You’ll fully realize the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality when you visit Tokyo. The business men and women in the beautifully tailored suits can throw down outside the office. You would too if you worked the long hours in regimented offices under stressful conditions.
Not only do they drink, they drink well. No Bud Lights or Lime-a-ritas to be found. The Japanese have a unquenchable taste for international brands, importing the top booze from the around the globe.
This brought me to Popeye Beer Club on the east side of Tokyo. At least, I think it was the east side. Tokyo isn’t great for public wi-fi, so finding my way to 2-18-7 Ryogoku took several maps and help from a public works employee at the nearby bridge. You know you’re lost when somebody brings out a big rolling map and lays it out on a table.
When you do make it to P.B.C. you’ll be frothing at the mouth from 70 taps of obscure international and Japanese craft beers. Lucky enough, you can do a refreshing flight of beers. In America, a flight is usually four or five 4-oz. pours. Here, you get 10 bad boys from breweries like Fujizakura, Shirayuki, Isekadoya, Hidatakayama and Echigo to name a few. Told you the Japanese love to drink.
My guideline when going to beer bars is to have local beers I’ve never heard of so that every taste will be a new experience. With Popeye, you’re guarantee to discover a Japanese craft ale beyond Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and even Hitachino Nest that you can’t find in America. They’ll be a plenty of rice ales mixed in with the pilsners and pale ales.
Beyond the beers, P.B.C. is a study in cozying up to your neighbor. It’s a small space where they pack every drinker into available seats. Since I’m a solo traveler, I sat at a round table for five with two locals couples who knew little English. It was a lot smiling and nodding going on while I watched soccer on the TV.
What I remember best, or what I could remember after my 7th or 8th taster, was a sumo wrestling from the nearby academy sitting at a table. I was wondering if they would bring out one of those big German drinking boots for him but I guess he was watching his weight.