Yebisu Garden Place was originally the site of Sapporo's Tokyo brewery, so it is only fitting that they would put their Beer Museum here. Not only is admission free, but the Tasting Lounge at the end of the course is a bargain for beer lovers. Getting there, however, requires that you first go through the museum, which can take anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour (depending on how eager you are for a beer).
The tour starts with the Yebisu Memorial Room, filled with ancient brewing equipment, historical photos, and beer labels from the 1880s onward. A large wall chart explains the evolution of Sapporo Beer from its predecessor companies - Nippon Beer and Dai Nippon Beer - which was eventually dismantled after WWII under the orders of the U.S. occupation. The U.S. military, however, did not put a halt to beer production, and the brewery was enlisted to provide beer for the troops. On display is a label from one of the bottles that proclaims:
For Use Of Allied Forces Only
Free of Tax
Please return all empty bottles.
The loss of bottles means that much less beer for you.
DAI NIPPON BREWERY CO., LTD.
No doubt the message encouraged the return of more empties than any deposit could have.
The museum continues with a gallery of advertising posters created over the years, along with TV monitors running old Sapporo beer commercials. Next are exhibits on the brewing process and beer history, followed by a small theater showing a 3D fairy-tale beer story that's sure to delight any children in your company. Most adults, however, will probably head down the small flight of stairs and into the Tasting Lounge.
Small glasses of beer are priced at only 200 yen here, and 400 yen will get you four sampler glasses of Sapporo's limited edition beers, which are rather difficult to find in pubs. On a recent visit I enjoyed tasting Sapporo's versions of Kolsch, Weiss, Weizen, and Ale. Guinness Stout is also offered, since Sapporo is the Japan importer, and Sapporo soft drinks are available.