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Haneda Airport Brewery flavors soapy water with wasabi, green tea; Works with entities across Japan to introduce local specialties

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Brewmaster Fumiya Kitagawa has his hands on a beer made in collaboration with local entities in Japan.

A restaurant near Haneda Airport is making waves for its craft beers, flavored with local specialties from all over Japan.

Haneda Sky Brewing in Ota Ward, Tokyo, has so far collaborated with municipalities and local entities from 15 prefectures to create beers with unique flavors and aromas, with the mission to brew beer with ingredients from all 47 prefectures.

The restaurant in the Haneda Innovation City complex next to the airport serves craft beer from its own brewery. The beers brewed in collaboration with local specialties have recently gained popularity among customers.

The idea of ​​working with different regions emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Haneda Sky Brewing opened in July 2020 to coincide with the opening of Innovation City. However, it struggled to attract customers due to the government’s coronavirus measures, which urged eateries to shorten opening hours and stop serving alcohol.

“Daily sales did not exceed ¥10,000, and we were at a loss,” recalled Sachiko Oya, president of restaurant operator Taiho Co.

One day, Taiho’s business partner The Johnan Shinkin Bank introduced Oya to a winery in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, which was looking for an application for its red wine pulp. The credit union in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward serves as a secretariat for a nationwide network of credit unions that helps match businesses.

After it was proposed to make a wine beer, Haneda Sky Brewing used the pomace to make Budo no Sora Ale (Grape sky ale). Various media picked up the creation and the brewery received inquiries from municipalities and local entities throughout Japan.

A series of collaborations turned into a full-fledged project, and the beers have become so popular that they sell out within a week or two with each new release.

“The project created an opportunity for regional municipalities to promote their Tokyo specialties,” said Kyoji Kawamoto, chairman of Johnan Shinkin Bank. “We didn’t expect collaborative beers to become so big.”

Flavors from all over Japan

Each collaboration produces approximately 230 liters of beer, or approximately 500 bottles.

Most proposals come from regional cooperation partners. Suggestions include ingredients such as wild grapes from Nishikawa, Yamagata Prefecture, and raspberries from Yamatsuri, Fukushima Prefecture, as well as more challenging ones: garlic from Fukushima College; wasabi from Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture; and field mustard from Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture.

For the March collaboration, Haneda Sky Brewing worked with the Ureshino city government to use Ureshino brand green tea.

Initially, brewmaster Fumiya Kitagawa wasn’t sure how the tea’s antibacterial properties would affect the yeast.

Kitagawa experimented in a small pot as he came up with the recipe. He adjusted the temperature and time of adding tea leaves and powder to avoid creating a bitter taste during the brewing process and managed to retain the sweetness and umami of the tea in the beer.

Ureshino Mayor Daisuke Murakami tasted the beer at an unveiling ceremony and said, “I was so impressed because it tasted exactly like Ureshino tea.” The Ureshino Tea Ale is already sold out.

“As a brewer, some of the suggested ingredients are very challenging,” says Kitagawa. “But it’s exciting when I open a door that’s never been opened before and make something tastier than expected.”

Donate to earthquake victims

craft beer2
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Taiho President Sachiko Oya, second from left, and Johnan Shinkin Bank Chairman Kyoji Kawamoto, third from left, pose with red snow crabs during a brewing ceremony in Ota Ward, Tokyo, on April 9.

A Hokuriku Oen Ale made from red snow crab caught in Toyama Bay is currently in development to support the Hokuriku region after it was hit by the Noto Peninsula earthquake. The finished beer will be unveiled at the Hokuriku support event at Haneda Innovation City on May 25 and 26, where area companies will set up stalls selling their specialties.

Hokuriku Oen Ale will cost 880 yen per bottle, with 100 yen per bottle donated to support the disaster-stricken area.

Including the beers still in the preparation phase, there are now 28 collaborative beers from Haneda Sky Brewing. Oya says the company aims to “conquer” all 47 prefectures with its beers.

“We want to take advantage of Haneda’s location and promote various local specialties to people inside and outside Japan through beer.”

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