It’s been a few years since I last went to Roppongi to imbibe in the Belgian Beer Weekend. At that time, they started to do the Belgian Beer Weekend for 2 weekends. They haven’t stopped and it almost spans 2 weeks now. It is a very successful event and it is a very crowded event. You can see a lot of people there every day and it is definitely a successful event. Since it had been a few years since my last visit, I was finally able to make it out again and I had a good time.
The BBW is all about showcasing Belgian beer and for the Belgian embassy to showcase Belgium. All over you can see people from the embassy working closely with the organizers and other sponsors. The main attraction is the beer, but the entertainment is also important. They bring in various Belgian bands for the entire festival as well as having different events. When I went, they had some sort of glass washing contest.
The first thing you really need to do is go early. That is the only way you’ll get a table. The only other way to get a table is to just hover around people. I got lucky after about 30 minutes to get a table at the front of the stage. They were just ending the contest and starting to hand out awards when they let us steal tables.
The beer at the event is not cheap. It is actually pretty expensive. The system hasn’t changed. It is 3100 JPY for a starter kit. This includes a small guidebook to the beers, a map with prices, a glass for the beer, and 11 tokens. You get tokens to help pay for everything and 1 token is about 200 JPY plus tax. You can buy 5 more tokens for 1050 JPY, but you can’t buy just 1. It is a sneaky deal to get people to buy more tokens, or just not use them. If you do have extra tokens, they do have a waffle stand that sells a single waffle for 1 coin.
The beer itself is pretty expensive. The most expensive beer is 5 tokens. At 1050 JPY for a 250mL glass of beer, it is very expensive. The main reason I like going is to be with friends, meet new friends, and to also try different beers. I try to get beers that I normally wouldn’t have a chance to drink. It can be hard to get Belgian beer in Tokyo, but things are improving.
The BBW is a great event, and a great marketing tool for Belgium. If you are in need of a beer glass, it is definitely a good way to get a somewhat specialized glass that can help enhance the flavours of Belgian beer. If you want to go to a place that is almost always full of people and some interesting Belgian bands, you have to go to BBW. For me, going for just a day for a couple beers is more than enough. Just be aware that a few of the premium beers are near 10% in alcohol and it will cause you to stumble home after just a couple glasses!