If one of the reasons you've come to Japan is to sample the delights of Japanese beer, then these four places are bound to satisfy your thirst. Kirin, Asahi, and Sapporo, three of Japan's most famous beers, can all be enjoyed at these four special venues. From brewery tours to tasting sessions, your guide to Japanese beer starts here:
Kirin Beer Village
(image by flickr.com)
Yokohama is the birthplace of Japanese beer. Kirin Beer was established in 1907 and the Yokohama Brewery is the oldest and biggest factory for Kirin. About 2000 350ml cans of beer are produced per minute. The brewery tour, “The Tour of the Secret Behind the Tastiness of Ichiban Shibori (First Pressing)” is free. There is no English guide but an English-language booklet has been prepared for the tour. The 50-minute tour proceeds together with the guide while viewing the manufacturing process behind glass. You can get comparison samples of the wort for both the first and second pressings, taste the malt and smell the hops. Through an explanation using video and exhibits, you can also find out about Kirin Beer’s selections and first pressings, the differences between draft beer and happoshu (low-malt beer) and other information. A brewery tour that fully utilizes the five senses delightfully continues onto the 20-minute tasting session afterwards. Try three kinds of beer with added snacks. Freshly-brewed beer is very mild with a smooth head and is notable for a clean finish. There is also a lecture on the tasty way to pour beer. For people who cannot drink beer, non-alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are available, too.
There are two restaurants at the Kirin Beer Village. The Beer Port offers barbeque and Jingisukan grill for families and friends to enjoy. At the Spring Valley, many brands of original beer are available which can only be tasted on the premises. The brewery tour and restaurants are crowded on the weekends, so making prior reservations will make things smoother. Through events such as interactive beer making classes and beer seminars, you can experience everything related to beer.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Kirin Beer Village
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kirin Beer Village
- Tours of Kirin Beer Village
Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
(image by アサヒビール)
The Ibaraki factory opened in 1991. Its 130,000 sq. meter grounds include Japan’s largest beer manufacturing line. In its beer division, 6 brands are brewed including the brand with the largest share in the nation, Super Dry. Outside of the factory, there is a battery of 150 fermentation tanks which can hold the equivalent of 1.4 million 350ml cans of beer! The part of the factory where the final stage of packaging takes place also has jet machines of considerable size. The sight of the many lines going at full speed is incredible.
The factory tour lasts for 90 minutes in which you get a deep understanding of the fermentation process through actual handling of the hops and malt, tank models and a video of the fermentation taking place. After the tour, the beer tasting takes place atop the 60m AIM Tower where you can drink up to 3 tumblers of 4 types of Super Dry. The snacks that are provided with the beer are only found at the Asahi Beer Factory. Popular and delicious, they can be bought as souvenirs at the 1st floor gift shop. Soft drinks are also provided so even non-drinkers can enjoy themselves. That one glass while looking over the Kanto Plain is an exceptional experience.
Another highlight is the lush open garden within the grounds. Located in front of the orientation theater before going on the factory tour, observers inside the factory might feel that they are right in the middle of the water since the pond has a higher location. In the garden, there are about 30 types of trees and flowering plants, and you can take a walk through the area before and after the tour.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
- Tours in Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
Yebisu Garden Place
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Yebisu Garden Place was born on the site of the former Sapporo Breweries. It is a multipurpose complex with a department store, a hotel, restaurants, movie theaters, a museum of art, etc. Yebisu beer is a premium beer with 100% malt developed by Sapporo Beer. Started over 100 years ago, it won the Gold Prize for excellence at the 3rd National Industrial Exhibition in 1890. After that, it brought so much influence that the area was called Ebisu.
The beautiful brick exterior is a remnant of the taste of what a brewery was like back in those days. There are events all year round in the Plaza. In particular, the Baccarat chandelier that appears every winter is a gorgeous event in itself. Along with the nighttime illumination, there is a magical atmosphere.
For epicureans, you have to try “Joel Robuchon” once. This is a French restaurant that has continued to be awarded three stars since the commemorable first issue of “Michelin Guide Tokyo 2008”, the first restaurant in Asia to do so. The cuisine and hospitality are naturally the world’s No. 1.
The final stop on the stroll is Yebisu Memorial Hall. A museum that is independently run by a beer brand is unusual even in Japan, but that name is derived from one of The Seven Gods of Fortune, Ebisu. Behind the hall, there is Ebisu Shrine which is popular with foreign visitors. The Yebisu tour that relates the history of Yebisu Beer has 2 types of beer tasting for 500 yen. A brand communicator will teach you how to drink beer deliciously. We would definitely like you to try the taste that has been loved for an unchanging 120 years.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Yebisu Garden Place
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Yebisu Garden Place
- Tours in Yebisu Garden Place
Asahi Beer Hakata Brewery
(iimage by flickr.com)
The brewery is easily accessible after a 3-minute walk from Takeshita Station, just one stop away from Hakata Station. A factory that has introduced the largest solar generator in a domestic brewery, the beer which is made here is shipped to all parts of Kyushu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, the western part of Hiroshima Prefecture and South Korea. The 60-minute tour is on a reservation system which is done in 3 languages: Japanese, English and Korean (the 90-minute Japanese tour includes a video presentation), and prior reservations by phone is necessary. With your guide, you will actually touch the main ingredients of beer in the form of malt and hops, tour Brewery Plaza where you will be introduced to everything from the training to the brewing/maturing of beer, and view the process of the removal of yeast from the mature beer in the filtration room. After seeing the finished product being bottled and canned on the line, you will learn about the solar generator at the Ecostation.
Following the tour, you can enjoy sampling fresh draft beer in the tasting area. You can sample up to 3 tumblers of 3 types of beer within a 20-minute period with Asahi’s famous Asahi Super Dry, Asahi Super Dry Black and Asahi Super Dry Premium which has a rich taste due to carefully selected ingredients and a lot of time and effort put into the brewing. Also, another popular feature is some of the beer being served ice-cold through the Extra Cold server that is set at temperatures ranging from -2 to 0 degrees C. For people who can’t drink beer, soft drinks are also served. And original goods can be purchased at the gift shop. For those who can’t get enough of the beer, the adjoining Asahi Beer Garden is recommended for its fresh beer accompanying Jingiskan cuisine.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Asahi Beer Hakata Brewery
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Asahi Beer Hakata Brewery
- Tours in Asahi Beer Hakata Brewery
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