Tokyo Postcard: For Craft Beer, the Force is Strong with This One

Tokyo Beer Wars

On his first day at a new job he wore a jacket bearing the insignia of his former employer, Oracle. The new gig at a rival tech company was so much better than his old job, he tells me; way better.

“My old boss was very strict,” he says. “I stay very late, all the time, and work weekends, too. Now, more relaxed and don’t work so late.”

Did they notice you wearing an Oracle jacket? “No, no, they don’t mind.”

In contrast to the pissing mist of a rain blowing through the city on a chilly February evening, optimism abounds indoors at Beer Wars Tokyo, at least for the only other guy at the bar. The first day at a new gig is always either the best one or the worst one, isn’t it?

Good for him, tucking happily into plates of pickled avocado and smoked ham cutlets, chasing them with a regular-sized glass (880 yen) of Fat Scotch Ale from Silver City Brewery in Bremerton, Washington, and then another regular of Breaking Bud IPA from Knee Deep Brewing Co in Auburn, California. There are seven beers on tap, all of them from the United States of America, the place with more craft beer and more armed civilians than anywhere else on the planet.

Beer Wars Tokyo is crammed full of shit, everywhere. Cardboard boxes are shoved underneath all the table chairs; they’re that specific style of stiff plastic chair with metal legs that staff used to wheel out for grade school assemblies and science class. There are plastic buckets left nowhere in particular here and there on the floor, and large sake bottles line shelves on a wall upon which a random sci-fi flick is projected.

Related: A Tokyo Beer Story, Part III

There’s a refrigerator packed with bags of fresh herbs, sauces, and mystery meats to one side of the cozy space, next to a white wall that’s barren save for the words “rock out with your craft beer out!” that someone from San Diego brewery Acoustic Ales scrawled in black marker. The cold room, located within an open-view kitchen with pots and pans stacked from Beale Street to oblivion, looks like a bunker that weathered the storm of a nuclear blast. Amidst the chaos there’s a palpable order to things, however; it surrounds and penetrates the place; it binds the bar together.

From Tokyo Station it’s a short 20-minute walk to Beer Wars due east through quiet, mostly residential back streets, depending on which route you take. Every route is quiet on miserable February weekday nights, when pissing rain is the only thing that can dampen the promise of the first day of a new work life.

Before he left, the only other guy at the bar said that he’d be traveling some at his new job, and that he’d probably go to Singapore at some point soon. I told him to get in touch and that we could grab a beer, and we exchanged business cards. He passed me his old card, apologizing that the new ones hadn’t arrived yet.


Beer Wars Tokyo is open Monday to Friday from 5:30pm – 11:30pm, Saturday from 1pm – 10:30pm. Closed Sunday.

Brian Spencer
written by: Brian Spencer
Brian Spencer is a Singapore-based freelance journalist and the founder of Beer Travelist. Say hello at brian [a]