Andrew’s world in Japan

Andrew Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process &connecting with other creative people.

Kirin brewery custom auto

Kirin brewery custom auto

A Bit Of Beverage Culture Brewery Tour

Kirin beer Village exterior

Kirin beer Village exterior

Life is a delicious journey that rarely seems to stumble. Mostly I seem to talk about ramen in this column, but besides noodle soups, sandwiches and teas, I love beer. Never is there a moment when it seems inappropriate. The standard American version of the Czech lager still holds the mass market around the globe, but certain changes relaxing strict tax rules and laws that prohibit brewing under certain quantities have led to the resurgence of wonderful new recipes and with them, stories. Ever since the trip our middle school class took to the Franz bread factory, I’ve been hooked on visiting production facilities. Quite possibly it just suits my personal interest in the process of making things. Japan seems to also have a love for offering visits to places of production as well.

Most major cities have at least one brewery you can visit and sample the goods. Hey, don’t miss the sampling, that’s the best part! If you’re in a location of lower population density, quite likely you can uncover some micro/craft/home brew gem. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Orion breweries. Seen one you’ve seen them all you say? Well, that’s where that sampling part really wets that parched whistle of yours. Most samples are free, and occasionally you get to taste beverages not made for mass consumption or limited edition seasonal goodies.

Ok, enough with my promotional technique, if you’re not going on your own, no worries. I can walk you through it here. First, call and get the hours of tours and if you need to RSVP. Walk-in’s might be

Kirin beer garden taster

Kirin beer garden taster

possible, but better not to risk wasting your limited travel time. My fi rst tour in Yokohama was at the home of the mythical hoofed Chinese chimerical creature, Kirin. It’s just down the way from the aptly named Namamugi JR railway station.

At the entrance to the brewery, you can snap a picture along a giant bottle of Kirin. Step inside and be greeted by a wall of bubbly beer goodness. A two minute video gets you up to speed on Kirin and the basic ingredients, malt and hops, that go into making a fi ne lager beer. Flowing along, next are the wort tuns that extract the sugars to be fermented in the following stage. Pause from the industrial workings and turn to enjoy some history. Neatly organized German beer steins on display whet your appetite for the glass awaiting you at the end of the line. Interspersed between the history, the bottling facility lets you gaze from afar what will soon be gracing the shelves of you local grocer.

With this, the group funnels out into the Spring Valley pub to sample three ever so slightly different crisp Kirin lagers. After, you can stock up in the gift shop on more beer or other paraphernalia. I purchased a set of six Japanese size beer glasses that work great for sharing a 22oz size bottle with your group of drinking companions. On our way around Japan, let’s try some of the smaller micro-brewed craft beers next time. Until then, safe travels.

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