Thursday, March 28, 2019

When in Japan: Asahi Brewery Tour

Japan is definitely a breath of fresh air. With its clean roads, orderly towns, reliable transportation system, magnificent views and scrumptious food, it is impossible not to enjoy one's vacation in the land of the rising sun. And on my second time in Fukuoka, R and I decided to visit more places and experience more things at this trade hub. And one of our stops is the Asahi Brewery in Hakata. 

Hello, Asahi Brewery!
Asahi is one of the leading beverage brands in Japan and currently holds the biggest chunk of the beer market with 38% (followed by Kirin Beer with 35% and Suntory with 15%). It may not be common knowledge but Asahi also has several brands under its umbrella such as whisky, soft drinks and even food. 
I found out from Food in the Bag that Asahi offers free brewery tours to the public so we opted to try it on our 4th day in Fukuoka
Reservation via phone call is required so you might want to opt to use the pay phone or ask a friendly stranger to make the call for you. We opted to buy Viber credits instead and called using our mobile phone. The entire call cost us $0.10. Not bad at all, right?
There are English and Japanese tours but it seems that the English tours are less frequent and we were assigned to a Japanese one. It wasn't all that bad though as there was an audio guide you can download to know more about the stops and things you'll see. (Make sure to bring earphones.)
We started off going to a video room where we watched an introduction to Asahi and what seems to be some commercial clips. All the videos are in Japanese so we were a bit lost in translation. But we managed to get the gist of the presentation which highlighted Asahi's emphasis on quality control. 
The tour continued with us passing by the hall that showcased Asahi's different product lines and we were surprised to see something familiar, Jack Daniel's. (No photo though as the tour discourages us from taking photos during the tour. So here's one from the gift shop.)
Last year, Asahi produced 870 milion cans and if you line them all together, it can go around the world 2.7 times! Now that's pretty impressive! 
Next stop was learning about the different raw ingredients needed to produce beer
We even got to taste malt, which was surprisingly yummy. 
We then walked to the different areas of the factory (from a distance or viewing deck) and got to learn how beer was made. This is where things got a bit technical now. 
But one fact that got stuck in my head is the ginormous size of the outdoor maturation tanks where the mixed ingredients (i.e. malt, hops, rice, cornstarch and water) are fermented. With dimensions of 7 meters in diameter and 22 meters in height, a single tank can store 420 kiloliters of beer or 1.2 million cans! And if a person drinks one can of beer per day, it would take him about 3,300 years to finish it!
Asahi is very proud of its environment friendly processing and claims that they recycle (and upcycle) all of its waste and by products. It also has its own forest where it gets its raw materials. 
One thing that would have made our factory visit more awesome though is if the machines were working. Then again, we went on a Saturday and there probably has no work. 
The last stop of our tour was beer tasting where we get to sample 3 kinds of beer in 20 minutes. 
Beer snack
The first one was Asahi's classic drink, Super Dry; followed by Super Dry Extra Cold and Asahi Black. 
Light in flavor with subtle kick, Super Dry is an excellent choice to enjoy after a long day. But if you prefer something stronger, Asahi Black is the one for you which has more pronounced hops taste. 
Asahi is strict with its tasting though. If you drove to the factory, you are not allowed to sample any beer. But you can enjoy its soft drinks instead. I was a bit buzzed after gulping down my third glass so I completely understand why Asahi set this policy.
There's a gift shop by the exit where you could buy some Asahi merchandise and beverages. But I highly recommend that you stick with Asahi merchandise as we found out that Asahi liquor here are more expensive than in Don Quijote by a few hundred yen and it's not tax free at the Asahi factory. We ended up having buyer's remorse after spending about 15,000 Yen. 
Nonetheless, it was a fun experience and something worth checking out when you're around Fukuoka.  
Asahi Hakata Brewery 3-1-1 Takeshita, Hakata-Ku, Fukuoka. Tour hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.. Contact them at +81-92-431-2701 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to reserve your slot. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments or other recommendations? :)