The Local BrewBy Bryan Harrell
Sagami Beer at Restaurant Selvaggina
The Tanzawa mountain range in northwestern Kanagawa Prefecture offers residents of greater Tokyo numerous hiking opportunities, not to mention a great deal of off-road mountain biking courses. While its rugged terrain and steep slopes challenge the riders of road bikes, quite a few can be encountered on the area’s narrow winding mountain roads on weekends.
Stations along the middle reaches of the Odakyu Line, such as Hon-Atsugi and Aiko Ishida, are popular starting points for hikers, and many can be seen at bus stops on the north sides of these stations, waiting for rides to the many trailheads.
Nanasawa Onsen is one of the more popular destinations, thanks to the many hot springs establishments that allow daytime entry to their large steaming baths for as little as a few hundred yen. Just inside the gates to this onsen mecca is a small sake brewer, Sakarimasu, which operates an even smaller brewery that produces Sagami Beer.
Interestingly, adjacent to the brewery is Selvaggina, a rather nice Italian restaurant that effectively functions as their brewpub. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides make the dining room seem more spacious than it really is, while a round wood-fired oven is the source of pizza that alone is a reason to make the trip from Tokyo. Add to that some other food standouts, paired with five varieties of smooth, clean-tasting Sagami Beer, and you have a prime dining destination. But it will certainly taste even better after a day of hiking or cycling in the mountains, followed by a dip in the hot springs.
Ristorante Selvaggia stands out among the Japanese-style buildings lining the road to Nanasawa Onsen.
Don’t miss the fabulous Parmesan Fries, a nod to U.S.-style brewpub food.
The food is quite good, and surprisingly inexpensive by Tokyo standards. Try the rosemary chicken with roast potatoes (¥1,200), Caesar’s salad with half-cooked hot springs egg (¥820), along with one of their fabulous pizzas made with a thin-crust dusted with fine corn meal. And don’t miss the Parmesan Fries (¥480), shoestring potatoes dusted with Parmesan and parsley the second they come out of the fryer.
The beer is smooth and easy going, with a clean taste that will make practically everyone a fan of craft beer. While hard-core beer enthusiasts many not find much of interest here, the remaining 98 percent of beer drinkers will applaud the refreshing briskness and creamy texture of the Weiss, the smooth quenching character of the slightly hoppy Pale Ale, the faintly fruity aroma and dry finish of the Kolsch, the tangy richness of the Alt and the coffee-chocolate notes of the dry Stout.
Best of all, most of these beers are available for purchase at the cash register to carry home, or to send by delivery service.
Take the Odakyu Line to Hon-Atsugi (about 55 minutes from Shinjuku by express, ¥480), go out the north exit and walk a block northeast to the bus center. From bus stop #9, take bus 33, 34, 38 or 39 to the “Rehabili Iriguchi” stop (about 20 minutes, ¥350). Just north of there, on the main road, is Selvaggina.
Map and directions: www.koganeishuzou.com/selvaggina/kaisyasyoukai.htm
808 Nanasawa, Atsugi-shi, Kanagawa-ken（神奈川県厚木市七沢808）
Phone: (046) 248-5555
Web: www.koganeishuzou.com/selvaggina/index.htm (Japanese only)
Hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily except Monday
(Open when Monday is a national holiday, but closed on Tuesday)
For more information on Sagami Beer and where to buy it, go to http://www.koganeishuzou.com/sagamibeer/index.htm (Japanese only)