Introduction: Brewing Tokyo Beer

Tokyo is “the city I love.”

Kakyu Nohmura (35), CEO, BEER PLANNING INC., The Interview:

 

It’s the last weekend in July. The deep blue summer sky is illuminated by the setting sun, which slowly stains it red. Getting off at Takadanobaba Station and walking about five minutes along the main street, I can see people enjoying chatting on the wooden deck facing the street, beers in hand. Looking up, there is a handmade sign reading BEER KOBO (Beer Studio) swinging in the breeze. “Wow! That looks like a great place to relax!” Before doing the interview, I was already excited imagining having a beer there. The name of this pub is “Takadanobaba Beer Kobo”.

 

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Photo:Handmade sign and wooden deck photo by Jin Yamaguchi

 

The small brewery was established in Koenji, Tokyo in the year 2010, when you didn’t hear the phrase “brew pub [1] ” very often. The brewery is inside a pub where you can drink the beer. It is a place where the brewer works right in front of you and you can enjoy the freshly-made beer. In those days, when it came to freshly-made beer in Tokyo, I thought the only way you could drink it was by participating in a beer factory tour at one of the large manufacturers. Was it really possible to go to a local pub in Tokyo and have beer that had just been brewed in front of you, and then poured into a glass by a server in front of you?

[1] A pub/restaurant incorporated with a brewery, which offers beer made in that brewery

“They’re making beer here!” Customers’ eyes sparkle as they enter the pub. On that day I was welcomed beginning with beer made from seasonal fruit, Japanese plum, followed

by six types of original beer. At this pub, beer isn’t the only thing that is handmade. They say that the interior design, including the wooden deck with loft-style customer seating in the pub, was made by the staff.

 

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Photo: There is also a brewery inside, and the beer offered in the pub is prepared in the front window. Behind the counter, tanks of beer are lined up.  Photo by Mayumi Sakai

 

Currently, Kakyu Nohmura, representative of Beer Planning, Inc., has set up branches not only in Koenji, but also in Asagaya, Nakano, Ogikubo, Nishiogikubo, and Takadanobaba. The branch I visited this time was Takadanobaba Beer Kobo, the sixth and newest branch. When the first branch opened, he and his wife were managing the beer brewery and pub. Mr. Nohmura is aiming for a neighborhood brewery like the typical neighborhood bakery. He says he wants to create a beer culture where the neighborhood brewery is part of the appeal of the area to local residents. I asked Mr. Nohmura for his thoughts about opening pubs and making beer, planting roots in the region, beginning in Koenji, Tokyo, as well as his dreams for the future of his business. The interview consists of four stories. We plan to release one every other Friday.

 


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