A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Kiuchi Brewery

If you're a beer enthusiast, nothing is better than a brewery tour. You get to go behind the scenes and see how your favorite brew is made and sample the freshest product.

Beer enthusiasts visiting Japan should make their way out to Kiuchi Brewery, home of Hitachino Nest Beer, to have a look at home this more-than-a-century-old brewery produces one of the country's top craft beers brands. The brewery was founded in 1823 and currently produces sake as well as 18 different beers.

I recently made the journey from Tokyo (took about two hours) to Kiuchi Brewery with my parents, coordinated by Hitomi, a member of the brewery team. After a delicious lunch at their soba restaurant, she led our English-speaking group on an hour-long tour of Nukada Brewhouse, which is about a 10-minute drive from the main brewery. We got to see the hops, fermentation tanks and bottling equipment up close -- the brewery is currently expanding to meet international demand and began growing their own hops last year. What makes their beers unique is the use of the rice and wooden barrels used in sake production, which gives a one-of-a-kind flavor to their brews.

At the end of the tour, we got to sample several Hitachino Nest Beers (I found a new favorite, their Espresso Stout) and were given a voucher for a free beer back at Mito Station before heading back to Tokyo. If you're in a hurry to catch your train, you can get any of their standard draft beers in a plastic cup to take right on board with you.

All in all, it was an experience well worth the journey and cost. Make your way out there if you can -- you're sure to find a delicious brew for you!

Read more about my adventures in Asia on my blog, www.100tacks.com!

Kiuchi Brewery
1257 Kounosu, Naka-shi, Ibaraki, 311-0133
+81 (0)29-298-0105

Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Tour Information (must be booked in advance)
Every Tuesday and Thursday
Starts at 2:45 p.m.
2,000 yen per person (includes tour, samples and a free beer back at Mito Station)

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