The Local Brew
By Bryan Harrell
Oni Densetsu Beer
Founded in 1998, Oni Densetsu is operated by a company that makes all manner of confectionery treats purchased by tourists visiting Hokkaido. Since the island is an ideal place to produce beer, it only makes sense the parent company, Wakasaimo, would start brewing beer for sale in small gift packages.
Not surprisingly, the beer soon became quite good and in recent years has won several awards. As a result, you can now find Oni Densetsu beer in craft beer bars such as Beer Club Popeye in Tokyo.
Known for its solid Pilsener-style lager, Oni Densetsu is also famous for the Akaoni Red Ale, technically a brown ale tweaked to achieve a surprisingly reddish color through the use of roasted malts. At five percent alcohol, and with a slightly malty flavor with minimal hopping, it is a great beer for long fall evenings when nabe-style one-pot dinners are enjoyed.
During the rest of the year, the Pilsener seems to be a popular choice, as it is essentially a premium version of mass-produced Japanese beers from the four major brewers.
Oni Densetsu also produces a U.S. style pale ale brewed with American Cascade hops that impart light pine and citrus flavors. As a seasonal, they also make a raspberry fruit ale. Both of these beers are sold in larger 500-ml. bottles. In the past, Oni Densetsu has also brewed a strawberry beer made from locally grown berries.
If you are in the Noboribetsu area, you can drop by their pub on the same grounds as their brewery. Called the Noboribetsu Ji-Beer Kan, it is open daily but closes at 6 p.m. Phone ahead to confirm operating hours.
Oni Densetsu Beer
96-6 Naka Noboribetsu-cho
Noboribetsu-shi, Hokkaido 059-0463
Phone: (0143) 80-2110
Tel: (0143) 80-2111
Web: www.wakasaimo.com/onidensetsu/ (Japanese only)