The Local BrewBy Bryan Harrell
Tama no Megumi Beer
The northeastern reaches of Tokyo are blessed with some remarkably fine hiking areas, with trailheads less than two hours from the center of the city. Autumn is clearly the finest season for hiking, with a crisp dry atmosphere and strikingly blue skies often studded with white, wispy clouds.
A full day hiking through trails ranging from pedestrian to extreme invariably results in a remarkable thirst for beer. Fortunately, on the way back to town is Fussa no Beer-goya (the little beer hut in Fussa) which is hardly a hut at all, but rather an extremely pleasant restaurant looking out on a tree-shaded terrace beer garden, on the grounds of venerable saké brewer Ishikawa Shuzo, just a 12-minute walk from Haijima Station (JR Ome Line and Seibu Line).
The food is brewpub meets Italian restaurant, with a full compliment of pizzas, pastas and risottos joined by spare ribs, sausages and fried potatoes, with appealing antipasto items and super salads. Prices are surprisingly reasonable considering the above-average quality of the food.
But beer is the real draw here, and the house brand Tama no Megumi rarely disappoints. In small (¥500), large (¥700) or pitcher (¥2,200) on-taps servings, you’re certain to find a beer that suits your taste, with regular selections that range from Pilsners and Pale Ales to Munchener Dark and more.
While most all beers exhibit super balance and excellent flavor profiles, don’t expect anything wild or unusual. There are also bottled beers that include those varieties along with season-only brews such as Winter Ale, Belgian Wit, Marzen, Weizen, Helles and Blueberry Ale.
Artesian water from the brewery’s own well is used in brewing, and all are unpasteurized and unfiltered for maximum flavor.
On your way out, be sure to drop by the shop on the grounds to purchase these brews in bottles to take home. Also make sure to taste the Tama no Jiman saké which the brewery has produced since 1863. You’re sure to want some of that too. Also on the grounds is a beer and saké museum with a surprising exhibit of Japanese beer labels from 100 years ago.
Fussa no Beer-goya is open daily except Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m., with last call at 8:30 p.m., through spring. From spring to fall, they are open daily from 11:30 a.m., with last call at 9:30 p.m. Please call to confirm the beginning or end dates of the season; (042) 553-0171.
Ishikawa Brewery Co., Ltd.
Fussa-shi, Tokyo 197-8623
Phone: (042) 553-0171
Fax: (042) 553-2017
Web: www.tamajiman.com/english/gaiyo.html (E)