Asahi Beer, Denbeer and Denpark

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Asahi Beer Brewery, (and more beer in) “Denpark” (Aichi)
Tour Code: OK0523
Tour Fee: 7900 Discount Price: 6400

Date: Sunday, May 23rd

Tasting room, Asahi Brewery.

Tasting room, Asahi Brewery.

There are two types of beer in Japan, mass produced and craft. The mass produced beer is usually lager, though this is changing. The craft beers are a wide range. Today we will be sampling both.

There is something special about beer. Where would the world be without it? In fact it is often argued that beer production was one of the key incentives that persuaded human beings to cease a nomadic existence and grow grain crops. Beer didn’t arrive in Japan until much later, but it didn’t take long to catch on and gradually displace sake consumption. These days beer plays a vital part in keeping the wheels of Japanese society running smoothly.

Our first destination is the enormous Asahi Brewery in Nagoya. The company was founded in Osaka in 1889 and the first Asahi beer was chugged in 1892, but the massive Nagoya brewery established in 1973 is more or less the epitome of dedication to making a perfect beer.

The tour: Touring the plant takes approximately 90 minutes guided by Asahi’s public relations staff (usually attractive young women who some of our students suspect don’t drink much beer). The technology and attention to detail is to say the least, impressive. Even if you are not an industrial engineer, watching the massive conveyor belts, the control systems designed to build quality into the production process, the various robots and mechanically simple but superbly engineered production processes (if you also visit Toyota Motor Company you will note many resemblances) will make you very thirsty.

And this is very fortunate, because when the tour has been completed, its time to sample the product. Attached to the brewery is a small beer hall and a series of tasting rooms where the staff from the Asahi public relations team will do their best to encourage you to sample a range of beers (or other products including juice and sodas produced elsewhere by the same company). At this stage the propaganda tends to cease, though there is the inevitable gift shop.

One of the plant sculptures in the gardens of Denpark.

One of the plant sculptures in the gardens of Denpark.

From mass production, we move to micro production. In this case, we are visiting a very unusual place called “Denpark” in nearby Anjo city. These days, Anjo is essentially a satellite city of Nagoya. The area is mostly a flat, agriculturally rich floodplain, producing large amounts of rich and barley. However it also has some very hi-tech manufacturing industries, and so when promoting the city, local officialdom decided that the best way to describe Anjo would be to market it as “the Denmark of Japan”. It looks about as Danish as any other Japanese city, but for some reason the slogan caught on.

Which brings us to Denpark. A walled, publicly owned parkland, Denpark is a wonderful example of what Europe would look like, if Europe was designed by a bureaucrat in Anjo. The gardens are beautiful, changing with each season. The “secret garden” is brilliant, there is plenty of Lego (of course), and there is (of course) an exact replica of the Little Mermaid, sitting by the water in the enormous greenhouse.

It is a lot of fun, you can even become a little nostalgic, but after viewing the flowers and perfectly manicured lawns, mermaid etc, your tour guide will remind you that we are here for the beer.

Which brings us to the craft brewery. And (of course), it is named “Denbeer”. The tour fee includes all transport and entry fees, as well as dinner (but not beer) in Denpark. The food in the brewery restaurant is excellent, the beer is good, though not quite as good as the Shizuoka brews, and it is a great way to end the day.

Departs: East Exit, JR Okazaki Station, Sunday, 10:00am. Returns:7:30pm (approx)
Mode of transport: Minivan or Microbus
Deadline for Discount Price: 14 days prior
Tour Code: OK0523 (needed for application form below)

Click here to apply (opens new window).