Last month I wrote about my favourite places for craft beer. I half expected to receive death threats for failing to mention what is considered to be THE city’s craft beer: Baeren. The thing is, not mentioning it was deliberate. Some people are going to accuse me of being blasphemous, but I’m going to say it anyway:
I’m not a fan.
Although I know plenty of people who like it, I think it’s overpriced. Granted, it is craft beer, but I believe there is better quality out there for the same price.
The headquarters and brewery is located in Kitayama, in Morioka City, about 10 minutes by taxi or car from Morioka Station or 35 minutes if you choose to walk. Tours are available and you can reserve a spot by either phoning the brewery or via their online form. Be warned though, the form is only in Japanese.
Baeren also has three restaurants around the city, one in Nakanohashi, one in Saien and what is considered by the locals to be the main branch in Zaimoku-cho.
One cannot mention Zaimoku-cho without talking about the weekly markets known simply as, ‘Yoichi,’ by locals. Held every Saturday between 3:10pm-6:30pm, they begin on the first weekend in April and run until November when the temperatures drop drastically and we get the first snow of the season.
I would describe it as a place for locals and the occasional tourist to come, hang out, walk around and talk to people. If you like people watching, it’s also the perfect place to sit and just while away the afternoon. I also find Yoichi to be the kind of place people go as a kind of pre-drinks warm-up before a long and very big night of drinking.
Although other types of beer are available for sale, Baeren Beer definitely monopolises the scene. If you plan on being a regular you can get your very own glass with your name on it. That gives you the privilege of not having to line up with the rest of the plebs to wait for your beer. Think of it as a kind of express lane for beer!
Yoichi also features some food stalls, but overall, I found the whole thing seriously lacking. I have heard from long-term expats that it used to have more, but over the years seems to have dwindled.
Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to see a parade with mikoshi (御輿)or portable shrines being carried around or some kind of festival going on there.
I’m going to make my second blasphemous statement here and say that I think it’s overrated. I’ve been three times and that’s enough.
I guess people are wondering why I would then choose to write about it and my answer to that is that it’s a place many locals like and a feature many tourists want to see. It’s my job to report on that, but it’s also my belief that I need to be honest and give my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally bagging Baeren or Yoichi. I really like the summer beer, Radler, which is a low-alcohol, lemonade mix. It’s the perfect drink for Yoichi.
Why not go and check out both Yoichi and Baeren Beer for yourself? Whether you agree with me or not, both are something to experience in Morioka.
1 Chome-3-31 Kitayama,Morioka, Iwate 020-0061
Closed New Year’s holidays and January 22
Beer Pub Baeren Zaimoku-cho
7-３１Zaimokuchō, Morioka, Iwate 020-0063
Mon-Fri: 5pm-11pm (Food L.O. 10pm, Drink L.O. 10:30pm)
Sat: 3pm-11pm (Food L.O. 10pm, Drink L.O. 10:30pm)
Closed Sundays, holidays and every 2ndand 4thMonday
Beer Bar Baeren Nakanohashi
1-chōme-1-21 Nakanohashidōri, Morioka, Iwate 020-0871
Mon-Fri: 5pm-12am (Food L.O. 11pm, Drink L.O. 11:30pm)
Closed Sundays and holidays
Saien Micro Brewery
〒020-0024 Iwate, Morioka, Saien, 1 Chome−5−１０グリムハウス1F
Sat and Sun: 3pm-11pm (L.O. 11pm)