Good Beer, Right Here
Yes, you can find locally made, good-tasting beer right here in Mie
When I moved to Ise in 2007, I started exploring my quiet neighborhood. I was intrigued by one shop down the road, which had “Craft Beer” written on its sign in English. Had I just moved in next door to a craft brewery?
Indeed, I had. And lucky for me — and other craft beer lovers all over Japan — the Ise Kadoya brewery makes truly good stuff. Their beers have been recognized in international competitions, and importers in the U.S. have taken notice.
Ise Kadoya, located in Ise’s Jinkyu district a short bus or taxi ride from the central stations, is just one example of craft beer’s emergence in Japan, which comes thanks to law revisions in 1994 making small breweries legal.
Today, there are more than 250 craft breweries in Japan. To be sure, not all of them are making quality products, though a great and increasing number are up to par.
The industry faces numerous challenges, from the dominance of the five major beer producers (the Big Five, as they are sometimes collectively called) to misinformed masses unwilling to try new things.
But the craft beer boom in Japan is slowly making headway, countering the belief — one drinker at a time — that beer must look like a 30-percent-head glass of Asahi Super Dry.
So here in Mie, it may be news to many that good, quality craft beer is available in your backyard. Well, it’s here, and you can make it a part of your diet. Whether you order online, visit the breweries, or seek out variety in the big city, it’s possible to say goodbye to the standard beer offerings that dominate the market.
Fair warning, though: You must pay to play. Just as all-malt beer from the Big Five costs more than low-malt happoshu, good quality craft beer costs more than The Premium Malts. But in my beer journey, I’ve decided that its worth the extra yen to imbibe the good stuff. Cut back on those regular-beer session nights and soon you’ll have enough extra cash on hand to branch out.
It’s not hard to get started. Pick up a Yona Yona Ale (from Nagano) at a major grocery store. Check out some Moku Moku beer next time you hit their organic buffet. Or come down to Ise and order the sampler tray from the Biyagura brewpub.
If you decide to come along for the ride, let me know what you find. In this column, I’ll feature reader response in addition to offering my own comments and reports.