Kiuchi Brewery welcomes you

Kiuchi Brewery welcomes you

Monday I went to the Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki to make beer. For a fee they will design a beer with you, guide you through the beer making process, then when the beer is bucketed and ready for yeast pitching, they’ll pitch the yeast, watch fermentation, bottle it, and deliver it to you. The options are:

45 bottles, 15L: 27,180yen / 604yen per bottle
75 bottles, 25L: 43,500yen / 580yen per bottle
120 bottles, 40L: 66,720yen / 556yen per bottle
180 bottles, 60L: 95,760yen / 532yen per bottle

As you can see, it isn’t cheap but Kiuchi is one of only two breweries where you can make your own beer in Japan – and more importantly, they make my favourite Japanese beer: Hitachino Nest White Ale. I wanted to get the recipe straight from the owl’s mouth.

The brewing room

The brewing room

The instruction was in Japanese only since Yukie, our instructor, didn’t speak English. Since I went with someone Japanese and I’m familiar with the beer making process, that wasn’t a big problem. (Staff in the nearby bar and the owners do speak English so maybe they could arrange something if you’re going in a group that doesn’t speak Japanese – you’d need to check.)

There were two of us so we made two 15L beers. The first one obviously a White Ale clone, as exact to their recipe as possible. The second one we chose to be an IPA. This was a bit of a challenge since Hitachino Nest doesn’t actually have an IPA in their range – they have Pale and Amber ale only. And a further challenge because I wanted the beer more strongly hopped with flavour and aroma hops than the two beers in the Hitachino range with high flavour/aroma hops (XH and Pale ale).

The resulting recipe was bittered with Northern Brewer and flavour/aroma coming from Cascade. In addition they would “dry hop” the beer with Cascade leaf – something which Yukie said they’d never done before. It turned out that by dry hopping Yukie meant adding hops just before flameout – in addition to the aroma hops at 5m – and then leaving them in the bucket during fermentation. They said they couldn’t do dry hopping after fermentation – too much deviation from their set process of how to look after the beer when the customer goes (incidentally, turns out that none of their commercial beers have any dry hopping). While I’d prefer to add the hops after fermentation so that the aroma doesn’t escape with the CO2, at least it was a step in the right direction and I appreciated them trying something new.

I’ve used cascade several times so I asked Yukie about alternatives. She discussed the various hops they had in pellet form (NB, Perle, Chinook, Cascade, Challenger, Saaz, Styrian Golding, Hallertau, Kent Golding, and Tettnanger) and fresh leaf (Cascade and Sapphire). In the end, we changed aroma and flavour to 50% Cascade and 50% Challenger (supposedly spicy) with Sapphire being used for the dry hop. I haven’t heard of Sapphire before – a quick looking on the iPhone found this page on Beer Wikia. Sapphire sounds good:

Sapphire – A new breed of hop that is starting to replace the Hallertauer Mittlefrueh variety, which has become more and more susceptible to disease and pests. Shares many of the Hallertaur Mittlefrueh characteristics and is very well suited as an aroma hop. This hop is distinguished by a sweet and clean citrus aroma that has a hint of tangerine. (Alpha acid 2–4.5% / Beta acid 4–7%)

100g of Sapphire for 15L of beer - lovely!

100g of Sapphire for 15L of beer - lovely!

Doesn’t that look lovely? A whole bucket of Sapphire for “dry hopping”. I’ll write up the beer recipes at the end of this post.

The whole process was pretty easy and professionally controlled. Yukie controlled timing well – not surprising because on the previous day she’d had over 20 people making beer (weekends get busy!) Luckily for us, even though it was golden week, we had the whole place to ourselves! A private lesson – you can’t ask for better than that.

After making the beer we had a quick look at the old brewing setup (the new factory is a few miles away)…

The old brewing setup

The old brewing setup

…then relaxed in the bar and tried some of Kiuchi’s wines, beers, and sake that we didn’t know of or are less common (at extra cost of course, but still cheaper than a normal bar). The Red Rice and the Japanese Classic Ale were outstanding. Red Rice is nicer than the Pale/Amber ale, and JCA could easily overtake the White Ale to become my favourite beer. I’ve no idea why JCA is export only – it’s crazy!

Tasty...

Tasty...

After a comment of “Isn’t that guy with the beard walking about the owner?” to the bar staff, she asked if I wanted to talk with him, which after less than a minute chatting with him led to an invite to get in his car and go for a private tour of the new brewery!

The new brewery is huge. The beer making section is imposing by itself…

Where the magic happens..

Where the magic happens..

What happens if I touch this?

What happens if I touch this?

…but that doesn’t even hint as what lies past there – room after room of fermenters, lagering tanks, yeast cleaning tanks, and a huge new automatic bottling setup. I lost count as to how many tanks there were, but it must have been in the 40-50 range.

