The Local BrewBy Bryan Harrell
Nasu Kogen Beer
Located in the northern end of Tochigi Prefecture, Nasu Kogen Beer has always been one of the more classy and elegant craft brewers in Japan, from the lovely stillness of its restaurant to its rather complete line of well crafted ales in tall bottles sporting attractive labels. Founded in the fall of 1996, the brewery has won an impressive series of awards.
Perhaps the most famous of its beers is an aged barley wine called Nine-tailed Fox, featuring an impressively complex and exquisite aroma and an almost numbing 11% alcohol. This is a popular entry in many beer festivals, and Beer Club Popeye in Tokyo, a Mecca for Japanese craft beer, always stocks a version or two. The 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007 and 2008 versions of Nine-tailed Fox are still available.
Other impressive beers in the Nasu Kogen lineup include Weizen, English Ale, Scottish Ale, Stout and a refreshing light ale named “Ai” (Love). They also produce several seasonal beers each year, including a surprisingly popular strawberry ale. Last winter they produced an extremely well received lager, but it has long sold out. Beers usually cost between ¥600 and ¥800 and can be ordered from their Website.
The Nasu Kogen Beer brewery and restaurant are situated in a rather dense forest. From the restaurant, large windows look out into the impressive greenery, making for a very relaxing experience when combined with a few of their beers. Lunches run from ¥2,100 to ¥3,150, while evening meals should run about twice that. Do not miss the terrific bread made with beer yeast.
By car, the location is remarkably convenient, less than a kilometer from the Nasu Interchange on the Tohoku Expressway. Please phone ahead to confirm before your visit.
Nasu Kogen Beer那須高原ビール
Ōaza Takakukō 3986 Nasu-cho, Nasu-gun, Tochigi
Phone: (0287) 62-8958
Web: www.nasukohgenbeer.co.jp (Japanese only)