Often touted as Tokyo's apex of cool, Koenji is a maze of narrow mixed-use streets, where the city's trendsetters, en route to hip cafes, cross paths with pensioners browsing cheap vegetables and various knickknacks.

Koenji is a neighborhood that seemingly has it all, or at least something for everyone. This extends to the area's beer bars, from British alehouses to local brewpubs and maid cafes.

My day starts with a late lunch at El Pato, which dishes up authentic American diner fare and has two taps dedicated to Nagano Prefecture's Shiga Kogen Beer and a small but well curated bottle list sporting American west coast brews, including several from San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing, which occupies a hallowed place in the story of American beer. Anchor, which can trace its history back to the 1849 gold rush, played a key role in jump-starting the revival of craft beer in the U.S. in the 1980s. Its flagship brew, Anchor Steam, is the standard-bearer of a distinctly American style of beer.