The unique Sweet Potatoes Beer and the traditional hand-made Sake in Kawagoe
Beer or Sake have a very strong connection to the local produce, water and people, and it is one of the real pleasures of traveling to taste beer or sake that can only be tasted in that area, along with the story of the birth of these alcoholic beverages. Coedo beer and Kagamiyama sake were also made with the strong passion and commitment of Kawagoe lovers.
As an American with a taste for beer, I’ve had more than one experience sitting in a sports bar eating my favorite burger or buffalo wings, with an ice-cold beer to top off the experience. While that is something I’ll always enjoy, there’s something special about a good Japanese drink that can’t really compete.
Kawagoe, also known as “ko-edo”(小江戸)(meaning small capital city), has an appropriately named regional beer called “Coedo Beer” that is made right in the local area. I recently had the opportunity to go to their factory and experience their beer making process firsthand, as well as learn about just how amazing Coedo beer is as well as its fascinating history.
Made beer from local specialty “sweet potatoes”
Coedo Brewery graciously allowed a personal tour for me and a few of my fellow students. Upon arrival I noticed that the building was well maintained and was equally as refined as the beer that the brewery created. We were met with a warm welcome by Mr. Harada who first showed us a brief presentation explaining Coedo’s fascinating history. From there we were guided to the well-established trophy case that featured metals and awards from international and global competitions. In my home country USA for example, Coedo has won a bronze medal for their Beniaka beer, a gold award for Shikkoku and Shiro, not to mention that they have won the silver world beer cup for their Kyara beer and Beniaka, and many more awards for their refined taste all around the globe. While Mr. Harada showed and explained to us Coedo’s success, I could feel the passion he had for his job and the pride he held for the company.
Passionate about beer making equipment
As we entered the factory tour, Mr. Harada pointed out that Coedo did not want to cheapen their beer with low-grade manufacturing machinery. A lot of their equipment used to brew Coedo beer has been shipped from Germany, one of the beer capitals of the world. While cheaper machinery might save some money on the short run, it breaks down more easily. In order to maintain the quality and compassion that the beer exudes, the equipment must meet the same criteria.
In July 2020, Coedo opened "COEDO BREWERY THE RESTAURANT" in Kawagoe. Here, there is a brewery in the restaurant where you can enjoy freshly made beer.
Their team of dedicated, hard-working artisans bring to their craft the delicate sensibilities of the Japanese spirit—and this painstaking approach has earned them fans around the world. Their Beniaka beer is distinctively Japanese in its use of the sweet potatoes grown in the tranquil farmlands of Kawagoe. They know that as Japanese we have something special to offer the world of beer, and are proud to offer people near and far the experience of Coedo—a true Japanese craft brew.
COMPANY AND RESTAURANT INFORMATION - COEDO BREWERY THE RESTAURANT
- 8-1 Wakitahoncho, Kawagoe City U_PLACE 1F
- Opening hours
am11:30 - pm11:00 (L.O. pm10:00)
*Closed from pm3:00 to pm5:00 on weekdays
- Coedo Brewery Co., Ltd(English)
Kagamiyama Sake has a long history of being on the Japanese market. It started during the Meiji era in 1875 as a brand that people adored. While the brewery lasted for over one hundred years it was finally closed in 2000. This obviously wasn’t the end of Kagamiyama brewery though, because in 2007 the Sake brand re-opened right in the heart of Ko-edo and began once again making its deliciously loved sake. The brand regained its fame, being advertised and mentioned on TV and in newspapers. Kagamiyama sake proudly makes their sake from rice within the local Kawagoe area, allowing for small business to help small businesses.
Old-fashioned hand-made sake that does not use machines
I was fortunate to visit was the Koedo Kagamiyama Sake Brewery. Currently to make up for sake craftsman shortage, there is an increasing number of sake brewers who use machines to automate some sake brewing processes, but Kagamiyama makes sake all by their hand. The amount of sake produced is small and it takes time, but Kagamiyama puts quality first, that is Kagamiyama's commitment.
Two weeks into the fermentation process, the sake is almost like a coca-cola can that you have dropped a mentos into, so this top-layer is a sweet carbonated-like substance. It smelled super fruity and delicious when the sake craftsman, Mr. Igarashi guide opened the lid!
In the early stages of brewing, this is going to go into a heated room where a special type of mold called Koji will create something called a saccharification process before it will ferment as we saw in the first picture. Sake is one of the highest percentages of alcohol that you can find in Japan. Luckily, this place actually offers a brochure in English which includes a lot of different information about sake, how you pour it properly and how sake is being made.
This room is at + 35 degrees celsius and we got to enter and see how they make it the perfect environment for the mold to work its magic, apparently the workers line each little rice corn up on a special table in order for it to work properly. What hard work it takes to make sake! But after getting the chance to try it I know why it is worth it in the end.
Finally we did get to taste some sake. I am usually not the most avid sake drinker because it tends to be pretty dry and strong, but oh wow how good this was! It did not taste as strong as I expected it and it was almost sweet. I definitely think this would also be a great souvenir to bring with you to your own country - because the flavor was very unique. Another point I really loved about this place, is that just as the Koedo beer place they appreciate nature and try to use local products. This place also uses rice that is grown in the Kawagoe area and it uses water from Saitama. This type of eco thinking seems to become more and more common in Japan these days and it really fills my nature-loving heart with joy.
The Japanese sake is very popular not only in Japan but also in Italy, Singapore, Thailand and in many other countries. There are many sake companies who are working hard to give their best sake to the market but here Kagamiyama is doing something different like from the most delicious rice till the end. They want to export their sake in the whole world which leads their motivation to make tasty sake for the customers.