There are many things that I missed about being in the bay area. Amazing food from all over the world is everywhere. Even though I am staying in a place that is quite far from San Francisco buses and trains easily and cheaply get you out to the city. On top of that there was one thing that I think people living in Japan are completely missing out on and that is good beer.
I love IPA beers but to be honest there are almost no good IPAs in Japan. Japan's beer culture now reminds me of what drinking beer was like in the late 90s in the USA. Of course there are good beers in Japan but they're not very complex in terms of taste. Many Japanese people think beer is good simply if it's easy to drink. This is the complete opposite of where beer has gone in the USA. Beer in America has a complex hoppy taste that you want to savor and not just quickly chug.
I went to several bars around the bay area and many of them had their own houses brews and guest beers and allowed you to compare different beers before you bought them. I don't think I have ever heard of that in Japan. I know there are sake tasting rooms and things like that but I have never seen a place that actually allows you the compare drinks at a bar and not at the actual brewery.
The only beer brands that I really like at this point are called Hitachino and Yo-Ho Brewing Company. They don't have a huge selection of beers but what they do have is really good. When you contrast it to California it just makes you realize that Japan doesn't have the type of beer culture that many western countries do. On the flip-side of things you are never going to find the kind of diversity in sake that Japan has in any country besides Japan.
It's funny because brands like Suntory and Kirin have released limited time only IPAs last year and I think that they are trying to test the waters to see if those type of beers will sell well in Japan. Some of my friends who live in Japan like more flavorful beers but most of them drink expensive imports. Smaller Japanese grocery stores have aisles of cheap beers, chu-hi, sake, and shochu but nothing in the way of high end beer. You can see that Japan is starting to change though and I hope in the next few years that Japan's brewing culture grows to something like California.