I love Hokkaido, and have often gone bicycle touring there. A friend and I once decided to ride from Otaru to Hakodate, two of the most interesting and historic port cities on the island.
When we were within a day of Hakodate, we cycled through the Onuma Region, home to Onuma National Park with its two lakes, one large (Onuma) and one small (Konuma). This was in the early ’90s, and had we waited to go after August, 1997 we could have availed ourselves to some delicious brews at Onuma Beer.
The brewery and restaurant, known as Brau Haus Onuma, is located near Onuma Koen Station on the JR Hakodate Honsen. It is open year-round from 9 a.m. to a maddenly early 4 p.m. closing. Here you can enjoy Hokkaido-produced sausage and cheese dishes as well as the three kinds of beer offered on tap and for take-out in cans and bottles.
Kölsch is a light, blonde 5% ale originating in Köln, Germany, and it will likely please most palates; Onuma’s version is quite good. Their Alt, a light brown 5% ale originating in Düsseldorf, is less pleasing, though their stronger 8% India Pale Ale, a British style strong ale now wildly popular in the U.S., is quite interesting, with its brisk hop bitterness and tangy, rich malt flavor.
All three styles are available in 350-ml. cans (¥525), 330-ml. bottles (¥630) and 500-ml. bottles (¥1,050) and one-liter bottles (¥2,100). The pricing structure oddly favors the smaller sizes, and I would recommend the cans for their ease of transport and light-barrier properties.
Besides, these days, cans don’t taste like “cans” any more. All products may be ordered for home delivery directly from the brewery for a small shipping charge.
208 Onuma-machi, Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun, Hokkaido 041-1354
亀田郡 七飯町 大沼町
Phone: 0120-162-142 (toll-free inside Japan)
Fax: (0138) 67-1678
Note: Tokyo readers may enjoy Onuma Beer at Hokkaido Dishes in Tokyo, 7-8-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku; Tel. (03) 5568-5959. Best to phone ahead to confirm availability.