Beer Island The Bottom Line
Despite Beer Island being in the red light district, or so it seemed, of Okayama, I thought Beer Island was one of the better places – if not best place – in Okayama for a couple of cold, craft beers. The inside does look like something out of Japanese snack bar – because it is, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’re going to get ripped off or pay extortionate amounts for beers. There is a table charge of ¥300 and the whole place is non-smoking with some friendly bar staff too who love their craft beer and want to educate people about it too. There is also some free WiFi and no table charges either. The downside to Beer Island is that there is a smattering of English on the menus, so make sure you go with someone who can read katakana and kanji.
Beer Island The Full Review
I had been told about a seedy area of Okayama that had a craft beer bar in there – it’s not often we get dragged to red light districts for beer, but if someone says there is craft beer and it’s affordable, then I’m up for at least looking. It wasn’t until we came to the area where Beer Island is located that it was obvious the red light district. Snack bars, pubs, and other establishments of insalubrious nature were up and down the road – how could a place like Beer Island survive? Well after stepping in, I admit I was pleasantly surprised, and will admit I was wrong to judge a place from the outside – just this once though.
Beer Island is located about 15 minutes from Okayama station, though you can also get there from Tamachi Station on the Okayama Electric Tramway. If you do walk from Okayama station, it’s a nice walk along the river to the bar, so I highly recommend that. Stepping inside Beer Island is a surreal experience – everything about it screams “snack bar” – from the long counter with space for the mama-san to talk to customers, to the low stalls, the sofas scooched up together to let customers talk close to each other, the closed off kitchen. But it is much lighter and less garish than other snack bars. Beer Island has space for about 20 people inside with 7 people at the counter and others at seats dotted around. Beer Island is non-smoking though it does have a table charge of ¥300 though. There is also some free Wifi too for those wanting to share interesting picture with their friends.
Beer Island has 10 taps of beer on, with a heavy leaning towards domestic breweries, with some imports on from time to time, and one of those taps being a macro lager so you can come here with non-craft beer drinkers. The beers come in three sizes: small (265ml) from ¥500, medium (320ml) from ¥750, and large (420ml) from ¥950. Beer Island does have the dreaded Tap Marche on but I ignored that and stuck with the other breweries. There is also a beer flight option that gets you 3 x 175ml glasses for ¥1200, 4 x 175ml glasses for ¥1500, and 5 x 175ml glasses for ¥1800, with any beers on the menu at your choice – however you can only order one set per person as it’s a pretty good deal. There isn’t a happy hour though at Beer Island.
In terms of food, we didn’t order any at Beer Island but the basics are pretty much there with chips and the standard offerings at a craft beer bar it seems. Vegetarians are covered with a few choices but probably not enough to order from. The menus do require working knowledge of katakana and kanji, though the staff were more than willing to explain things in basic English despite our protestations that we could read the menus.
Beer Island Details
Open: Monday to Saturday 18:00 – 02:00 (L.O Food 01:00 Drink 01:30)
Happy Hour: None
Homepage (in Japanese): https://beer-island.com/
Social Media: Facebook / Instagram
How to Get to Beer Island
Beer Island is located about 15 minutes from Okayama station, though you can also get there from Tamachi Station on the Okayama Electric Tramway.