Beer is truly a universally loved beverage. You can most likely get it anywhere in the world without trying hard, and Japan is no exception. While many foreigners tend to think that Japanese enjoy their sake more than any other alcoholic beverage, beer is actually heavily embedded in modern Japanese culture. Drinking a glass of beer at a nomikai (drinking party, often times with co-workers) is a scenery that you’ll often witness at the izakayas in Japan. If you’re a beer lover you may already know that Japan’s got some awesome beer. The Japanese have long been known for their attention to detail and this can certainly be said about their beers as well.
Instead of introducing you to a list of Japanese beers to try out, we’ll be introducing you to some Japanese breweries. Whether you’re traveling in Japan and you’ve got some time on your hands or already live here, here are 3 Japanese breweries that are worth checking out.
1. Sapporo Brewery – Funabashi, Chiba
Located in the seaside of Chiba, this brewery makes the perfect weekend getaway from Tokyo. When you arrive at the brewery, you’ll be blown away by the breathtaking view of the sea.
Founded in 1876, Sapporo is the oldest beer brand in Japan. Sapporo was originally founded by Seibei Nakagawa. Nakagawa, who was ahead of his time, left Japan at the age of 17 to travel overseas. After several years abroad, he eventually found himself in Germany where he was introduced to the brewing technology. After some time in Germany, Nakagawa returned to Japan with his newly acquired skills of brewing. While Sapporo may have had a humble start in the business, fast forward 142 years and it has established itself as Japan’s legendary beer and is considered to be the best-selling Asian beer in the U.S.
If you’re a fan of Sapporo’s well-known “Black Label”, make sure to sign up for the tour in advance as the tour can be popular. The admission fee for the tour is ¥500 and includes up to 2 glasses of beer. For those below 20 (drinking age in Japan), the price is ¥300 and includes a non-alcoholic beverage. The tours are held every hour and focus heavily on the history of their iconic “Black Label” beer.
If you have some extra time after checking out the tour, make sure to pop over to their beer garden which is located next to the brewery where you’ll be able to get your hands on some more fresh beer along with some tasty Mongolian mutton barbecue.
2. Suntory Brewery – Musashino, Tokyo
Well-known for their success at producing beverages, Suntory won’t let you down on its beers either. Their beers that are known for having a unique creamy foam, rich and distinctive flavor have satisfied many Japanese salarymen for years.
This brewery which opened up in 1963 was Suntory’s very first brewery. Their classic beer, “The Premium Malts” was created at this brewery, so if you’re a fan of it you definitely need to put this place on your list. The tour at Suntory lasts for approximately 70 minutes and you’ll be able to learn about the brewing process and ingredients used in their beers. After the tour comes the best part, the beer tasting! Each participant in the tour will be able to try 3 beers from Suntory’s selection of the day. Once the tour is over, make a stop at their brewery shop where you can buy “The Premium Malts”, some snacks to go with your beer and special products that you can only get at the brewery.What makes this place special? Most of their tours are free!! Plus, the brewery is located in Tokyo,
3. Asahi Beer – Ashigara, Kanagawa
Founded by the singular purpose of developing a top-quality Japanese beer, Asahi beer is a major player in Japan’s beer scene. As a pioneer in the beer industry, they launched Japan’s first canned beer and have continued to be at the top of their game. Asahi is most notably known for its “Asahi Super Dry” which has a fresh and crisp aftertaste.
The greenery surrounding the brewery is the first thing you notice when entering this place in Kanagawa. Asahi’s commitment to protecting the environment is firm and you can see it from here, where they’ve incorporated cutting-edge technology and recycle 100% of their waste materials. During the 90 minute tour, you’ll be given a video presentation about the company, exhibits of ingredients used in their beer where you can actually touch the barley and hops. The tour also includes an introduction to their production process and beer tastings of up to 3 glasses of their fresh “Asahi Super Dry”. This family-friendly brewery regularly holds events targeted for all ages, so don’t be worried about boring your kids while you enjoy yourself a cold one.