Craft breweries are on the rise, and their popularity continues to soar worldwide with the demand for high-quality beer. In the bustling city of Tokyo, nestled in the heart of Tachikawa, there’s a craft brewery that is setting the standard among the many beer establishments in the area. Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink consumed in Japan, and Sakamichi Brewing, with its compelling story and commitment to creating quality beer, has made a name for itself in the vibrant craft beer scene. We will explore the story behind Sakamichi Brewing and what sets it apart in the world of craft beer.
Sakamichi Brewing was born out of a shared passion for brewing and a strong friendship. We interviewed owners and friends, Daniel Bellamy and Matthew Boynton, to discuss what inspired their brewing adventure and its influence in Japanese beer culture.
What inspired you to open Sakamichi Brewing?
Daniel: I was born in the US but moved to Australia when I was a child before moving back to the states several years later. My parents had lived overseas when they were younger as well, so I always had the desire to experience different cultures. I moved to Japan at the age of 23 planning to stay just a year or two and I've been here ever since. I had just returned from some time away from Japan, and my good friend Matthew had just left his previous brewery job to start his own. We felt we had a relationship that could withstand the pressures of running a business together, and we saw an opportunity in Tachikawa in west Tokyo, so we founded Sakamichi Brewing here.
What is your brewery most known for?
Daniel: I think what keeps people coming back are our affordable prices and our welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. Being outside of Tokyo we can keep our overhead a little lower than more centrally located breweries and taprooms, so we can price our beer accordingly. And Matthew and I have worked hard to create a comfortable place to come and drink. Whether you want to stand at the counter and make new friends, sit at a table by yourself and read a book for a few hours, or spend time here decompressing after work with your coworkers, Sakamichi Brewing has a place for you. Additionally, we open at noon, which is quite a bit earlier than most other taprooms or beer bars in Japan. If you have days off other than Saturday and Sunday, you know we're always open for a mid-week lunch time beer.
How many varieties of beer do you currently brew?
Daniel: Right now, we have ten of our own beers on tap. We brew a wide range of modern craft beer styles from sours to hazy IPAs to stouts, porters, and lagers. We've been a taproom and phantom brewery for three years, but we began brewing in house in December of 2022.
What are the most popular beer trends happening in Japan?
Daniel: Japan is still riding the haze wave, although there's a market for every kind of beer. Sours are also quite popular and there's always a place for a well-crafted lager.
What type of local ingredients do you use in your brewing process?
Daniel: We try to use local produce where possible. We have been doing a series of fruited Berliner-weisse style beers. One of the recent variants used locally sourced yuzu juice, an extremely aromatic citrus fruit local to Japan.
What made you choose Perlick beer dispensing equipment for your establishment?
Daniel: We had good advice from a local American beer importer who helps bars set up their serving systems as a side to the import sales business. Our rep explained the benefits to the Perlick Flow Control taps. We felt like the benefits were enough that even on our tight budget opening this place up, that would be money well spent.
What is the largest benefit of having flow control faucets?
Daniel: When we started out, we mostly had guest taps. We have no control over the carbonation level in the beers we buy from other breweries obviously, so if a beer comes in over carbonated and hard to pour, without flow control taps we're going to waste a ton of it scooping half a glass of foam out of every pour. With secondary regulators on each keg and the flow control taps, we can dial in just about any beer to pour well. This means we're not wasting beer, and we're pouring faster, which is important when the taproom gets busy.
How important is maintaining the right temperature and pressure in serving beer, and how does Perlick equipment help you achieve this?
Daniel: It's incredibly important. We have a relatively simple system, thankfully. Our kegs are in a fridge behind the bar and our taps are attached to the taproom side of the fridge wall. So we manage the temperature and pressure inside the fridge, customizing pressure for each beer as necessary, but the Perlick taps give us an extra level of control over how the beer is dispensed from the keg.
Do you have any tips or advice on making the most flow control?
Daniel: The taps work perfectly out of the box, but like anything else they need regular cleaning and maintenance. Keeping your lines, couplers, and taps clean helps to extend the lifespan of those parts, but also ensures your beer comes out tasting exactly as intended.
In the vibrant tapestry of Tokyo’s craft beer culture, Sakamichi Brewing emerges not just as a destination for exceptional beer, but a testament to the artistry, ingenuity, and commitment that define the craft. As we raise a glass to Sakamichi Brewing, we celebrate the craftsmanship and innovation that sets this brewery apart in a dynamic craft beer landscape. Cheers!
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