The Local BrewBy Bryan Harrell
Tsukiyono Beer & Dobry Den
A huge art glass complex in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture is not the most likely spot to find a craft brewery and restaurant. Yet when one considers the two most famous features of the Czech republic–beer and fine crystal glass—the rationale becomes clearer.
This also explains why the restaurant is named Dobry Den (“konnichiwa”), though the similarity to things Czech ends there, apart from the commendable version of a Czech-style Pilsner on tap. The beer, named Yuhi-no-Tsukiyo, is crisp and dry, with a creamy texture that slowly unfolds while bitterness lingers in the finish.
Also brewed here is the Mizu-to-Midori Ale; an English-style amber ale that is rather dry and not very fruity for an ale. Rounding out the beer roster are two German styles: the Hotaru-no-Sato, a Munich-style dark lager with a roasty and slightly sweet flavor, and the Roman-no-Sato, a Weizen cloudy wheat beer with a much more subdued aroma compared to other Weizens.
All are about five percent alcohol, and are ¥600 (M), ¥900 (L) and ¥1,800 (pitcher). There is also a three-beer taster to help you decide; three 130-ml. glasses each of the Pilsner, Ale and Dark for ¥900.
To go with the beer is a small selection of beer food, such as edamame (green soy beans), fried potatoes, a sausage assortment and more. There are also a number of curries, donburi and special set lunches, but these are more on a par with highway rest-stop food. If it’s something tastier you want, go for the handmade soba, though buckwheat noodles are admittedly not an ideal match for beer.
The beer, nonetheless, is the best reason to stop by on the way back from skiing, rafting, canyoning, hiking or “onsen-ing” in the Minakami area. A stroll through the adjoining emporium of artistic glass items will prove a relaxing distraction as well.
Tsukiyono Craft Beer / Dobry Den Restaurant
Vidro Park, 761-1 Gokan, Minakami-cho, Tone-gun, Gunma Pref.
Phone: (0278) 20-2033
Tsukiyono Beer is in the Vidro Park complex, about a 10-minute walk from Gokan Station on the JR Joetsu Line, and about five minutes by taxi from Jomo Kogen Station on the Joetsu Shinkansen.