It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been to Nara and I think all of the places mentioned below opened since my last visit. Nara is a nice touristy city to visit but is surprisingly not as accessible as you might expect given its proximity to Kyoto and Osaka. I think there are a few more places in the town, and a few more breweries in the prefecture, but we stuck with the places that make beer that we could get to easiest and were most confident about. Sadly, our favourite one was the least easy to get to, but I’d say it was still definitely worth it.
Probably what most people consider to be the best brewery in Nara, but not the easiest place to get to. Nara Brewing is a bit out of town and the best way to go is to walk about 10 minutes from Aeon Mall Koriyama. There are buses to get to the mall from a few stations in the area. Only open in the afternoon on weekends, and only if it’s not raining (although this perhaps might be only during COVID times, but those times have been going on for so long now it’s hard to say), so you have to be careful about when you visit. It’s basically just a small taproom at the brewery, which is on an industrial estate, with some tables outside. They had four taps on when we visited (but with about the same number not being used, so there’s room for more when things are a bit different), along with some cans and bottles to take away or drink on site. They also do crowlers for some of the beers (the ones that aren’t available in bottles or cans as far as I could tell). Prices are good and it’s a fun place to drink. Take your own food and pray for a clear but not too hot day.
Yamato Craft Beer Table
Brewpub in the city centre, close to the Kintetsu station at the end of a shopping arcade. Around 10 taps, half of which were their own and the rest guests. Beer flight available. Food was pretty nice pub stuff. The kind of atmosphere you’d expect from a craft beer pub but intriguingly they seemed to be playing 60’s psych music which just about eluded identification which was quite strange. Perhaps it was a covers album by a very authentic sounding local band. I quite liked a couple of their beers. The other two I had weren’t quite as nice, but it was a fun place to go and has its accessibility in its favour.
Nara Machi Craft Beer
Still in Nara city but about a 15 minute walk from the Kintetsu station so a bit of a pain in the neck. But it’s a picturesque walk as you’d expect given that it’s in Nara city. Very up-market feel to the place and the decor, atmosphere, and food all felt quite different from Yamato. Five or six of their own beers on tap. I wasn’t so sure about them to be honest, but we only stayed for a couple and maybe I got unlucky. Cheese plate was very nice though! Definitely offers something different from the other places in (and out of) town.