[From February Issue 2015]
President of Minoh Brewery
Craft beer is attracting attention these days. The popular “Minoh Beer” was created in the pastoral city of Minoh, Osaka Prefecture. OSHITA Kaori is both company president and factory manager. “My mother and two younger sisters work with me. When I first helped out with the business, it felt like a part-time job as I was a student,” says Kaori. She was later drawn into the fun of beer making.
Minoh Brewery has won many major awards in Japan. Since 2009, it’s won awards six years in a row at international beer competitions. The success of this family run craft beer has been much discussed. Its international reputation has made this beer popular nationwide. “I could never have predicted that our Minoh Beer Stout would be chosen in the UK, the land of stout. It was quite a surprise. I was glad our longtime fans were also delighted,” says Kaori.
As the factory is small in size, it can only produce limited quantities, but great care is taken to brew the beer. Although beer production processes usually include filtration and heat treatment, Minoh Brewery does without them. “Bottling is done without filtering out the yeast. Freshness is the key, so we ship it cold and our customers also keep and sell it cold. Our beer is rich in vitamins and minerals, so it’s also beneficial for health and beauty,” says Kaori.
Minoh Brewery was founded in 1996 by Kaori’s father, OSHITA Masaji. It’s been 18 years since the company was established, and its owners have been through the ups and downs of the craft beer boom even to the extent that they had considered shutting down the business. Prominent in Japan’s craft beer industry, he sadly passed away two years ago.
Last year, a special beer to pay homage to Masaji’s memory was put on the market at the suggestion of a friend in the industry. This year, to mark the third anniversary of Masaji’s death, several companies produced beers bearing an image of him on them. Minoh Brewery itself released GOD FATHER3. “My father was a lively active man, everyone loved him. I’m glad he’s still remembered through beer.”
On the first floor of the factory cum head offices, there’s a tasting bar that can be visited for a fee. Neighbors can casually pop in here while taking a walk. Sometimes foreign tourists who have heard about the reputation of Minoh Beer also pay a visit. “We’ve been running this place since the company was established, because we’d like people to drink the beer as soon as it’s been made. Apart from our fixed holidays, we are open every day and at times it’s packed out,” says Kaori.
The company has been running a pub in Osaka City since 2004. “We aim to make Minho Beer something that can be easily enjoyed every day. It’s more fun if you think about which beer goes well with what kind of dishes,” says Kaori. “Real ale” matured in a barrel is served with a hand pump just like in a British pub.
They develop new products once every two months. “We have a wide range of some 120 types of beer. Some taste better if they aren’t too cold. I was inspired by foreign beers that used orange peel for our beer containing yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) from Minoh. I’d like to let more people know about the delicious taste of our different beers.” Kaori’s mission will continue into the future.
Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko