Japan's Best Brew Pubs: Baird Taproom

The recipe for a fantastic Brew Pub is pretty simple: good food, good atmosphere, and, of course, great beer.  While the number of Brew Pubs is starting to grow throughout Japan with the rise of microbrews and passion for craft beer, allow me to introduce you to my favorite: 

Baird Taproom

Baird Beer was started by an American and his Japanese wife in the town of Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture.  The couple brought their passion for beer to the town's fishmarket, opening up the first Taproom in 2000.  Believe it or not, the place started with just Bryan Baird brewing the beer and his wife Sayuri cooking and serving.

Photo courtesy of bairdbeer.com

The couple started this business with three principles in mind (or "pillars," as they call them): perfectly dispensed draught Baird Beer, delicious made-from-scratch 'craft cuisine', and omotenashi--Japanese for hospitality.  Customers who visit Baird Taprooms are the benefactors of these pillars that together form one heckuva brew pub.

There are six Baird Taprooms in all throughout the Kanto region of Japan (though I expect these to expand in time).  Check the website here to see exactly where they are.

Each brew pub offers the same selection of delicious craft beers, but be aware that with the "delicious made-from-scratch craft cuisine" that the Baird couple heralds, each taproom has a unique menu.  

For example...

...the Baird Taproom in Harajuku offers Japanese Izakaya-style cuisine...

...the Nakameguro Taproom (my favorite) specializes in unique pizzas...

...and the Bashamichi (in Yokohama) brew pub offers American style BBQ.

You really can't go wrong with any of those choices--it's really just up to you as to what cuisine you're feeling!

But at the end of the day, the star of the dining experience is the beer.  Boy, is it fantastic.  Baird Beer offers 14 year-round varieties and usually throws one-to-three seasonal varieties into the mix as well. 

Photo Courtesy of bairdbeer.com

You can find everything from IPAs to Amber Ales to Stouts to Bocks (it really does offer the best selection of craft beers from a single brewer in Japan) and every single one of them is delicious (my personal favorite, however, is the Kurofune Porter). 

Also, I am not one to fawn over label art, but Baird Beer takes great pride in telling a story through the flavors of its beers and the label that represents them.  They are works of art, really.  Take the Shimaguni Stout, for example:
Photo Courtesy of bairdbeer.com
As a note: Baird Taproom's are all non-smoking establishments--which I know is a plus for many travelers who are astonished at the liberal smoking laws in Japanese restaurants.  The Baird couple wanted to ensure that everyone focused on the aroma of great beer and good food, not cigarettes!

So there you have it...

...Japan's best brew pubs (and craft beer, if you ask me!).  If you are into good food, great beer, and a wonderful atmosphere, I say zehi, make your way to a Baird Taproom and enjoy!

(Cover Photo Courtesy of bairdbeer.com)

Mike B