Golden Week and two football away games gave us the excuse to take an extremely indirect route back home from Fukuoka via Kyoto, visiting plenty of Shimane places on the way. We crossed into Tottori briefly, but the place we went to there was a Belgian beer bar, and having visited no other places, it seemed like it would be a bit weird to start a Tottori digest post for just one place that doesn’t even serve Japanese beer. Daisen changed their opening hours between us booking the trip and actually making the trip, so I’m in a bit of a mood with them, but hope I can make it there one day and then get the Tottori post going. Anyway, this is a Shimane post. Shimane was a really nice place to visit and we had a great time there. There were plenty of places we missed, partly due to Golden Week affecting opening hours and partly through bad luck. But I can definitely see myself going back there, even though it is pretty hard to get to.
Our first stop in Shimane, home of the famous shrine Izumo Taisha. There were a few places here that were closed when we were there, and the local brewery Izumo Brewing closed their city centre taproom a few weeks before our visit so that was one place we couldn’t go. They still have a branch near the shrine, but it’s a daytime thing and the shrine is quite a way from the city centre.
Beer Teria Cna
Our only stop in the city centre. Interesting place with a funkily designed counter, a few tables and a secret private room. I say secret, but we could hear people in there so maybe not so secret after all. Mix of Japanese craft from all over with some surprising selections and some Belgian stuff too. Feel like it used to be a Belgian bar and has since embraced Japanese craft. Food was nice, but there was a cover charge.
3rd Barrel Brewery
The main point of our trip to Izumo, even though it’s a little way out of the city, (only about 20 mins), on the private Dentetsu line in Hirata city. I’d had one of their beers in Fukuoka on a previous trip and had been intrigued by this brewery who seem to be making beers in styles that appeal to me. The brewery is in an old kura district. The picture above is where you buy the drinks and then you can drink them at a selection of seats they put outside along the front of the building. Not sure if it’s like this on weekdays too, but it was on the Sunday we went there. Amazingly friendly staff and locals, some of whom offered to share their table with us. It was quite overwhelming in a really nice way. Thank you to all of them! Four taps of their beers on with some others in cans and bottles too. Check the calendar on their social media to find out when they are open. It seems that at the time of our visit the bottle shop and drinking on site was available most days, but please do check before making the trip. I guess also that during the week, it won’t be so bustling. Unless the locals drink hard every day. Also, it’s only open during the day time, so you should plan your visit carefully. I really hope I can try some of their beers in Tokyo soon. Or visit them again. My favourite place of the whole trip.
A little way east of Izumo. If you go on the train, you’ll go along the shores of Lake Shinji. It’s a nice looking train journey. Felt like there was a bit more going on here than there was in Izumo, but maybe that’s because we were in Izumo on a Sunday.
Craft Beer Paradise Matsue
Interesting and fairly new place. Lots of taps, about 25. They had a two hour all you can drink option which if we hadn’t already been boozing would have been a lot of fun as they offer a discount if you pour your own beers! Lots of stuff from Shimane breweries that you probably won’t find on tap anywhere else. Food was good too. When we went in we were hoping that they would be able to survive as it didn’t seem very popular. When we left about an hour and a half later, most of the seats were full, so it seems that they are doing OK! Alongside the local stuff there is some other Japanese craft too.
If I said Craft Beer Paradise was an interesting place, this has to go down as an absolutely insane place. As you can maybe see from the picture, there’s a kind of space punk theme to the bar which continues throughout, with metal pipes and electric wires and equipment all over the place. There was an interesting mix of clientele, none of whom seemed to be the kind of people who I would have imagined would be in a place like this. But the reason they were probably there was because this place seems to serve an amazingly well curated mix of every kind of alcohol you can think of. Of course, I am not a expert in all kinds of alcohol so I’m going on what others have said, but basically, whatever booze you’re interested in, you can have some really nice stuff here. There were about 15 taps of Japanese craft, with a decent selection of local stuff. I think there were five taps of Beer Hearn. The cheese selection was great too and I was so interested in the bottles of Nihonshu that I ended up having a couple of glasses of Daiginjyo. The server was really friendly and seemed very knowledgeable too. Ask him for recommendations. Great place that I never would have guessed would have been so good. I definitely will be back.
Ji Beer Kan (Shimane Beer Co / Beer Hearn)
A slightly sad end to this post, as the beer hall restaurant of the Shimane Beer Co / Beer Hearn brewery is currently closed. However the downstairs standing bar, (one upright barrel table in a souvenir shop), is still open. Apparently the upstairs is under renovation, but there didn’t seem to be much of that kind of thing going on. Perhaps it was unsustainable during COVID and hasn’t come back to life yet. I hope it gets going again. Anyway, for the time being you can still stand at the end of the big souvenir shop drinking their beers. They had five taps on, including one seasonal, and offered a beer flight too. In the fridge they had a lot of other seasonals in cans too. Not sure if you can drink them on site or they are just for takeaway though. Think it’s still worth a visit and it’s quite near the castle. But it would definitely be a lot more fun if the restaurant was open.