After moving to Japan in the mid 2000s, Kyoto Brewing’s founders were inspired by the global craft beer movement that was still in its infancy in Japan. While Japanese macro lager was of a higher quality than that of many countries, its lack of variety resulted in a beer landscape where the call “toriaezu nama” (“draft beer for now”) has for decades been the common beer-ordering phrase. Whichever macro lager you have on tap, that’ll do; they’re all similar enough, and I don’t want to waste time choosing.

That felt a misnomer to us, that arguably the world’s most varied drink, should be seen as something so standard and generic. For generations, and largely even to this day, beer is one thing: a light, yellow, fizzy “nodogoshi” (thirst-quencher).

Aside from wanting to have more variety in what we drank, we also wanted to help change this culture through having an impact on the Japanese beer scene, and we finally opened our doors and got brewing in the spring of 2015.

While we started for our few years just struggling to meet the needs of craft beer bars and restaurants, serving our beer in keg-form only, we knew that changing the beer culture means reaching a wider range of customers, and not only the already converted craft beer drinkers. For this, we started producing in bottles on a small scale, and then expanded our production to allow wider distribution of cans.

So why Kyoto?

It’s one of our most asked questions.
The simple truth is our main motivation for starting in Kyoto was a love for the city that started before we had even moved to Japan properly 20 years ago. That love for the city only grew the more time we spent here. This was where we wanted to build our brewery. But, even if we wanted to, could we? Did it make business sense at all?

When we launched the company, there were three breweries in Kyoto, but there were only a handful of bars and restaurants stocking craft beer. Compared to Tokyo, or even Osaka, Kyoto was barren when it came to craft beer. And isn’t Kyoto all about delicate food, green tea and sake anyway?

Scratch under the surface, however, and Kyoto is one of the most diverse cities in the country. It is also a city that for centuries has taken an interest in outside crafts and flavours, and applied the famed Kyoto artisanal expertise to it. Kyoto cares about what it eats and drinks, and we strongly believe it has only been a limited awareness of beer that prevented craft beer from growing to this date. In our short history, we have already seen this change quite drastically, but we know there is more to come.

It is our vision to help develop the perspective towards beer in Kyoto and beyond, to make people understand how much beer has to offer, and help foster a community that cares more about how it consumes.