Great Japan Beer Festival

My first reaction when I heard about the Great Japan Beer Festival during Golden Week was, “Awesome, I like beer! Let’s go!” My second impression, after viewing the poorly designed and amateurish website was, “On second thought, this website is really lame. Maybe we shouldn’t go…” In the end, however, we spontaneously went to Tokyo during Golden Week and just as spontaneously decided to go to the beer festival.

When we arrived, we were at first awestruck by the enormous bouncers standing outside, towering above the crowd; something usually not seen in Japan. We got in a short line and purchased our tickets and entered. I immediately regretted not bringing in food, though there was a selection of “American Dogs”, hot dogs, yakisoba, and various snacks. We immediately bumped into some Gunma JETs who had just arrived as well.

The doors had opened at 2:30, but we arrived just in time for the kanpai at 3:00. A camera panned through the crowd, projecting our raised glasses onto a back screen. After the kanpai we started to make our rounds, with our friend marking down our opinions of each beer as we went along. We started at the A booths and throughout the festival, which lasted until 7:00, eventually made our way through all the booths (up to F).

The right side of the room was filled with a mix of German beers and Japanese beers (and Japanese breweries making German-style beers). Not a big fan of the darker beers, I tried a variety of pilsners, ambers, and light hefewizens and anything that was pale in color. One of my favorite was a yuzu-flavored beer that was quite refreshing. When we finally reached the back of the room, we found that there were buckets for dumping your extra beer and water for drinking or rinsing your glasses.

Of my several ventures the restroom, the first wait in line was about 30 minutes, but after that, most of the women disappeared, and the ratio of Japanese to non-Japanese people grew steadily more even. By the time we reached the left side of the room we were feeling suitably “relaxed”. I even bought an “American Dog” (hotdog on a stick), though it wasn’t my first choice; all the other food was sold out.

As we worked our way down the left side of the room our beer drinking became more selective, each of us choosing the type of beer we like the most. On this side I found my favorite beer, which was a light and slightly fruity Blanche made by a Japanese brewery. Actually, the left side of the room was entirely made of Japanese beers, half of which were sold out by 5 pm. Though the beers were not particularly international, there were some very good beers and I certainly felt we got our 5,000 yen worth of beer, plus souvenir glasses to take home.

All in all, if you can taste at least half of the 120 beers offered it is a worthwhile event, and going to Tokyo during Golden Week was much more relaxing than jostling with Japanese people in some picturesque location.

Event details:

The Great Japan Beer Festival
Over 120 microbrews featured.
Advanced tickets 4300/day, 4700 at the door.

Event Location:

The Garden Hall at Ebisu Garden Place
1-13-2, Mita, Meguro-ku,Tokyo

One Response to “Great Japan Beer Festival”
  1. Odelia says:

    Mmm, yuzu beer sounds wonderful.

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