Of why I haven’t caught whiff of the free Asahi Brewery tour earlier, I might not forgive myself. My partner and I have always regarded Osaka as a magical place; it was there after all that we first met. We’ve gone back to “The Nation’s Kitchen” twice since then, and I guess among the blur of ramen bowls, okonomiyaki and endless plates of curries, we got a little bit preoccupied.
But on our third visit, going on a tip from a friend, we sought out the Asahi Brewery in Suita, which is apparently well-loved for their after-tour free tasting. The Suita station is conveniently along the JR Kyoto line, and I would highly recommend this stopover, if you’re ever on your way between the two cities. To join an English tour group, you would need to call ahead to reserve slots. If you’re handy with your Japanese, however, I believe walk-ins are allowed.
If you’ve been to brewery tours before, you might have heard the same spiel about the sorcery that turns malt, hops and water into an enchanting, and literally intoxicating, brew. What I found interesting in this tour was that the visuals used for the presentation were well thought-out, from the revolving giant beer cans, to the cinema, to the escalators that whisk you from one factory section to another. The viewing route is integrated seamlessly into the brewery facility, that you can’t help but consider that at the time the blueprints were drawn, the owners must have had their hearts set on not only having a factory to brew world-class beer, but also a platform where they could best showcase their history.
And as for the legendary free tasting — ah, what an experience it was! We were assigned our own table in the tasting hall, where they not only spoiled us with three glasses each of Asahi Super Dry, but also thoughtfully indulged us with a salty snack. As if that’s not enough, they also gave us as many samples as we liked of their new highball (an alcoholic drink typically mixed with fruit juice). Talk about the bee’s knees! I mean, visiting Osaka Castle was nice and all, but so far, this experience is probably one I’ll recommend to friends the most in this city. The next time I wash down that chewy takoyaki with an ice-cold swill of Asahi, it’ll not be without a wistful thought of that day we were pampered at the Asahi Suita Brewery.
For more information about the Asahi Factory Tour in Suita, you can check out their site here. If you’re more of a whisky fan, their sister brand Nikka offers free Whisky Factory tours as well. The reasons to love Osaka just keep on coming. =)