A few of the smaller tanks

A few of the smaller tanks

Some more..

Some more..

..and more - with the new bottling line on the right

..and more - with the new bottling line on the right

The buckets I use at home for fermentation? Here they were used for blow off. The sound of bubbling from this bucket containing the blow-off tube from a 4700L tank was orgasmic:

Envy

Envy

Returning back to the bar and trying some more beer while ordering a keg of White Ale to be delivered to my house, one of the other family members strolled by and asked whether we wanted a tour of the main factory. At closing time, after finding out there wasn’t another train out for another two hours, the same guy offered us a lift to Mito. Whether this was because we’re special ;) or whether this kind of service is offered to everyone, I don’t know – but it was nice.

In Mito, rather than get the train back, on a whim we decided to head to the Kiuchi owned restaurant in the hope of trying their Pilsner, which is only sold there. It took us quite a while to get there since we got lost a couple of times – why we didn’t ask to be dropped off there, I don’t know! – and when we got there they’d run out of pilsner (will I ever get to try it?!) but we did bump into Toshiyuki Kiuchi again (the owner who had given us the factory tour) and he gave us a free sample of an English ale which they only sell in that restaurant. They really should make those secret beers – Pilsner, Ale, Japanese Classic Ale – more easy to get!

This morning the keg of White Ale arrived – about 11,000yen for 15L with free delivery. They didn’t even charge us the keg fee, instead saying “Well if you don’t send the keg back, we’ll send you a bill!”

Yum!

Yum!

It’s very nice to have this beer on tap – I’ll no longer have to lug bottles back from Yamaya!

Here’s the brief run down on Beers ten and eleven.

Process

These beers are my first full all grain mash. Boil volume on both was 30L. The aim was to bottle 15L, but I’m guessing there was about 20L (maybe more) after boiling – some was wasted in the cooling pipes.

For mashing the wheat beer, there was 10m at 40 degrees, recirculate 5 x 2L (out through the tap at the bottom, pour back onto the grain), then 10m at 50 degrees, recirculate 5 x 2L, bring temp to 65 degrees, recirculate 2 x 2L, then 40m at 65 degrees, recirculate 5 x 2L, iodine test, then temperature was brought up to 76 degrees for 10 minutes filtering (take out wort slowly from the tap and pour back in slowly) and then lautering (sprinkling on 76 degrees water while taking out wort and pouring into another tank for boiling).

For the IPA, the 40 degrees step was dropped with the times for 50/65 increased.

Hops schedule:
1st hops: 13:40; 2nd: 14:00; 3rd: 14:10; 4th: 14:14; End 14:15
At 14:15, whirlpool then leave for 10m, then cool and bucket.

Lets drinking White Ale

This was to be as close to Hitachino Nest White Ale as possible. While we were told this was the same recipe, when visiting the new brewery I saw one of these being made. Our recipe had the orange peel ground with the coriander but in the whirlpool tank in the factory, orange peel was in a bag in the tank – so our recipe can’t be exactly the same.

2 Row: 4700g
Wheat: 2200g

1st hops: 20g, Perle pellets
2nd: none
3rd: 30g, Styrian Goldings pellets
4th: none
End: 50g coriander, 30g dried orange peel, 8g nutmeg – all ground

Let s Drinking with enjoy Our IPA

The recipe was calculated for an IBU of 42 and alcohol of 7.5% (no hydrometer was ever used so I can’t verify this). I find the Hitachino Nest pale ale and amber ale to be a little too bitter/dark and this was higher IBU than both of them – but XH has an IBU of 44 and alcohol content of 8.5% and it tastes very good, so hopefully this will be spot on.

Pale malt: 6400g
Munich malt: 1200g
Crystal 60L: 800g

1st hops: 33g, Northern Brewer pellets
2nd: 10g each of Cascade, Challenger pellets
3rd: 50g each of Cascade, Challenger pellets
4th: 100g of Sapphire fresh leaf in a hop bag
End: remove Sapphire before whirlpool and put into the bucket

These beers will be delivered June 6th – exactly a month from today!

I now have a total of six beers fermenting away:

Bucket 1: Brewferm Kriek with cherries (racked onto cherries on 25th April; looks like secondary fermentation is finished)
Bucket 2: Green Scottish West Coast Flasher IPA (started 27th April)
Bucket 3: All Fuggles Bitter (started 29th April)
2L bottles x 2: Mini IPA (started 2nd May 2009)
At Hitachino Nest 1: Lets drinking White Ale (started 4th May 2009)
At Hitachino Nest 2: Lets Drinking with enjoy Our IPA (started 4th May 2009)

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