, it’s not something that we can really actively promote or talk about. A shame really as the domestic craft beer market could hit the point soon where people want to try their hand at brewing their own beer at home, and not go to Kiuchi Brewery to brew their own beers.

      Once the brewery next door is open up, we’re going to interview Ichiri-san over a few beers and sit down and chat with him but until then it’s a waiting game.

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