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A Taste of Wakayama Craft Beer

The surge in the number of independent breweries in Japan that followed the country’s so-called Microbrew Liberalization in April 1996 was clear proof, if any was needed, that Japanese beer lovers were as passionate as their American and European counterparts. The craft beer revolution had finally arrived in Asia.

  • Nagisa Beer

    Nagisa Beer

    Nagisa Beer

    One of the early adherents to this revolution was Kazuya Manabe, who, in 1997, opened Nagisa Beer in the Wakayama onsen resort town of Shirahama. Manabe started small—his initial goal was to survive—and for the first few months offered only one style of beer, a pale ale. However, over the past 20 years his brewery has grown exponentially in both size and reputation. Today, Nagisa Beer is a brewery, a stand-alone restaurant and an online store that sells among other things bier wurst sausages, t-shirts and fridge magnets.

    Nagisa Beer’s lineup has also grown. The eight different styles of beer on offer include seasonal brews such as Mikan Ale, made with locally produced Sowa Kajuen oranges, and the dark winter beer Eyepatch Stout, as well as perennial favorites such as American Wheat and Indian Pale Ale.

    For beer lovers, Nagisa Beer is a slice of heaven on earth. Its brewery, which from the outside resembles a large café, is located within Isogi Park and only a beer-bottle’s throw away from rugged Pacific coastline. Tours of the brewery are free of charge and end at a wood-paneled bar where three Nagisa draft beers are readily available. Which is just as well, as Nagisa Beer is persistently ranked among Japan’s finest craft beer by experts and the drinking public alike.

    Nagisa Beer

    Nagisa Beer

    If the brewery tour leaves you craving good grub with your beer, head north along the coast to Barley, Nagisa Beer’s flagship restaurant. Located on the coast road leading to Senjojiki and Sandanbeki, Barley prides itself on its fine ingredients and voluminous servings. On weekdays, it offers reasonably priced pasta and lunch sets as well as homemade cakes and fresh coffee. And, of course, Nagisa Beer flows on tap throughout the day.

    Nagisa Beer

    Nagisa Beer

    Nagisa Beer brewery and Barley are a 15- to 20-minute taxi ride from JR Shirahama Station on the Kinokuni Line. Brewery tours are by reservation only from 11am to 3:30pm and again between 5:30pm and 9:30pm.

    Barley opens from 11am to 5pm on weekdays and 11am to 9:30pm on weekends and public holidays. Last orders are 30 minutes before closing time.

  • Voyager Brewing

    Voyager Brewing

    Voyager Brewing

    A much more recent addition to Wakayama’s craft beer scene is Voyager Brewing, which opened in the city of Tanabe in 2016. To date, the company offers only three beers: Voyager Gold, a golden ale, Voyager Copper, an amber ale, and Voyager IPA.

    Voyager Brewing

    Voyager Brewing

    The jury’s still out on the success of these three beers, especially when they are placed alongside more established brews. Voyager Gold in particular has attracted both withering criticism and thumbs-up encouragement from beer drinkers online. However, the Voyager brewing facility itself has become something of a local hit, so there really is no accounting for taste.

    Voyager Brewing

    Voyager Brewing

    Visitors are welcome to tour the brewery free of charge and then take a seat at the bar and put their taste buds to the test. More seating space is upstairs in the form of a loft furnished with beer crates, kegs and workbenches.

    Voyager Brewing is open every day except Tuesday from 9am to 6pm. The brewery is located some 2 km from JR Haya Station on the Kisei Main Line (Kisei Honsen).

    Wakayama
    Address
    Wakayama Pref. Wakayamashi Misonochou 5 chome
    Phone
    BARLEY
    Address
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou 2927-557
    Phone
    0739437373
  • Voyager Blueing
    Address
    Wakayama Pref. Tanabeshi Uenoyama 1-9-20
    Phone
    0739343305
    Haya
    Address
    Wakayama Pref. Tanabeshi Hayamatsubara 2-chome
    Phone
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