I’ve never been big on beer, whenever I was given the choice of beer and wine, I’d always opt for wine over beer in a heartbeat. However, all of this changed on the day my beer enthusiast friend introduced me to IPA. It opened up a whole new world of craft beer that I didn’t even know existed and I am forever grateful to this friend.
While you might look at countries like the U.S. and the U.K. when it comes to craft beer, Japan’s got a pretty interesting scene going on as well. As an avid traveler and craft beer drinker, I’m always on the look for interesting craft beer spots to check out. Last year I traveled around 10 different cities in Japan and made it a personal mission to check the local craft breweries in each city. Yes, there are obviously a ton of cool breweries and craft beer bars in Tokyo, but there’s definitely more to explore in the craft beer scene in Japan. Here are 3 amazing craft beer places outside of Tokyo that are worth a visit.
1.Spring Valley Brewery – Kyoto
SVB, short for Spring Valley Brewery is a place I’ve been recommending my friends to visit when in Kyoto. Developed as a side project by the beverage company KIRIN, the craft beers at SVB are very promising. This place has nailed everything you’d want from a craft beer place. Close from downtown Kyoto? Check. Amazing selection of craft beer? Check. Traditional Japanese aesthetics? Check.
If it’s your first time there, I’d recommend getting their Beer Flight which consists of 6 small glasses of their prominent beers. Each beer has its own flair and is influenced by the brewer’s preference. By ordering the Beer Flight, you can dabble on the different beers and figure out your beer of choice. To go with their Beer Flight, you can order a pairing set which includes 6 tasty snacks made to compliment each beer in the Beer Flight. One of the best things about SVB is that they have a mini-shop in the first-floor of the brewery where you can purchase their 6 prominent beers, along with some other original products. Nestled in the heart of Kyoto, there’s always a crowd at SVB.If you know in advance you’ll be stopping by there, make a reservation on their website in advance.
- Address: Japan, 〒604-8056 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Takamiyacho (Tominokojidori), 587-2(GoogleMaps)
2. Yellow Ape Craft – Osaka
If you’re willing to travel for craft beer, Osaka is where it’s at. The city known for its food won’t disappoint you with its craft beer either.
Without a doubt one of the most-known breweries in Osaka, Yellow Ape Craft is located in Kitahama. The seating is limited, but the friendly staff, cozy atmosphere and wide selection of craft beer make up for it. At Yellow Ape Craft, you can choose from 20 taps of craft beer on any given day. Their craft beer ranges from local, domestic and international breweries. IPA lovers rejoice! You’ll find a pretty impressive selection of IPA choices at Yellow Ape Craft. Their taps have a tendency to change on a daily basis, so if you’re keen to have a particular beer, it might be better to check their website where they’ll list today’s taps.Don’t miss out on their food as well. With past work experience at Italian and French restaurants, the chef serves some of the best dishes I’ve ever had at a craft beer place. Unlike a lot of craft beer places, you can have a satisfying dinner, dessert and craft beer, all in one spot.
3. Nihonkai Club – Ishikawa
Located in the most remote area of Noto, I’m sure Nihonkai Club isn’t on most people’s radar. Unlike the 2 places introduced above, this place isn’t located in a major city, but it is the perfect destination for people that love craft beer and want a getaway from the urban life. An interesting fact about Nihonkai Club is that they hire people with disabilities, making it an inclusive brewery. Nihonkai Club brews 4 types of beer: Pilsner, Dark Lager, Weizen and Okunoto Densetsu. Their Czech-style Pilsner has won a prestigious beer award and is definitely worth the hype. It’s a well-balanced beer with the right amount of bitterness.If you want something unique, try their Okunoto Densetsu as it’s brewed using deep-sea water from the local bay.
Have kids? Don’t worry. This may be the most family-friendly place for craft beer in all of Japan. At Nihonkai Club you’ll find a huge slide for kids and a mini farm. Yes, that’s right, a “farm”. Enjoy a walk around their farm where you’ll be greeted by donkeys and piglets. This place is a true gem and has something to entertain everyone, so make sure to stop by early in the day.