Scottish craft brewery BrewDog made its first foray into Asia with the opening of its own bar in Roppongi, Tokyo, on March 1. At a preopening event the night before, the company invited guests to try some of its most popular craft beers on tap.
Starting off as a two-man operation in 2007, BrewDog quickly went on to become the largest independent brewery in Scotland. The company is renowned for crazy stunts such as brewing beer on the bottom of the ocean and, more recently, releasing a protest brew with a Warhol-esque label depicting Vladimir Putin wearing makeup slapped on the bottle (with half the proceeds going to charity).
BrewDog also continues to break records for creating the world’s strongest beers. Its first such achievement, Tokyo*, was a whopping 18.2 percent alcoholic beer that was banned from public sale in Britain by regulatory body Portman Group. BrewDog has since come up with other deadly creations, such as a 55-percent beer called The End of History that is packaged in stuffed animals.
“As you reduce the temperature (of the beer), ice crystals begin to form in the water. They scrape off the ice crystals, reheat, and then the beer is more intense in alcohol, and they repeat the process again and again,” explains BrewDog Japan director Bill Dykes as he shows off a bottle of The End of History shoved down the throat of a dead squirrel.
Unfortunately, while The End of History is no longer for sale even if you could afford the $765 price tag, BrewDog Tokyo has a wide range of beers on tap, and is constantly introducing new flavors to spice things up. If you want to start off slow, try its flagship 5.6-percent Punk IPA (¥750 for a half-pint, ¥950 for two-thirds; pints are not advertised but you can ask at the counter), a light golden brew that gives off a fruity fragrance and leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste. Dead Pony Club (¥800, ¥1,100) is a Californian Pale Ale that also gives off a delightful floral scent. If you’re into darker brews, you can try the Libertine Black Ale (¥850, ¥1,200), which gives off a scent and taste reminiscent of coffee. My personal favorite: the Hardcore IPA (¥850, ¥1,200), which is heavy on hops and bitterness but should come with a warning label since it is 9.2-percent alcohol.
With 20 taps running in the bar, there’s a beer to suit every taste. In addition to the six main beers, four other taps will be special editions, some exclusive to BrewDog bars. The establishment also features beers made by other breweries all over the world.
“On the other side we have 10 guest beers which we’ll be rotating,” says BrewDog Japan CEO David Croll as he gives me a tour of the bar. “We have Japanese beers, American beers, Italian beers, New Zealand. They’re all very good.”
1F Saito Bldg., 5-3-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 03-6447-4160; www.brewdogbar.jp. Angela Erika Kubo is a freelance writer and bar lover based in Tokyo.