Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brewery Tour Day

I thought it would be a great idea to spend one of my last Japan days going on a couple of brewery tours. It sounded like a great way to get some free alcohol and I was not disappointed. First I took the train to Suita, just north of Osaka, and took a short walk to the Asahi beer brewery. It’s actually the location of the original Asahi brewery built in 1891 and a few of the original buildings are still around. I guess you’re supposed to call ahead to reserve a spot so they were a little surprised to see me, but they were very accommodating. I was the only visitor who was not Japanese so consequently I was the only person in the English speaking tour group. My guide was very friendly and did a great job of showing me around. I have been to a few breweries before so seeing the inner workings were not super special, but watching the bottling process on such a massive scale is always interesting. They had a slick set up to show off the process for visitors. At the end of the tour you have 20 minutes to drink 3 beers. Yes, I drank all of them although I had to chug the last one. My guide stood by me, practicing her English, as I awkwardly drank alone in the tasting room. Luckily the Japanese tour group showed up 10 minutes later making it only slightly less awkward.
My Asahi Brewery Tour Guide

From there I took a couple trains to Kobe and on to the Hakutsuro Sake Brewery Museum. It took a while to actually find the place so there was a fair amount of street wandering involved. The museum sits in a large two story thatch roof factory. It used to actually produce sake, but as the factory was modernized the building was converted into a storeroom before finally becoming a museum. They had a large set up showing the various stages of sake brewing. Each exhibit had slightly creepy life size people statues performing various sake production tasks. The captions weren’t in English, but there was an English pamphlet that let me in on what was happening. The brewery was established in 1743 and had obviously been through a lot. One of the rooms had a bunch of old brewery artifacts which were pretty cool. At the end they gave me 2 shots of sake. The sake was actually really good and I thought about buying a bottle as a souvenir, but the prospect of lugging it back in my already overstuffed bag made me think twice.

So, interesting information, free alcohol, awkwardly drinking alone. Mission Accomplished.


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