Tokyo isn’t known for being a cheap place for eating or drinking but if you look hard enough, or follow BeerTengoku, then you may have come across some craft beer bars that are cheap and are worth visiting. The only problem though is that there may be hidden costs or disadvantages: table charges, tax not included, or smoking throughout. In this article about drinking on the cheap, we’re going to list the ten cheapest craft beer bars in Tokyo; however, these will not appear in any ranking or order as bars are a subjective thing – how can bar X be better than bar Y if you have to stand up?
The only constraints for the following bars are
- that they have to be cheap throughout the day so no special happy hours are included in this list of cheap bars(that’s another article coming up soon) as we know that not everyone can get to a bar at say 5pm if they finish work at 6:30pm;
- have to be located in Tokyo’s 23 wards;
- we have to have visited them so we know that the prices are cheap and if they do, or do not, include tax.
Without much further ado:
1) Shinshu Osake Mura
A perennial favourite among craft beer fans – offering cheap cans and bottles of beer from the Nagano region of Japan, along with snacks and finger food from the area too. It’s open from 11am, has a massive range of bottled and canned beer from Nagano, with two taps of draft beer. The only major problem with Shinshu Osake Mura is that it is standing room only, so gets busy later on in the day. and closes early.
Beer Cost: Varies from beer to beer but generally 600yen a US pint, cans and bottles same as direct from brewery.
2) Craft Beer Market
A chain of craft beer bars that offers US pints at 780yen throughout the day, though you do need to add on a table charge (~¥320) and add on tax to the prices as well. If you go, then go for three pints or more to keep the price down a bit. There’s plenty of choices of which one to go to, but our favourite tends to be Jimbocho Terrace or Otemachi, mainly because both have seating areas outside.
Beer Cost: Small (270ml) ¥480 / Large (470ml) ¥780
3) Craft Beer Bar iBrew
A small little self-styled dive bar near Ginza-icchome station – looks like a run down shop but step inside and the hustle and bustle behind the counter makes it look different. Along with the sister bar Craft Beer Bar Wired, which focuses more on imported craft beer, beers are cheap and the prices include tax. One of the main downsides is the smoking area sometimes fills up and overflows.
Beer Cost: Regular (220ml) ¥421 / Large (450ml) ¥745
4) Bakushu Kobo
The bakushu kobos are a chain of brewpubs across Tokyo, that started out in the western area and have slowly spread along the JR Chuo line, making their Yamanote line debut in 2016 in Takadanobaba. While the quality of the beers, and pours, does vary, they offer cheap beers throughout the day. They all have their own feeling, with Koenji’s neighbourhood setting being particular endearing.
Beer Cost: Regular (350ml) ¥410 to ¥700
A strange choice considering our review said that the non-Ushitora beers were expensive but pop along for their own beers and it turns out to be reasonable. 900yen for a US pint with prices that include tax and no table charge. Make sure you do stick to their in-house beers though, otherwise the session could become expensive.
As of December 2016, the bar has moved to a new location on the west side of the train tracks.
Beer Cost: Small (270ml) ¥630 to ¥680 / Large (470ml) at ¥900. Others Small ¥730 to ¥930 / Large from ¥1150 to ¥1500
Review: Ushitora in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo
Like Craft Beer Market, Craftsman is a chain of bars with locations in Kichijoji (under the name of Craft and Romance), Gotanda, and Yokohama. Their prices are quite reasonable, at 830 yen or so but prices don’t include tax and there is also a table charge to think about. The bars are non-smoking too as well. Our favourite is the Kichijoji location, mainly because on a sunny day, looking over the area with a cold pint in hand is nigh on impossible to beat and it’s the cheapest of the three branches.
Beer Cost: Small (240ml) ¥500 / Regular (470ml) ¥800
Review: Craft And Romance in Kichijoji
7) Craft Beer Server Land
Not an easy bar to find but again, cheap beers on offer if not for the table charge, which is one of the most expensive in Japan. The menu is wide and varied, with about 20 taps of craft beer on at any one time, with an English menu available too. The prices do include tax though so there isn’t too much of a surprise. Moreover, it’s pay as you go drinking.
Beer Cost: Medium (250ml) ¥500 / US pints (473ml) for ¥840
One of the first places reviewed on BeerTengoku and still one of the cheapest, if not the easiest to get to. Campion Ale is a working brewpub specialising in British style beers, and the beers come in UK sizes too. All the prices include tax and there is no table charge. While the menu might not be that wide, with there usually being four beers on tap at one time, the styles are varied.
Beer Cost: Small (268ml) ¥600 / Medium (379ml) ¥750 / Large (568ml) ¥1050.
Review: Campion Ale in Asakusa, Tokyo
Technically a shop like Shinshu Osake Mura, they don’t allow large groups of people to drink inside, so if you’re looking for some decent beers and are alone or in a small group, then here is a good bet to have a good time. It costs an extra 100yen to drink the beer inside – a small price to pay if you like craft beer and Star Wars.
10) Vector Beer
Two bars for the price of one here, with pints at 750yen including tax, though you have to add on table charge for this place. Also, both of the bars are fully smoking, so if you can, get to Vector Beer and sit outside for some ventilation. A shame really as we would go here more often due to it being one of, if not the, cheapest place in Shinjuku for craft beer.
Beer Cost: Small (250ml) ¥450 / Regular (470ml) ¥750
Review: Vector Beer in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Have we not included a bar that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below.