The Suntory kyoto Beer Factory: Free Tour and Beer Tasting!

Just near the boarder of Kyoto and Osaka in the small city of Nagaoka-kyo, home of the  Suntory Kyoto beer factory. If you are looking for a change of pace from yet another of Kyoto’s historic wonder or World Heritage sites, this might be just the thing. Many factories in Japan offer tours of their facilities usually for very little or free. The tour is completely free at the Suntory Kyoto beer factory, so it is definitely worth checking out! 

And do you know what is better than free

Free beer.

What is better than free beer?

Good free beer!

About the Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory 

There are four big beer companies in Japan: Asahi, Suntory, Kirin, and Sapporo. The first three have a pretty even distribution around Japan, but sadly the Sapporo factories are farther away than is reasonable for us to go to at the time— so, best three out of four?

Suntory started in the Osaka area in 1899, by a man named Shinjiro Tori. The name “Suntory” comes from “Tori” and the honorific “san”.

So “Tori-san” -> “SanTori” ->Suntory

cardboard display of beers offered in the Suntory Kyoto beer factory

At the Suntory Kyoto beer factory they brew version of The Premium Malts including: original, ale, and masters dream.

While the Suntory first became famous for its whiskey, their beers have been very successful and produce my favorite mass produced beer, The Premium Malt’s. What makes Premium Malt’s special is that it is a 100% malted barley Danish style beer. I have never seen this beer sold in America, which seems strange since all the other big Japanese beers get imported.

In any case, as luck would have it, the Suntory Kyoto beer factory is one of the factories that makes Premium Malt’s. Reservations are a must for this tour! You can sign up for the free tour here you want, however, the website is only available in Japanese. The tour is also open to young children, but naturally they cannot have any alcohol. 

Tours

There are two kinds of tours offered, the regular factory tour and the Premium Malt Lecture (ザ プレミアム モルツ講座) The only difference between the two is that the you don’t get to tour the factory with the Malt Lecture. You still get beer at the end, same as the factory tour, so I guess this is just for those more interested in the details of beer making.

Getting to The Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory

There are two train stations near the factory, the Hankyu Nishiyama Tennousan Staion [西山天王山] and the JR Nagaoka-kyo Station [長岡京]. From either of these stations it will be roughly 10 minutes to Nagaoka-kyo. There is a free shuttle to the factory from either station.

From Kyoto:

JR: At the JR Kyoto Station take a Rapid or Local service train bound for either Osaka, Shin-Osaka or Sannomiya.

Be careful! The New Rapid service trains do not stop at Nagaoka-kyo!

Hankyu: At Kyoto Kawaramachi Station take any train abound for Umeda.

From Osaka:

Getting to the Suntory factory from Osaka is also very easy. In the Hankyu Umeda Station, take a train bound for Kyoto Kawaramachi.

 

The Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory

factory entrance of the suntory beer factory in Kyoto

Entrance of the Suntory Kyoto beer factory

Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory Tour

Once you get to the Suntory factory, be sure to sign in at the front desk to receive your welcome brochures.

Before long, the factory tour will start and you will be guided through the various stages of production.

Board discussing the key elements of the Premium Malts beer at the Suntory Kyoto beer factory

The key ingredients to Suntory’s Premium Malts

steel brewing tanks used at the Kyoto Suntory beer factory

Brewing tanks

steel pipes production pipes at the suntory beer factory in kyoto

Production room

bottling machine at the kyoto suntory beer factory

Bottling machine

Map of some of the places where Suntory gets its water

Suntory Beer Tasting

Finally, after the 70 minute tour of the factory is completed, you will be rewarded with the pièce de résistance—the beer tasting!

Beer tasting room at the Suntory beer factory in Kyoto

Tasting room at the Suntory Kyoto beer factory

In the tasting room, each guest gets to choose from any of the beers on tap.  The beer tasting lasts for about 30 minutes, and Suntory recommends 3 glasses of beer per guest. If you cannot drink beer or have children with you, there is a different section of the tasting room that offers  juice of soft drinks during the 30 minute tasting.

Original Premium Malts, a classic.

IMG_1180

2016 Spring/ Summer special. It has a lot of floral notes.

IMG_1179

Master’s dream. The most expensive version of Premium Malt’s out at the moment.

Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory

Address  3-1-1 Choshi, Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture 〒617-0844
Website http://webapl.suntory.co.jp/factory/kyoto/course/c__00006/?LISTFLG=1
Hours of Operation Mon-Sun:

9:30-17:30

Admission Free

The Suntory beer factory tour is a really fun change of pace. Even though the tour is conducted exclusively in Japanese, its not only good practice for your language still but it is still interesting to see all the different parts of the factory. The free beer isn’t bad either. All in all, I think anyone who comes will have a good time.  If you would like to hit up another beer tour, you should check out the Asahi Beer Factory in Suita too!

Coming next time,
Another beer tour!

Refreshing! Free Asahi Beer Suita Factory Tour

Our somewhat tipsy adventure continues…

 

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