Sapporo Beer is one of the popular Japanese brands inside and outside Japan. Last March 5th, my husband and I together with our friends went for an afternoon factory tour at their brewery in Chiba. From Nishi-Kasai, we went to Tsudanuma station to meet Yoshi and Mika. From there, the four of us took the free bus shuttle headed to the brewery. It was shortly before 3:00 pm when we reached the brewery. Just in time before the Shirase tour started.
Exploring Shirase 5002
Our first itinerary was the tour inside Shirase 5002. It is an icebreaker ship that could move at 3 knots and can break up 1.5 meter-thick ice. It used to transport staff and supply goods for Antarctic expeditions and research for 25 years since 1983. At the moment it is docked at the Port of Funabashi just beside the brewery. During our tour, we saw the different rooms and facilities inside the ship. We first had a brief presentation inside the main hall and met the staff in-charge of our tour. He shared to us stories related to each room which helped us visualize the fun days at the ship.
Sapporo Beer Factory Tour
After an hour or so exploring Shirase 5002, we went back to the brewery for our factory tour. For this tour, it was only me and my husband who are foreigners. The rest including our friends are Japanese locals. Hence, our tour guide only spoke Japanese 🙁 Fortunately, the signages inside the brewery have English and German translations. The world of beer is really good to us!! Unlike previous years when visitors can see the actual process in making beers, we were only allowed to see the different work areas such as the tanks for washing, brewing, and maturation. There was also a small gallery exhibiting the evolution of Sapporo beer bottle covers. And a bar where we enjoyed a cool and freshly-made beer!
Trying Out Jingisukan Dinner
The night is still young and after two tall glasses of beer, all of us walked across the nearby restaurant for some delicious dinner. The restaurant offers Jingisukan (pronounced as Genghis Khan) grilled lamb which is quite rare to find in the metropolis. This style is similar to Mongolian barbecue which is named after a famous Mongolian leader. Lamb was thought to be the meat of choice among Mongolian soldiers. This dish is popular in the northern part of Japan and is usually cooked on a dome-shaped skillet similar to the soldier’s helmet.
The whole trip excluding dinner costed JPY 1,300 per person. There is a free shuttle bus from Tsudanuma station going to the brewery. This bus also stops in front of the swimming school just outside Shin-Narashino station. The beer tour is available daily except Mondays and New Year holidays. However, tours together with the Shirase boat tour are only held twice a week.