The Local BrewBy Bryan Harrell
Where Craft Beer in Japan First Began
The new brewpub for Echigo Beer was quite a sight when it opened in December of 1994. Echigo and Ohotsk Beer in Hokkaido were the first to receive brewing licenses in Japan in late ’94, but Echigo opened first.
Most striking were the high ceilings and the heavy European influence in the architecture, giving it a certain “church-like” ambience. At the time, most of the beers brewed were American versions of European traditional brews – pale ale, amber ale and stout, along with German-style Pilsener.
The company has been through a number of changes, most notably the construction of a second brewery in 1999 for the production of a lower cost canned product, leaving the original brewery to concentrate on small-batch handcrafted beers.
Production at the original brewery carries on this tradition, in tandem with offering high quality food and a pristine atmosphere that encourages a religious devotion to the enjoyment of some of the finest beer being brewed in Japan.
Highlighted on the menu are artisan-style sausage, salami and other prepared meats from small Japanese producers, while numerous packaged examples are offered in their gift shop. Not surprisingly, this is where bottles of Echigo Beer in various sizes are available for take-home sales.
In recent years the facility has been open only in the warmer seasons, opening this year in mid-April on weekends and holidays only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special arrangements can be made for parties on weekdays as well.
Nestled on a hill and framed by a pine forest, Echigo Beer offers not only great food and beer along with a relaxing rest, but also a true historical experience for enthusiasts of craft-brewed beer.
Echigo Beer Brewpub
3970 Fukui, Nishikan-ku, Niigata City 953-0076
〒953-0076 新潟県新潟市西蒲区福井 3970
Tel: Weekdays: (0256) 72-2039; weekends and holidays: (0256) 72-0640