Tokyo Beer Drinker has recently veered dangerously close to writing something about Osaka, which as I probably said in the case of Kyoto, is a quite frankly massive area that deserves a site of its own. Today we’re back in Kansai but have once again decided to kick the can down the road when it comes to an Osaka digest post. I stand by the fact that I will never be able to cover those cities in any meaningful kind of way so am still unsure about how to proceed with them. I suspect it will end up with places I have visited being added to a post with the massive, even bigger than my usual ‘this is not comprehensive’ caveat, that there are plenty of other places that are not mentioned and probably deserve to be mentioned. Anyway, this is not an Osaka or Kyoto post so that’s all beside the point. Wakayama lies south of Osaka and is within semi-easy reach of it for a day trip if you want to try something different. I say semi-easy reach as Wakayama city is just over the prefectural border but is over an hour away on the train. If you want to travel further to visit some of the more famous Wakayama breweries like Nomcraft or Nagisa, you’ll be traveling a lot further. So this Wakayama prefecture round up actually only covers a few places in Wakayama city. When Tokyo Beer Drinker gets a massive investment from a benevolent billionaire who is only interested in making the site more comprehensive and not compromising the innate honour and integrity we have, I’ll visit those other places and write about them. Benevolent billionaire readers, please use the contact form and let’s talk. So here are a few Wakayama city places, one of which was closed, but which sounded kind of intriguing so is still mentioned.
Booze shop and standing bar in the shopping centre right next to Wakayama-shi station. Beware, this is maybe not the station you’ll be arriving at if you’re coming with JR. It is basically the city centre shop of the Heiwa Shuzo brewery which makes all sorts of booze. They seem most famous for their Nihonshu and Umeshu but have a range of beers too called Heiwa Craft. They had eight taps of beer available to drink which included a few seasonals. Beer flights were available too. Regular size beers were all ¥600 for 280ml. The flight was ¥1000 for three glasses, maybe about 150ml each, which arrived on/in a nice little tray/stand. They had some really nice little snacks too which were light bites featuring traditional Japanese foodstuffs. I have to admit after having a couple of their beers before and being a bit underwhelmed by them I was quite surprised to find that some of them were actually very nice. Had a quite a lot of fun here going through the tap list and then switching to the umeshu. Quite a start to the day!
Nest Craft Beer & Coffee
Our second stop was Nest, which is a nice looking little bar in an old shopping arcade closer to the centre of the city. (The two stations are basically on either side of the city centre). There is a long tree trunk bench kind of seat along one side of the bar and the rest of the space is standing. I was quite knackered when we were here so had a little trouble remaining on the tree trunk and not sliding off but people who aren’t as old/tired/weak as me should be ok. There is also a standing area outside where you can take in the riverside vibes (maybe). Someone has done a nice job of decorating. I liked looking at the spirals on the walls and ceiling which reminded me of a cross between a Juan Miro painting and some records. There might be a better artistic comparison (and I can see the painting I’m thinking of in my mind), but I can’t come up with who painted it, so you’ll have to make do with this one. Basically black circles and colourful swirls. Five taps of Japanese craft with some local selections. I was quite impressed with the list to be honest and there were plenty of things I wanted to drink. Generally speaking the beers are in three sizes, which I’d guess were about 250ml, 350ml and 450ml and were priced at ¥750, ¥900 and ¥1050 respectively. Some of the beers were a little bit extra though. There is also a bottle shop across the corridor, but I’m sad to say that I don’t know how this works and was so tired that I couldn’t be bothered to try to work it out. So you’ll have to do that yourself. Sorry! This was another fun place to drink.
Wakayama Brewery Sandaime (Agara Craft)
Our last stop was another brewery related place, and this time the brewing is actually done on site. The Wakayama Brewery brewpub makes beers under the Agara Craft banner which to be honest, I don’t think I had ever heard of. This place feels quite a lot like an izakaya that just happens to make craft beer and they sell their own beers and some guests. Most of the other customers there when we visited didn’t seem to be drinking the house beers. They had about 12 taps, two thirds of which were their own beers. The glass size was about 300ml and the prices ranged from around ¥700 to ¥900. I tried to go through all of their beers but was getting scuppered by a full stomach at this stage so we only ended up being able to try six. I also ordered a way too big stack of onion rings, and with twenty minutes left before we had to leave and get our bus, I was really up against it. You’ll be pleased to hear that both my glass and the onion ring tower were empty with a minute to spare and I was left hoping that I wouldn’t burst on the train back to Osaka. The beers were a bit of a mix, but I like to support these kind of places, especially when they focus on using lots of local ingredients as this place did. As we were in Wakayama there were plenty of citrus beers and a sansho one. All in all, it was a fun place to finish the day. I don’t think anyone will come away from here thinking they have just drunk the best beers of the day, but I didn’t have any trouble finishing them and had a bit of a soft spot for the sansho one and the sakura one, which lets be honest isn’t something people say very often!
This was the place that was closed on the Sunday we visited Wakayama. Oryzae deserves a mention because of their unique selling point of being a brewery that makes beers without malt and uses Koji (the mould they use to make Nihonshu) instead. Having never tired any of their beers, I can’t say if that is a good idea or not, but it’s certainly interesting and I noticed that they also had some interesting records on display in the pictures on their website. The combination of these two things means that I think it’s definitely worth a mention.