190 Years of Brewing at Kiuchi Brewery
Situated in the central Kanto region of Japan in the Kounosu Village is the Kiuchi Brewery established by Kiuchi Gihei in 1823 at a time when a new political movement began to reform.
Kiuchi was the head of the village and collected rice from farmers as land taxes and decided to use the remaining stocks of rice in his warehouse to start a brewery making Sake.
His close friend Fujita Toko named one of the Sakes “Kikusakari” in respect to the emperor and with the polishing off of the rice and water taken from natural springs, the Kiuchi Brewery was born.
The Sake industry flourished especially after the Second World War, when the Japanese economy increased and sake was in high demand, encouraging breweries to mass produce and sell in bulk causing the quality of the products to decrease.
Kiuchi maintained their policy to produce the best quality products with the best ingredients and craftsmanship.
In the 1950’s the brewery was inherited by Mikio Kiuchi who continued to produce high quality sake, but by the 1990’s strict alcohol tax laws were reduced and this encouraged the Kiuchi Brewery to begin a new adventure making beer.
Before then only four large breweries were allowed to make beer and once the laws were relaxed it allowed for smaller breweries to join in the production.
As the company had no experience in making beer they decided to ask the larger breweries for help but it would have cost them millions of yen, which led them to search elsewhere for ideas and finally found a brewing manufacturer in Canada called the DME.
They sent equipment and shared their knowledge with Kiuchi and the start of their beer brewing business began to take shape.
The facilities were set up in 1996 after one month of intense labour and trying to decipher English instruction manuals, the brewery was up and running with the first brew of Hitachino Nest Beer.
In 1997 the beer with a unique character owl logo began to win awards in Canada, Germany, U.K, U.S.A and Japan gaining worldwide attention, leading them to export to U.S.A and countries all over the world.
Hitachino Nest beer was in demand and the facilities needed to be increased, leading the company to move the distillery to bigger premises in Nukada.
The new distillery uses eco-friendly methods, reducing and recycling waste with the by- product of sake brewing by using the sake lees to make a distilled liquor called Shocku Kiuchi.
White Ale is a Belgian style, Witbier with flavours of coriander, orange peel and nutmeg with a 5.5% alcohol level
Pale Ale with British malts and hops, this beer is a light copper colour and consists of 5.5% alcohol
Weizen with flavours of Banana, cloves and vanilla, this brew is a German style, consisting of Tettnang and Chinook hops
Sweet Stout has aromas of roasted chocolate and coffee with Kent Golding hops
Red Rice Ale
Red Rice Ale has a sake flavour brewed with ancient red rice and has the aroma of strawberry as well as in the taste with its pink colour and an alcohol of 7.0%
XH has an alcohol level of 8% and is a strong Belgian Ale distilled in sake barrels with maturation taking place in casks for 3 months before it is bottled
Japanese Classic Ale
Japanese Classic Ale has a fine creamy head with hints of British hops and aromas of cedar and spice
Celebration Ale a full bodied beer with a sweet wheat flavour and aromas of orange peel, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla beans with an alcohol of 8%
Amber Ale with aromatic British hops and flavoured roasted malts the name of the beer represents the colour of it too
Ginger Ale is brewed with raw ginger and has aromas of citrus, ginger and malt
Espresso Stout with a balance of rich malts and coffee flavours this Russian Imperial Stout consists of caramel, chocolate, black and roasted malts
Nipponia is brewed with Kanego Golden barley developed in Japan in the 1900’s. It has a citrus edge and a golden colour presented in a unique slim line bottle
Dai Dai Ipa
Dai Dai Ipa is brewed with Japanese wild breed mandarin and has an interesting balance of bitterness and Umami taste
Up until recently the Kiuchi Brewery has been importing all of their malts and hops from the western countries, but have decided to grow their own and they are also going to grow their own vines for winemaking in the near future.
Visit Kiuchi Brewery
If brewing your own beer is something that you are interested in doing, then you can visit the brew house where you are given the steps to create your own tastes that can be bottled with your own label too.
Kiuchi Brewery and the Hitachino Nest Beer are an innovative and creative company that has 8 generations worth of experience in sake and beer that has been recognised internationally.
311-0133 Ibaraki Prefecture Japan, Japan
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