Kyoto Liquid Culture

by Sakamoto Flash

Kyoto is famous for both its material culture—like temples, shrines and art—and its food culture. Luckily, Kyoto has good liquid culture, too. I’m not just talking about the sake (like Nada) brewed in the area or the pairing of smooth sake with delicious Kyoto food. I’m also talking about Kyoto’s burgeoning craft beer scene! There are three breweries in the area and a really good craft beer bar as well.

Kyoto Machiya Beer, in Nakagyo-ku, is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood and located inside the Horino Memorial Museum, which is dedicated to sake brewing and “everyday life in traditional Kyoto.” Sake brewing? Yes. When laws changed in the late 90s allowing brewers to make beer in smaller batches, many small breweries like this one applied for a license and began brewing beer. Despite the company’s traditional trappings, the brewer is actually female: Miyoshi Chizuko. Inside the restored kura (wharehouse), you can sit down in the ambience of a bygone age and drink kelsh, alt or, our favorite, the dry stout. Grab some of their unique bottles to go on the way out!

If you are feeling a little adventurous, travel about an hour by bus out to the western hills of Kyoto where you’ll find Shuzan Kaido brewery in a tiny valley town. Also a traditional sake brewery, the company started brewing beer in 1997. The lone brewer, Hayashi Shingo, makes a wonderful weizen, a mild English-style amber ale, and a kelsh. The quiet restaurant above the small brewery looks out over the town and serves decent seasonal food. Hayashi’s new weizen (with more wheat and a fruitier flavor) comes out in late June.

To the south of Kyoto Station, in the Fushimi area, the Kizakura brewery, known around the world for its sake, also brews three kinds of unusual beer: White Nile, Blue Nile and Ruby Nile. All three beers incorporate varieties of wheat in the brewing process that were also used to make beer in ancient Egypt.

To get to Shuzan Kaido: buses leave Kyoto station for the terminal stop “Shuzan” about every hour. Looking for a greater selection of craft beer? Drop into Tadg’s (see ad below).

Shuzan Kaido:
Kyoto Machiya:






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