One evening we heard of a bar with over 70 taps, most of them Japanese craft beers, and we felt we really needed to track the place down. Popeye Beer Club is reasonably small and unprepossessing from the outside but once sat down and presented with a menu I was just blown away.
On the night we visited there were a staggering 78 taps on, almost all Japanese and almost all that I’d never heard of before. This actually posed a bit of a problem for me as I had absolutely no idea where to start. I therefore asked a friendly waiter and he recommended a Bairdbeer double IPA. This was full bodied, quite fizzy, cloudy and packed full of new world, fruity hops. There’s a really decent bitterness and it’s very enjoyable. Other choices for the first round were Hinomaru Best Bitter, Shakespeare Stout, Swanlake Porter, Yoho Yonayona Pale Ale and the excellent Yohobrewing Belgian Wit.
Having had time to digest the massive menu while sipping the IPA I wanted to try a couple of interesting things, first their ‘Hops Heart’. This is a device that allows beer to be poured through fresh hops, effectively dry hopping it at the point of delivery. I tried a Preston Pale Ale two different ways though sadly have so far not been able to translate the names of the hops. Hop A produced a sweet, floral, passionfruit flavour that was quite subtle while Hop B was much earthier with a deeper, slightly more grassy flavour and a bitterer aftertaste. Both were cloudy.
I then ordered what I should have started with: a selection of ten small tasters.
1 Baird Beer Rising Sun was hoppy, cloudy and quite fizzy hinting at satsuma, passionfruit and grape.
2 Swanlake Amber Ale had a darker colour and a sweeter rich malt taste. Still full of hop, I felt it was more rounded.
3 Brimmer Brewing Sauvin Wheat was clear, clovey and subtly sweet. A lovely beer but I couldn’t taste the Sauvin.
4 Fujizakura Kougen Rauch tasted pretty smokey as expected but was perhaps sweeter and hoppier than it’s Bavarian counter parts.
5 Extra Pils 25+10 was a really good rich bitter pils. It was a darker red than expected.
6 Swanlake Brewing Porter was very roasted on the nose but smooth to drink, a little sweet and warming.
7 Onidensetu Pale Ale had a fantastic fruity nose with passionfruit and grapefruit. A little bitter but pretty nice.
8 Prestonale Stout smelled richly of chocolate and coffee but had a very light body and a sweet and smooth taste.
9 Shounen Beer Golden Ale had a subtly fruity nose, was quite malty on the tongue and a tiny bit bitter.
The evening was enjoyed by all, food was good, the staff very friendly and helpful and at the end of the evening some of us joined and were presented with wonderfully kitsch gold membership cards. If you want to try local craft beer in Tokyo this is an excellent place to start.