Taste the difference on beer brewery tour in Japan


YOKOHAMA, Japan - Kirin Brewery was established in 1907 in the city of Yokohama, the epicenter of western culture in Japan at the time. After its original production base near the port of Yokohama was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, the company relocated operations to its current Yokohama location. 

Kirin Yokohama Brewery today has the capacity to produce about 2,000 cans of beer and other beverages a minute. It is open to the public for free guided tours that introduce the manufacturing process of the popular Kirin Ichiban beer brand and the history of Japanese beer. The tours are especially popular among families with children.  

A roughly 80-minute tour allowing visitors to "savor the great taste of Kirin Ichiban" is offered every day except Mondays, when the brewery is closed. Along the way, visitors can watch videos explaining the history of Japanese beer and the brewery, and also take a look at the manufacturing method particular to the brand.  

Production involves boiling down barley to make mash, and then removing the chaff so the wort can be squeezed out. The bitterness and fragrance of the beer derives from adding hops to the wort and boiling it down again.  

The entire process takes place in a preparation chamber installed with nine boiling kettles, each 12 meters in diameter. Visitors can learn what goes on inside a boiling kettle from projection mapping displayed on the floor.  

Kirin Ichiban is made using only the first press of the wort, which is why the rich-tasting beer was christened Ichiban, meaning No. 1. The tour offers visitors a look at the preparation chamber before allowing them to taste both the first and second presses of wort for comparison.  

Visitor Mitsuyoshi Kanezashi, a company employee in his mid-30s who lives in the area, was astonished by the difference. "The first press tasted sweeter, and the flavor of the barley was much stronger," he said.  

Fermenting, the final stage of the beer-making process, occurs inside 129 huge tanks for a period of one to two months. At the end of the tour, visitors can try up to three glasses of draft beer drawn straight from the fermenting tanks. They are also taught the proper technique for pouring beer to enhance its taste.  

The brewery's premise are 7.2 times the size of Yokohama Stadium, the home turf of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars professional baseball club. Kirin has taken advantage of the size to create a bespoke natural habitat - called a biotope - for loaches and medaka, or Japanese killifish, as well as to plant trees.  

On Sundays, free tours of a garden on the grounds are held for families with children and other groups, while an elevated lawn open to visitors serves as a playground.  

With this kind of refreshing atmosphere, it is easy to see why as many as 300,000 people visit the brewery each year.  

- - -  

Kirin Yokohama Brewery  

Kirin Ichiban tours are held every day except Mondays and the year-end and New Year's holidays, when the brewery is closed.  

Tours are offered between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and start every 20 minutes to an hour. The number of visitors on a single tour is limited to 35.  

Family tours, available on weekends and holidays, allow families with children aged 5 to 9 take part in quiz games as they tour the brewery.  

Sunday tours also intended for families with children take visitors on a stroll through the biotope and garden after the tour of the brewery.  

All tours are free of charge and require reservation.  

Address: 1-17-1 Namamugi, Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Weekend getaway: Florida Keys & Key West travel guide
Weekend getaway: Florida Keys & Key West travel guide

A sensational summer getaway is easy, breezy and just down the road in the Florida Keys. The string of tropical islands stretches about 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida.  Thinking about visiting Key West, Florida? The town's Key Lime Festival takes place during the 4th of July weekend and features a Key lime pie eating contest, rum...
The one bright spot in Penn Station's summer

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency over New York's dreadful commuting situation in late June, locals didn't think things could get any worse.  It turned out they could, at least at Penn Station, the epicenter of the so-called "summer of hell." Earlier this year the Pennsy, the year-and-a-half-old food hall at 2 Penn...
Why Matsuhisa and De Niro open their Nobu hotels

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro have been partners since opening Nobu restaurant in New York in 1994. The name of the Japanese chef, whose signature cooking style borrows from his experiences working in Lima, Peru, and other coastal locales, is now affixed to more than 30 Nobu restaurants on five continents. In 2013, the partnership opened...
Does this little amusement park really have the best wooden coaster in the world?
Does this little amusement park really have the best wooden coaster in the world?

Ride enthusiasts beat a path each summer to ride the world’s best wooden coaster in one of the most unlikely of places: a small amusement park located halfway between New York City and Boston that bills itself as the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States.  I made my pilgrimage this summer to Lake Compounce in...
Travel Tips: resources for drinking well
Travel Tips: resources for drinking well

Travelers today face a wealth of good options when it comes to drinking wine and beer. “I think today you can be surprised most everywhere,” said Pascaline Lepeltier, beverage director at the restaurant Rouge Tomate in New York City.  But the variety can be overwhelming, especially when exploring a new place.   Here, beverage...
More Stories