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Craft Beer in Kumamoto

Kumamoto has a deep and rich history of making all kinds of alcohol, and beer is no exception. Compared to larger cities, Kumamoto may have fewer breweries and beer halls, but the scene is steadily growing thanks to the passionate work of its craft beer brewers and purveyors.

Let’s take a look at Kumamoto’s craft beer breweries and bottleshops where you can buy some of their beer.

Craft Beer Breweries

Kumamoto Craft Beer

Image courtesy Kumamoto Craft Beer Facebook page

Kumamoto Craft Beer is Kumamoto City’s oldest operating brewery, having opened in 1997 during the ji-beer boom. The brewery was originally located opposite Kumamoto Station and operated a beer hall on premises, but moved to their current location near the Kumamoto IC along the Kyushu Expressway a number of years ago.

The brewing equipment was designed and basic beer recipes developed by a brewer from the famed U Fleků brewery in Prague, Czech Republic. The recipes were tweaked to work best with Kumamoto’s excellent water.

Image courtesy Kumamoto Craft Beer Facebook page

Kumamoto Craft Beer makes four standard beers: a pilsner, a pale ale, a weizen, and a tasty dark lager very much in the vein of the Flekovský ležák for which U Fleků is famous. They also occasionally make limited releases like IPAs and Oktoberfest/marzens.

The brewery is not open for tours.

 

Diamond Brewing/Kaen

Image courtesy Diamond Brewing Facebook page

Diamond Brewing started out as Kaen, a grill restaurant located in the Nagamine neighborhood in the east of Kumamoto City. The back corner of the restaurant was renovated to fit in a small but efficient brewery that opened for business in 2017 just before Japan’s beer laws changed.

Diamond Brewing opened a second restaurant downtown (right behind City Hall) called World Beer Terminal, where you can find a number of Diamond Brewing beers on tap, plus a number of other domestic and international craft beers.

Image courtesy Diamond Brewing Facebook page

The small size of the brewery makes providing a steady supply of a single flagship beer difficult, but this in turn means Diamond Brewing is always trying something new and experimenting with new techniques. Diamond Brewing is especially good at collaborating with local municipalities and farmers to develop interesting beers made with locally sourced ingredients, which in the past have included licorice beers, goses made with salt from nearby Amakusa, bankan IPAs, and more.

Image courtesy Diamond Brewing Facebook page

A third location, Seafood Beer Station, opened in the new Amu Plaza shopping center at Kumamoto Station in the spring of 2021. There is also talk of opening up a larger brewery in the next few years.

The current brewery is not open for tours but the equipment is fully visible from the dining area at Kaen.

 

Sonar Beer

Kumamoto’s newest brewery is located in Amakusa and opened for business in early 2020. The owner hails from the coastal Amakusa region, and after years of working in Tokyo and Kumamoto as a hairdresser, decided to go back to his roots and open a brewery in Amakusa. The result is Sonar Beer a small but stylish operation offering both kegs and bottles.

Image courtesy Sonar Beer Facebook page

Sonar Beer is also well known as Japan’s southernmost and westernmost hop producer. Hop plants take a few years before they begin to offer a full crop of hops, but initial returns have been promising.

Image courtesy Sonar Beer Facebook page

Sonar Beer offers a variety of mainly limited release beers with a focus on local citrus and other fruit. Past releases have included a beer made with Kumamoto mangos and a pale ale made with pearl-kan and bankan citrus.

The brewery is not open for tours.

 

Craft Beer Bottleshops

Witch Craft Market

Image courtesy Witch Craft Market official page

Located in the town of Ozu to the northeast of Kumamoto City, Witch Craft Market is the sister bottleshop of Witch Craft, a craft beer bar located next-door. Witch Craft Market offers a wide selection of over 250 kinds of domestic and imported craft beers, including a few Witch Craft original beers as well. Glassware and other non-beer alcohol are also available for purchase.

Website: http://witchcraftmarket.com/
Address: 1190-1 Ozu, Kikuchi District, Kumamoto 869-1233

Voyager

Voyager is a bar located in downtown Kumamoto City that also offers beer for takeout. Voyager usually has an inventory of around 50-60 bottles and cans from Japan and overseas, including a small selection of rare bottles not available anywhere else. Voyager also recently started offering draft beer to go if you have a growler or PET bottle to put the beer in.

Website: voyager-beer.com
Address: River Port 9 1B, Kuhonji 1-1-26, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto 862-0976

Craft Beer Bars

Click here to download a map of craft beer bars in downtown Kumamoto City.

More info coming soon!

Originally from NJ, USA, Jason has lived in Kumamoto since 2006. He currently co-runs Adastra Co., Ltd. and heads Shirakawa Banks (Shirakawa Night Market, etc.). He enjoys pretending he is playing Gran Turismo as he drives very very slowly up the mountains of Aso in his kei-van.

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