Enjoy Kirin Beer Factory Tour and Field of Cosmos at Once (Asakura, Fukuoka)
Recently in Japan, beer brands from abroad and rare Japanese craft beer brands have gained high popularity. But more basic lineups of the staple beer brands such as Yebisu, Asahi and Sapporo are also being improved in their production methods and ingredients day by day.
Here let me take this opportunity to introduce to you about Kirin Beer, one of the long established Japanese beer brands with an international reputation, along with Kirin’s beer factory and a field of cosmos flowers adjoining the factory.
Factory and the Adjoining Field of Cosmos Flowers
From around early October until early November, you can enjoy cosmos flowers blossoming at the field adjoining Kirin’s beer factory in Fukuoka (the best viewing period varies each year). The building in the back of the photo is the factory. Many tourists who visit here in autumn enjoy cosmos flowers at the adjoining field first before touring inside the factory.
The cosmos field is a perfect place to have a little picnic. You can see many families having picnics here enjoying fried chicken, hot dogs, ramen and other foods they have bought from the stalls that can be found at the field.
Great Photo Point in the Cosmos Field
I saw many people queueing up for something in the middle of the cosmos field. I wondered what was going on and approached them to find this. A huge can of Kirin Beer “Ichiban Shibori” was installed there and provided a nice photo location for the visitors. It would definitely make one of the interesting memories from your visit here.
Tour Inside the Kirin Beer Factory
After fully enjoying the cosmos flowers, you can now visit the adjoining factory and tour inside. As the day I visited here was a Sunday and the cosmos flowers were in their best period for viewing, the factory was jam packed with visitors. It is recommended to make a reservation online for a factory tour.
Factory Tour Reservation: https://kirinbrewery1.secure.force.com/WebCalender?p=F
No participation fee applies to the factory tour and you can learn about the factory in a 70 minutes guided tour. The guidance is currently available only in Japanese unfortunately.
Inside the Factory
Let me explain to you a little bit about the production method of Kirin Beer.
The standard beer is basically made by using both the first and the second press wort. But “Kirin Ichiban Shibori,” one of the most popular beer products from Kirin, as the name meaning “the first press” well suggests, is made exclusively and lavishly from the first press wort.
*First Press Wort: wort pressed out first time from the crude beer mash (or “moromi” in Japanese), which is produced by fermenting the ingredient barley, smashing it when turned into malt and simmering it at a gradually rising temperature.
When I actually compared the tastes of the first and the second press wort, the first press tasted much sweeter and richer in flavor.
The photo above shows some of the tanks used in the production process of Kirin Ichiban Shibori beer (saccharification –> filtration of wort –> boiling –> fermentation).
After being stored in these large tanks for about one to two months, beer is deliciously matured and ready to be shipped.
Best Part of Factory Tour: Beer Tasting
The last 20 minutes of the 70 minute factory tour is beer tasting time, which gives many people the very reason to visit here in the first place.
The selection of beer offered on the day I visited the factory included “Kirin Ichiban Shibori,” “Ichiban Shibori Stout,” and “Toretate Hop Ichiban Shibori” (in order from left to right). You can have your glass filled with beer to the brim and get free refills as much as you want. But the limit of 20 minutes duration of the tasting time would not allow you to swig that many refills unless you are a fast drinker.
Non-alcoholic beverages such as Kirin brand black tea, green tea and fruit juice are also offered, so those who need to drive on the way back and kids can also enjoy.
Locally Brewed Beer: Ichiban Shibori from 47 Prefectures around Japan
At the tasting room, the locally brewed Kirin beer products from 47 prefectures around Japan were on display. I have tried more than a several of them but some of them did have different colors and flavors and tasted differently. It would be interesting to try and compare Ichiban Shibori beer from different prefectures.
Kirin Beer is a long-established beer manufacturer, which was founded in the late 19th century. In the factory tour, I was truly moved to learn about the production method and the special attention they pay to the quality of their products, which proved their professionalism and commitment to beer making. I really recommend you to visit here in autumn and enjoy the beauty of the cosmos flowers and the delicious beer. Information: Map