Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ogawa Machi: Zakkoku Koubou Craft Micro Brewery

There are many things that Japan does well  on a big scale-miso, sushi, sake, tea, to name a few.  But one thing that left both Karl and me disappointed right from the beginning is Japanese beer. 

Having lived in the upper Midwest of the US of A for all of my adult life until moving to Japan, a huge variety of delicious micro brewed beer was always available.  In fact, when we were dating, Karl and I went to one of our favorite haunts on the shores of Lake Superior on a weekly basis-Fitger’s Brewhouse. 

Imagine our disappointment upon moving to Japan when-generally speaking-all we had to choose from was Asahi and Sapporo.  Not terrible…but not great.  Karl loves porters and stouts, while I lean towards weizen brews.  Neither of which could we find, besides the insanely over priced cans of Guinness.  Hmm.

About a year into our living in Japan, we finally ventured into a small establishment that would prove to increase our weekend enjoyment exponentially-Zakkoku Koubou Craft Beer.

The brew master and some of his brewing friends call themselves the "Beer Cats."
Although we had noticed this little place several times before, once again our lack of being able to speak any significant amount of Japanese held us back.  Finally, after mustering some courage, we immersed ourselves further into our Japan experience. 

The phrase that comes to mind when I reflect on this discovery is, “It’s better late than never.”  We were kicking ourselves after we realized what an incredible little micro brewery our little town had had all along.  But…better late than never! 

A young couple runs Zakkoku brewery-a local, organic micro brewery.  They do not speak much English but they are some of the nicest, friendliest people whom we have yet to meet anywhere-Japan or elsewhere. 

Sitting at the tiny little wooden bar, you can see right through to the other room where the magic happens.  They always have at least four beers on tap: a porter, a weizen, a seasonal pale ale, and a few other seasonal brews.  Karl’s and my brew-filled dreams had come true!

The Ogawa Porter-Karl's favorite.

The Apple Ginger Weizen-my favorite!
Along with the beers, they offer some incredibly delicious snacks.  Spicy sausages from A-chan’s delicatessen just down the street, wholegrain breads, pickles, pretzels, and more.  All of them of are homemade, fresh, and organic.  Occasionally, they also offer full meals.  We have had Japanese style curry and rice there a few times (usually we are not enamored with this dish-but it is extremely delicious at Zakkoku). 

Spicy sausages that are made at Achan's Delicatessen, which is just down the street.
Delicious bread set.  Homemade bread for the win.
This is a small, quiet place that fills up quickly and doesn’t stay open too late.  We usually go on Friday afternoon right after work for a weekend kanpai (Japanese for cheers).  Sometimes, we take a few bottles home with us-though the bottled beers are usually limited to just two or three types of beer. 

Zakkoku micro brewery is located extremely close to the station-less than a minute walk.  We usually start parties here with a brew or three of truly exceptional micro brews and then migrate over to Ota Horumon (less than a minute walk away) for delicious food and good times.  We are going to miss this routine after we leave.  Fortunately home is waiting for us, with all its glorious micro brews to go with it. 

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1 comment:

  1. My husband and I stayed near Ogawamachi at an AirBnB place largely due to your blog. We had a blast. The Onsan was super rad. Lunch at Genki No Ki was dynamite. My husband isn't much of a scarf guy but couldn't resist getting the "beer cats" scarf at Zakkokou. He had bartenders at a pub in Tokyo asking him about the scarf. They couldn't believe we had just come from Ogawamachi. And all because of your blog. Blogs are weird, and we don't know who will read them, but I'm really glad you wrote about your town. Thank you.