My dad loves his beer and, more importantly than that, he knows his beer. He’s long managed our family business‘ imported beer department, bringing in more than 100 different brews from around the world. And one of those beer brands he’s stocked for two decades happened to be Hitachino Nest Beer, produced at the Kiuchi Brewery, right here in Japan.
Located in Naka-shi, Ibaraki, the brewery was founded in 1823. Today, they make 18 different types of beer, using both local and imported hops as well as the rice and barrels used to produce sake. Craig and I are big fans of the beer, so when my dad suggested we head out there for a brewery tour, I was more than happy to honor his request. The brewery took a couple of hours to get to, taking us to a small town in a beautiful setting, and it ended up being a fantastic afternoon well worth the trip.
Our tour guide, Hitomi, set us up first at the brewery’s restaurant, where we enjoyed an amazing soba lunch set and, of course, some beers. After that, she drove us and the rest of the group about 10 minutes away to the Nukada Brewhouse to see how it’s made. With international demand growing — more than half of the beer is exported, 80 percent of that going to the U.S. — they keep expanding, which means you may get to try Nest Beer soon!
The tour ended with a tasting of several of the brewery’s offerings (no complaints there). My favorites were the White Ale and Weizen, along with the Espresso Stout, which is a surprising choice for me, since I normally prefer lighter beers. All of the staff was very friendly and willing to answer all our questions. They even sent us off with coupons for free beers back at the Mito train station, where they have a restaurant.
Visiting the Kiuchi Brewery was wonderful to see my dad enjoy learning about something he’s so passionate about — a common thread tying his home and ours together. It doesn’t get better than that.