A short distance from Shibuya's madding crowds is Craftheads, a veteran bar in Tokyo's craft beer scene. I drift into this basement bar, grab a seat and reach for the menu before the masses arrive. I find a short roster of stalwart Japanese beers overshadowed by a catalog of American ales that are hard to find in Japan. The bottle menu in particular reads like a beer geek's Christmas list — including brews from Lost Abbey, The Bruery, Founders and AleSmith but, with prices exceeding ¥4,000, I opt for a more reasonable ¥1,200 bottle of Alpha King from Three Floyds in Indiana. This pale ale packs an initial punch with its caramel malts and grapefruit bitterness, but that soon gives way to a minty, astringent finish — delicious. Reaching the bottom of my bottle, I head for somewhere a little cozier.

The prices at Øl (pronounced like "pool" without the "p") also run high but its selection of Scandinavian brews is unbeatable. In a brewscape so dominated by American imports, this distinction alone merits a visit. Øl's aesthetic is minimal and functional, with blond wood and warm lighting characteristic of Scandinavian interior design. It even has a little koselig, the Norwegian equivalent of the Danish hygge, a particular brand of coziness that refers to life's simple pleasures: fireplaces, warm socks, hot drinks, family. Øl's location was formerly occupied by the Danish brewery Mikkeller. At the beginning of October the new owners began an official partnership with Oslo Brewing Co. and five of Øl's 20 taps are now dedicated to the brewery's light, simple lagers and pilsners.

I start with a refreshing Blueberry Wit, which has just a touch of tart blueberry, before ordering a Double IPA from the Norwegian brewery 7 Fjell Ulriken. The Double IPA is a well-balanced beer with piney hops, caramel undertones and a citrus snap.