Want to drink and see a brewery for free?
You can do just that at the Kirin Brewery Factory!
This past weekend I visited the Yokohama Kirin brewery location for a tour of the factory. It was easy to set up, just go online to the website and sign up for a tour about a week in advance. The drinking age in Japan is 20 but luckily you don’t have to be of legal drinking age to go on the tour. The tour is also only given in Japanese but, they do offer English supplements for those who don’t speak Japanese.
The tour only takes about an hour to complete but it is fully immersive. Going through, I used all my senses on the tour which really stood out to me because I’ve never been on a tour of a facility that was this interactive.
The tour was a whole walkthrough of the beer-making process at the Kirin Brewery, beginning with the harvested ingredients and ending with the final product. We entered the first showroom on the tour and I got a strong scent of beer right away, but it wasn’t a bad smell, it was actually kind of a sweet smell. They took us to a room to tell us about the ingredients used in Kirin beer and how it is harvested.
The hops and malts used to make Kirin beer were displayed in bowls on tables for us to touch and smell. You were even allowed to eat some of the malt seeds if you wanted because they are edible! Surprisingly the malt seeds were really sweet and I couldn’t stop eating them.
Next, you are taken to an area where you can see all the fermenting machines. It is a room filled with huge metal bins where the fermentation process takes place. It takes a couple of weeks for the malts and hops to become fully fermented and turned into beer.
The whole packaging process is shown on the tour as well. It was incredible to see how automated the whole process was. It was all streamlined and automatic, a well-oiled machine.
At the end of it all, if you are the legal drinking age and not driving home, you are allowed to try three of their signature beers for FREE! They offered the original Kirin First Press, the dark beer, and the premium malt beer. You are allowed 20 minutes to try all of them if you want to. I personally liked the premium malt, but the others were really good as well. The dark had hints of a coffee taste and the original was refreshing and sweet.
If you have a free afternoon in Tokyo I would recommend taking the time to head down to Yokohama and taking a tour of the Kirin brewery.