Founded in July of 1996 on the western side of Japan’s Northern Alps, Hida Takayama Beer is one of Japan’s earliest microbreweries. Unfortunately, there is only a brewery; no restaurant or pub to sample the brew in this beautiful setting. However, the beers can be ordered directly from the brewery and a few found in craft brew bars in the greater Tokyo area.
Beer from this brewery was among some of the first Japanese craft beer I enjoyed and, over the years, I have developed a fondness for their Dark Ale. This beer, in particular, represents the solid, no-nonsense approach of all their beers.
These include Pilsener, Pale Ale, Weizen and Stout. Like the Dark Ale, they are all 5% alcohol except for the Stout, which comes in at a hefty 7%. All are well balanced yet conservative in the sense there is nothing about them that draws undue attention.
Do not expect any excess bitterness or boosted flavors. Rather, everything is smooth and superbly drinkable with flavors that tend to be understated.
In recent years, however, a few new beers they have released certainly buck this trend. A good example is their Karumina, a dark and highly flavorful beer patterned largely after a Belgian abbey beer, with a massive 10% alcohol that demands restraint when enjoying.
Sweet and best for slow sipping, Karumina is usually available in Tokyo at Beer Club Popeye (www.70beersontap.com) in Ryogoku.
Over the years, the Hida Takayama Beer has kept a fairly low profile on the beer scene in Japan. However, after all this time they are still in business, which means they must have a good number of beer fans throughout the country who appreciate the quality of their beers and their low-key approach.
Hida Takayama Beer
Takayama-shi, Gifu Prefecture 506-0808
Phone: (0577) 35-0365
Web: www.hidatakayamabeer.co.jp (Japanese only)