Kiuchi Brewery: The Home of Hitachino Nest

Nest is best: Ibaraki's own craft beer brand

By Tom Roseveare    - 2 min read

Kiuchi Brewery is a small brewery located in Naka, Ibaraki Prefecture. Typical of many Japanese brewers, Kiuchi Brewery started life as a sake brewery back in 1823, only recently investing into beer production as recently as 1996, when the Hitachino Nest beer was born along with their distinctive owl character logo. They now even produce shochu and wine​.

Whilst the quality of their original Kikusakari Sake​ has taken Kiuchi to where it is today, it is arguably Hitachino Nest that is most recognised around the world (particularly the US) and here at the brewery you'll be able to experience the birthplace of this unique beer, and understand why the drink has notched up so many awards on the festival circuit. With distribution in 15 countries, it was in fact a small pub in Camden Town, London that first helped introduce me to their selection of ales.​

Outside Kiuchi Brewery: the traditional sake heritage is evident
Outside Kiuchi Brewery: the traditional sake heritage is evident (Photo: Shinya Ichinohe, CC BY-NC 2.0)

In terms of the brewery itself, when you enter there is a wonderful small bar from which you can buy from their vast range of beer, sake, shochu and wine (yuzu and plum), which is also sold in the shop closeby, alongside a wider range of merchandise. The bar opens on to a courtyard from which you can see many of the on-site buildings - it is recommended to book a tour in advance if you do wish to see the facilities, although the staff are genuinely helpful and accommodating no matter when you turn up.

The distinctive owl logo
The distinctive owl logo (Photo: Raymond M, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There is also a Nakaya soba restaurant on-site (which I regret not trying) and they also do Brew on Premises, which would make a great team-building exercise or group event. You can design and brew your own beer, from the ingredients to the labelling. Whilst this is designed for those living in Japan (as they deliver the finished product within 3 weeks or less), it would no doubt be a great experience for anyone passing through eastern Ibaraki.

Getting there

Take the Super Hitachi train on the JR Hitachi Line from Ueno Station (1 hour), changing at Mito Station to the JR Suigun Line for trains heading to Hitachiomiya. The brewery is located a short walk from Hitachikonosu Station (20 minutes from Mito).

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Tom Roseveare

Tom Roseveare @tom.roseveare

Creative Director at Japan Travel, based in Tokyo.

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