Craft beer in Japan didn’t come about until approximately 25 years ago.
Until 1994, Japanese laws required that a place needed to be able to produce at least 2 million liters of beer each year in order to acquire a license. As craft beer is produced in smaller batches, it was therefore virtually, if not impossible, to make beer legally.
Nowadays only 60,000 liters is necessary which makes it far easier for those interested in craft beer brewing. Unlike regular beer, craft beer is considered purer as it contains only four ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. Morioka, like many other places around Japan, has a number of places where craft beer is available and indeed, where it has pride of place. Sure, you can drink ordinary Japanese beer at most of these bars, but you can also try your hand (or is it tastebuds?) at some of the craft beers on offer. Although smaller than other places like Tokyo, Osaka or even Sendai, Morioka is in no way behind the trends found in other places, nor does it miss out on some of the more important things in life (like beer!) just because of its size.
In fact, in this article, I’m going to introduce you to what I consider to be the Top 3 Craft Beer Spots in Morioka.
The first place I stepped into when I arrived in Morioka, was Aeron Standard, simply referred to as, ‘Aeron,’ by the locals and regulars. Located on the block just before Kaiunbashi (開運橋) or Kaiun Bridge, it’s in the perfect location as a lot of pedestrian traffic passes it and it is within walking distance of public transport.
Aeron has a hip atmosphere and attracts a mostly young crowd, but of course, anyone is welcome! As one of the few places in Morioka to offer a daily, ‘Happy Hour,’ you’ll often find seasoned drinkers or older gentlemen coming in when it first opens to take advantage of the 300 yen deals. The craft beer range is extensive and although most of the beers come from America, my personal favorite is the locally produced, Galaxy Express. It’s an IPA and at 6%, does pack more of a punch than ordinary Japanese beer. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, Galaxy Express is often sold out, so if it is available, make sure you grab it before you miss out.
Craft Kitchen, otherwise known as (on Google Maps at least!), as Cisco Ocean Dining. Located on Eigakandori or Cinema Street, it’s easy to find and a comfortable walk to most places. It’s right across from the 7-Eleven and is on the 1F of the building. At any one time there are 15 craft beers on tap from around Japan and occasionally, America, but there are also bottles and cans available from a fridge just inside the door immediately to your left as you walk in. Be warned though, craft beers do make for an expensive night. I had five drinks (most of them ½ pints) and my bill was over 4000 yen. Eek!
The third and final place I highly recommend is the aptly named, CraftBeer Hoppers.
Just around the corner from Aeron, it’s also in a conveniently accessible place. Being so close to Aeron, it’s also a great place to go if they’re full or vice versa! With 10 or more beers on tap at one time, CraftBeer Hoppers offers beer from not only Iwate Prefecture, but also all over Japan. If you prefer something from overseas, bottled beer is also available. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and will gladly recommend a beer if you’re not sure what to order. The shop has a really great vibe and like both Aeron and Craft Kitchen, offers both counter and table options for individuals or groups.
Craft beer in Japan is a thriving industry and is continuing to grow. Why not try something a little different and see what you think?
Kanpai! (かんぱい！) Cheers!
3 Chome-7-9 大通りMorioka, Iwate 020-0022
Mon-Thurs: 5pm-1am (L.O. 12am)
Fri and Sat: 5pm-2am (L.O. 1am)
2 Chome-1-23 Odori, Morioka, Iwate 020-0022
Mon-Thurs: Lunch- 11:30am-2:30pm (L.O. 2pm)
4pm-1am (L.O. 12am)
Fri: Lunch- 11:30am-2:30pm (L.O. 2pm)
4pm-1am (L.O. 1am)
Sundays: Usually closed, check the website for more details.
Mon-Sat: 4pm-11pm -Closed Sundays