The Local BrewBy Bryan Harrell
Koedo Beer was founded in Kawagoe in the spring of 1996 and, after several years of growth, a new brewery was built a bit further down the expressway toward Tokyo. The original specialty was a beer made with sweet potatoes – a specialty of Kawagoe, known as “ko-edo” (little Edo) due to its resemblance to 18th century Tokyo. At the time, the sweet potato beer was dreadful, but it is truly amazing what a decade of working with German brewmasters can do.
Today, Koedo has been re-branded as “Coedo” and the sweet potato beer is now known as “Beni-aka” after the red-skinned tubers. The beer itself is their flagship, and rightly so, with the recipe tweaked to achieve a luscious reddish amber color with a dense tan head. It is richly flavored, yet light in body, and is dangerously drinkable. The other beers – a pilsner lager (Ruri), a cloudy wheat beer (Shiro), an amber lager (Kyara) and a dark beer (Shikkoku) – are all of superb quality. There’s certain to be one you’ll like.
The old brewery has been turned into a fine casual restaurant, Komugi Ichiba (“wheat market”), which is decorated with dry stalks of wheat. There is a definite emphasis on locally grown organic produce in the light and natural seasonal cuisine.
The salads and thin-crust pizzas are outstanding, and the sausages are recommended – all with attentive and first-rate service. Best of all, the five main Coedo beers, plus the one seasonal beer, are served here. Small “taster” glasses go for around ¥200-280, allowing you to try a little of each before settling upon a large mug (¥720-800).
The best way to get there is via the Seibu Shinjuku Line to Hon Kawagoe, then catch one of the buses from the #5 bus stop outside the station. Ask the driver to drop you off at “Fukuda” bus stop. Komugi Ichiba is a short walk down a diagonal road to the left from there.