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Friday, Feb. 4, 2011

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TOKYO FOOD FILE

Bayside brews


Plenty of beer has been sunk in Yokohama over the past century and a half since the opening of the port. That tradition is very much alive today, and the city remains one of Japan's strongholds for brewing, from mass-market suds to limited-edition craft ales.

If it's the former that inspire you, then sign up for a tour of the Kirin Beer Village in Yokohama's delightfully named Namamugi (Fresh Barley) district. After inspecting the high-tech production line for 50 minutes, visitors are rewarded with a welcome glass of very fresh lager.

At the artisan beer level, the Yokohama Brewery near Kannai has developed a strong following, and its in-house ground-floor bar, Pivovar, is popular with craft-beer enthusiasts. Despite the Czech name, it offers more than just pilsners, with the Yokohama IPA one of the best on offer. Be warned, the setting is less than scenic and the second-floor restaurant is not worth your time, especially since the barbecue at Baird's Bashamichi Taproom is just down the street.

If you're in the Motomachi area and looking for premium ales with your dinner, the friendly, easy-going

Charcoal Bar & Grill Green is well worth knowing. Open a couple of years now, it serves a great selection of grills and pastas, supplemented with three craft beers on tap — often including one each from Baird and Yokohama Brewery — plus a good wine selection. The staff and menu are fully bilingual, the atmosphere is lively, and it stays open till the wee hours. Yokohama needs more places like this.

Kirin Beer Village, 1-17-1 Namamugi, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama; (045) 503-8250; www.kirin.co.jp/about/brewery/factoryyokohama. Tours every half-hour 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; reservations required. Nearest station: Namamugi (Keihin Kyuko Line).
Pivovar, Yokohama Brewery, 6-68-1 Sumiyoshi, Naka-ku, Yokohama; (045) 640-0271; yokohamabeer.comrestaurant. Open daily 5-11 p.m. (Sat., Sun. and hols 1-11 p.m.). Nearest stations: Sakuragicho and Kannai (JR Negishi Line).
Charcoal Bar & Grill Green, 1-8 Ishikawacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama; (045) 662-5993; greenyokohama.com. Open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. (Sat. and Sun. 4 p.m.-2 a.m.); closed Tues. Nearest station: Ishikawacho (JR Negishi Line).


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