The best things in life are free. And when the free thing is beer the old adage becomes doubly true.
In a country which is incredibly expensive by backpackers’ standards it is essential to know how to make your money go further and this little gem will help those desparate to blow the froth off a few cold ones without blowing the froth off the budget.
Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo; big Japanese breweries who each provide free organised tours of their main brewing sites showing you the history of the brewery, how they make their beer and what it is they do differently to make it taste better than the rest.
We made it to the Kirin brewery near Yokohama on our way from Tokyo to Osaka and when in Osaka (on a separate day) we went to the Asahi brewery in Suita. The tours themselves last about an hour but then at the end there is free beer tasting!! Result. They advise booking in advance but we just turned up and got on a tour pretty quickly.
There is a “but” though…you only get twenty minutes tasting time and you are restricted to three beers. Well, they say three but we found that no one really keeps count, after all this is Japan where no one breaks the rules…except for dumb foreigners. So we found in 20 minutes we could get through five fresh beers and, at the Asahi brewery, a couple of shots of whisky. Superb.
There are breweries all over the country so if you want to do a tour yourself I’m sure there will be one close by. Here are the links for more info and locations.